Sunday, February 7, 2016

Some Taxing Problems

The annual state budget season tends to reminds everyone of the state taxes they pay. This includes attention to the Corbett administration's no-tax pledge and efforts to collect more taxes.

Some Taxing Problems


(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Ya know, boss, state budget time reminds us all of Gov. Cobett's no-tax pledge, as does the Guv who proudly asserts he's yet again offering no new taxes.

BE: A man of his word.

JB: And yet there's that new tax on Marcellus shale and the new tax on online purchases.

BE: The shale thing is a "fee," not a tax.

JB: Except the Guv said in a 2010 debate he wouldn't raise taxes OR fees.

BE: And he didn't. The Legislature passed the shale "fee." All the Guv's gonna do it sign it. Even you must see the difference.

JB: OK, what about the new requirement to pay sales tax on online purchases?

BE: Sales tax isn't a NEW tax. Are you THAT dense?

JB: But the state's saying we have to pay sales tax on 2011 online purchases. We didn't have to do that before. Now we do. Soooo that's a NEW tax.

BE: Listen closely. We have a sales tax in the state. You buy something taxable you pay the tax. All Corbett is doing is looking to collect the tax already in place, an estimated $380 million from online sales. It's good to get more money.

JB: But not necessarily fair to taxpayers. Check out this editorial in the Easton Express-Times. It says that while online businesses have until September of this year to start collecting the tax, taxpayers have to estimate 2011 online purchases and pay taxes on them by this April.

BE: You're just looking to be a scofflaw, a tax cheat.

JB: I'm just looking for some basic fairness. If business doesn't have to comply until September why do individual taxpayers have to comply retroactively? Why not treat everybody the same?

BE: You mean like in Communism, don't you?

JB: Grrrrr.

BE: No new taxes! No new taxes! All praise Grover!

JB: From Sesame Street?

BE: You are hopeless.




Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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