Listen to the PICPA-Department of Revenue webinar on Schedule C examinations. Speakers include representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (DOR) John Kaschak, CPA, deputy secretary for taxation, and Meggan Swisher, director, bureau of individual taxes.
PICPA Playing Role in Treasury Retirement Hearings
State Treasurer Joe Torsella has invited the PICPA to serve on his newly created task force on private sector retirement security. The task force, which recently completed its second hearing in Pittsburgh, is exploring the retirement crisis facing many working Pennsylvanians who lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Robert Jazwinski, CPA, PFS, CFP, and a PICPA past president, is a member of the task force. Jazwinski is president and founder of JFS Wealth Advisors, and has over 30 years’ experience helping clients achieve their financial goals.
In addition to Jazwinski, the task force consists of Sen. Scott Hutchinson, Senate Finance Committee chair; Sen. John Blake, Senate Democratic Finance Committee chair; Rep. Bernie O’Neill, House Finance Committee chair; Rep. Jake Wheatley, House Democratic Finance Committee chair; Sarah Gill, AARP; Kevin Shivers, National Federation of Independent Business of Pennsylvania; and Frank Snyder, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.
The Pittsburgh hearing focused on barriers impeding private employer support for effective employee retirement savings. Testimony was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Fragasso Financial Advisors, Guideline Technologies, Lockwood Advisors Inc., Bridger Financial Group, Allegheny Plywood Company, Sauer Holdings Inc., Contact One Communications, Bioptechs Inc., and Energy Swing Windows.
On Jan. 25, the task force will hear testimony in Harrisburg on “Options to Address the Retirement Savings Crisis in Pennsylvania.”
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The Week Ahead in the General Assembly
State House lawmakers return to session on Dec. 4. Across the capitol, the Senate is in recess until the following week.
One of the first bills on the House calendar for consideration could be House Bill 1401, legislation providing for volumetric severance tax. House lawmakers spent the better part of two days before the Thanksgiving recess debating multiple amendments to the bill. Several dozen more remain to be considered by the full House. Once fully implemented, the bill is projected to raise around $100 million a year.
On Dec. 4, the House Children and Youth Committee will convene an informational meeting with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who will provide a briefing on his office's special report on the state's struggling child welfare system. Also, the House Labor and Industry Committee holds a public hearing on House Bill 1082 (workplace safety), and the House Health Committee meets to consider House Bill 456, House Bill 1869, and Senate Bill 3.
On Dec. 5, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee scheduled a voting meeting on House Bill 1412; the House Commerce Committee meets on Senate Bill 751 and Senate Bill 629; and the House Judiciary Committee meets on House Bill 1821 and House Bill 1951. The House Professional Licensure, State Government, and Tourism and Recreational Development committees also have meetings scheduled on Dec. 5.
On Dec. 6, a public hearing on workforce issues related to the care for people with disabilities will be held by the Children and Youth and Human Services committees. The Aging and Older Adult Services Committee has an informational meeting with the Pennsylvania Homecare Association to hear about the group’s efforts to support family caregivers, and the Judiciary Committee has an informational meeting on "A Study of Opioid Addiction: Prevention & Treatment" from Dr. Eric Kocian of the Saint Vincent College Criminology Department.
On Dec. 7, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on special funds related to Department of Transportation.
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IFO Releases New School District Property Tax Letter
In response to a legislative request, the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) collected and analyzed certain data related to school property taxes and potential replacement revenues.
The letter to Rep. Frank Ryan, CPA (R-Lebanon), contains the following estimates:
- Median household income by county for 2015.
- Personal income tax on median-income households by county at the rate specified in Senate/House Bill 76.
- Impact of a sales and use tax rate increase and base expansion on median-income households based on Senate/House Bill 76.
- Average school property tax per homestead by county for fiscal year 2015-2016.
- School district debt service as a share of school property taxes by county for fiscal year 2015-2016.
In April, IFO also released a letter projecting the school district property tax collections that would be eliminated and subject to replacement under Senate Bill/House Bill 76.
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Senators Introduce Zero-Based Budget Reform Initiative
Sens. Scott Wagner (R-York), Scott Martin (R-Lancaster), Mike Folmer (R-Dauphin/Lebanon/York), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny/Washington), Mike Regan (R-Cumberland/York), and Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) announced that they intend to introduce a zero-based budget reform bill that would require every state agency to build its budget from a starting point of zero dollars.
This bill would be a significant departure from traditional budgeting, whereby agencies base their projections on the prior year’s figures. Under the proposed budgeting process, state agencies would be required to submit the following:
- The statutory legal justification for the agency and each activity within the agency.
- An itemized account of expenditures required for the agency to operate at the minimum level of service required by statute.
- An itemized account of expenditures required for the agency to operate at the current level of service.
- Concise statements about the quantity and quality of services provided at both the current and minimum levels.
The sponsors say zero-based budgeting offers accountability in state government.
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Increasing Transparency in Tax Credit Programs Proposed
State Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Allegheny) introduced legislation to bring greater transparency to Pennsylvania’s tax credit programs. With the development of PennWATCH, citizens have access to a greater understanding of how their tax dollars are being spent.
House Bill 1947 would require each state tax credit program to create an annual report detailing the name of the taxpayer receiving a tax credit, the amount of the tax credit issued or used in that year, the amount of the tax credit outstanding, and similar information related to taxpayers who buy or are assigned a tax credit. The reports would then be posted on the respective state agency’s website.
The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.
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House Democrats Urge Action on “Plan for PA”
Pennsylvania House Democrats are urging bipartisan work in the coming months on their "Plan for PA," which advances policies and legislation focused on creating good jobs, providing quality schools, and establishing fair taxes.
The Plan for PA features four components:
- A People First Plan for PA that protects the safety, health, financial security, and dignity and opportunity that every Pennsylvanian deserves, not just those at the top.
- A Jobs Plan for PA that attracts good jobs that support families, moves the economy forward, expands opportunities for working people, and protects the financial security of the middle class.
- A Quality Schools Plan for PA that gives every child access to a safe school and a quality education, and allows adults to gain the skills and training they need to do the jobs businesses are looking to fill.
- A Fair Taxes Plan for PA that eases the tax burden on working people and homeowners and prevents corporations and the wealthy from exploiting the middle class. Corporations and the wealthy should pay their fair share to support schools, public health and safety, and community resources.
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Special Election Announced for 35th District
Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) ordered a special election be held Jan. 23, 2018, to fill the vacant seat in the 35th Legislative District in Allegheny County.
The vacancy was created by the Nov. 6, 2017, resignation of former Rep. Marc Gergely (D-Allegheny).
Candidates for the office will be selected by a process designated by their respective political parties, and the winner of the special election will take office after the results are certified.
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Lamb Picked by Dems to Challenge Saccone
Conor Lamb, a Democrat, will face off against state Rep. Rick Saccone, a Republican, in the March 13 special election to fill the 18th Congressional seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who resigned Oct. 21, 2017. Lamb, a 33-year-old Marine veteran and assistant U.S. attorney, won the backing of local Democrats.
Next year’s primary and general elections will determine who holds the seat in the 2019-2020 term.
The Congressional district includes parts of Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland, and Greene counties.
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