Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Important request

Kristie Weiland, from Just Harvest, sent me this. Just Harvest was the VITA tax site where I worked this past spring. The state rep for Morningside, Highland Park, Stanton Heights, Bloomfield (I think) and north to Ross Township (including Aspinwall and Reserve) is Lisa Bennington (LBennington@pahouse.net, (717) 705-7011). I think - I'm sure about Moringside and Stanton Heights.

SB 218 will be voted on in the State House either Wednesday or Thursday! Please call your Representative now and urge him/her to vote yes on the bill, including an up-front exemption for low-income workers.

The current $52 Emergency and Municipal Services (EMS) Tax is collected from every worker in about 65% of municipalities in Allegheny County (municipalities, other than Philadelphia, can choose this tax instead of a smaller occupation tax, most of them have). The entire $52 is withheld in the first month of work creating a large burden on low-income workers, part-time workers and students. Some municipalities offer a refund of $42 to low-income workers, but each defines "low-income" differently.

SB 218 would change collection of the tax to $1 per week and mandate refunds for low-income workers earning less than $12,000 per year. The House Finance committee has added an amendment that would offer an up-front exemption to low-income workers so they wouldn't have to pay the tax then wait a year for the refund. They've also added an amendment that would create a uniform form that all municipalities would use for the exemption (this would make it much easier to access the form, especially for those of us who do taxes for people working in multiple municipalities). Just Harvest supports SB 218 and the 2 House amendments.

A similar bill was passed last year in November but then vetoed by Rendell because municipalities wouldn't have enough time to prepare. It is important that this bill be passed soon so that doesn't happen again!

You can find your state representative and their contact information at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm

Please contact me if you have any questions or need more information. Feel free to forward this alert to others.

Kristie Weiland
Community Organizer
Just Harvest
16 Terminal Way
Pittsburgh, PA

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