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Also known as the EMS Tax.

Background Edit

  • Pittsburgh has a flat commuter tax of $52-per-year, not a commuter wage tax that is charged based upon a percentage of one's income.

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InsightsEdit

Laws that put Pittsburgh's financial recovery under state control prohibit a commuter tax, said Barbara McNees, chairwoman of the city oversight board, formally known as the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

"As long as the ICA is in existence, a commuter wage tax -- which is typically what you think of when you talk about doing a percentage of income -- could not be levied," said McNees, who added that state and local lawmakers are understandably searching for ways to make the $52 annual tax fair for low-income workers.

History November 2004's bailout snubbed the commuter wage tax optionsEdit

In November 2004, the $10 annual tax paid by every worker in the city was raised to $52. A higher amount, $144, was requested. The legislature granted the increase from $10 to $52 for Pittsburgh and all the other cities throughout the state.

This formerly $10 and presently $52 annual tax is really called the Occupational Privilege Tax, or OPT. Often this tax is wrongly called a commuter tax.

The real commuter tax was to be a percentage of income, not a flat fee. The commuter tax is much like a personal income tax.

Those who work in the city and live in the city as well as those who work in the city but reside elsewhere were to pay both the Occupational Privilege Tax and the Commuter Wage Tax.

In the bailout, the legislature pulled the capability of the city's leaders to go to Commonwealth Court to ask a judge to implement a commuter wage tax. As of December, 2004, the commuter wage tax is out of the mix of fees and taxes and is NOT an option.

Willingness to thrive.Edit

Increasing the commuter tax from its present $10 a year to $52 a year is a regressive tax that hurts low income wage earners coming in from the suburbs to work. That, plus the high parking fees, creates a powerful disincentive for suburbanites to work in Pittsburgh. These high taxes are sure to further erode the ability of Pittsburgh to attract and retain small, medium and large businesses. This hurts our outlook for jobs and residents.

Moving targetsEdit

As this platform is being crafted, in November 2004, the outcome of a communter tax is unknown. It has been talked about as a possibility. However, what goes to the judge or what comes from the legislature is yet unknown.

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.Edit

The voters in the city like the idea of another population paying more for the city's bills.

Picking up a commuter tax blends with the trend of choosing an option that is just better than the worst possible.

Generally, the commuter tax is a bad tax. Commuter tax makes another stopgap measure. The commuter tax would keep a lid on Pittsburgh's prosperity.

The commuter tax should be elminiated as it hurts free trade and free travel.Edit

Dealing with the wake of the tax: start with democratic allowances.Edit

In the first year of the commuter tax, and in the first year in office, some elements of democracy need to be injected into the overall process that swirls with the commuter tax. Pittsburgh can't lag and opt to tax those that reside the suburban reaches of the region and prevent them some standing in the city's governmental operations. Suburban representation is nill in the city. A major disconnect occurs. Pittsburgh needs to build bridges to its workers who live in the suburbs.

Without costing money, there are measures that can be done to allow for suburban residents to participate in the city's democratic process.

Others have suggested that city council be expanded to include seats to suburban residents. That would prove to be more problematic. Other, better ideas exist. note, find that op-ed

The small-d 'democratic' should not be in the headline. It is too easily confused with the Democratic Party. Find a less confusing metaphor. If you are saying that the commuter tax is 'taxation without representation' for suburbanites who work in pgh, that is true. But since they can't vote, then you might want to think carefully about whether to bring up this aspect of the commuter tax.

You can't say, I"m fighting for YOU, by opposing the commuter tax.The suburbanites are THEY, not YOU, from the perspective of the mayoral race. Better to fight the commuter tax on different grounds. If you fight the commuter tax solely because it hurts suburbanites in their pocketbook, it may backfire. If you take this position in dist 42 then it will hurt you when you run for mayor later on in the year. Don't paint yourself into a corner.

Maybe you could say that in order to keep Pgh competitive in a worldwide marketplace, we need the best workers available and we can't penalize the ones from the suburbs severely. This seems good in the short term, but it makes Pgh less competitive in the long term. It just gives businesses another reason to relocate to the suburbs, or out of state.

Short order: eliminate the commuter tax, or lower it.Edit

The following content presents raw ideas. This page needs massive edits, like a {{stub}}. Do not quote this material in any source. It is not sanctioned in any way. Rather, this page is more of a place holder for more editing to come.


leaving it where it is, while working to reduce inefficiency in the city govt. You could just lump the commuter tax in with all the other things that make Pgh a bad place to work or to own a business.

Increasing the commuter tax from its present $10 a year to $100 or more would be a regressive tax that would hurt low income wage earners coming in from the suburbs to work. That, plus the high parking fees, is a disincentive for suburbanites to work in Pittsburgh. These high taxes are sure to further erode the ability of Pittsburgh to attract and retain small, medium and large businesses. This hurts our outlook for jobs and residents.

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