By Peter N. Calcara, PICPA vice president, government relations, and Alex Fabian, manager, government relations
It is rare when the stars align in Harrisburg, but when they do it is an impressive process to watch unfold. The PICPA was a key contributor to just such an occurrence this week when the state House and Senate lawmakers agreed to expedite legislation championed by the PICPA that addresses three problematic tax issues. The measure, which had only passed the House on April 7, quickly cleared through both chambers by April 21 and headed to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk. It is also worthy of note that in this two-week timeframe, lawmakers were in session only three days (April 19-21)!
House Bill (HB) 766, sponsored by Rep. Keith Greiner, CPA (R-Lancaster), started as a change to the due date for Pennsylvania corporate tax returns. In its original form, HB 766 would have moved the filing date from 30 days after the due date of the federal return to the 15th day of the month following the due date of the federal return. This change was prioritized by members of the PICPA State Taxation Committee to create more certainty and eliminate confusion for corporate taxpayers.
As the bill was working its way through the legislative process, it was amended to address two more problems arising from tax extensions brought on by the pandemic. First, Greiner amended his bill to provide temporary authorization during the state of disaster emergency for the Department of Revenue and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to extend filing and payment deadlines for state and local income taxes to May 17, 2021, and waive any interest and penalties for failure to meet the tax due dates established under current law. The need for this provision was made necessary after numerous failed efforts to persuade DCED to unilaterally extend the local tax deadline.
As the legislation neared the finish line, a second amendment, offered by Sen. Pat Browne, CPA (R-Lehigh), was adopted in the Senate. Browne’s amendment provides permanent authority to DCED to deal with local taxation and conforms the filing deadline of a final local income tax return to coincide with the filing deadline of a state personal income tax return, which in turn matches the federal filing deadline. The bifurcation of due dates causes confusion and, in the end, costs taxpayers interest and penalty payments because many assume the due dates are the same.
The PICPA expects Wolf will sign the bill.
There are many people to thank for this legislative victory. First, Greiner and Browne for their unwavering support. Additionally, thanks are due to Sens. Jake Corman and Kim Ward and, in the House, Reps. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre), Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), and George Dunbar for their efforts to successfully help navigate HB 766 through the process.
Lastly, a huge thank you to PICPA members and volunteers who first raised the alarm and reached out to state lawmakers. Together, we were able to accomplish our second legislative victory of the year, proving once again that your voice matters.
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