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Voters in Scranton to Consider Payroll Tax

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Voters in Scranton will be asked a question on the ballot Tuesday that could change the way businesses in the city are taxed.

If the ballot question passes, it would give Scranton School District officials the go-ahead to start considering a change in how the district taxes business owners.

Judges of elections picked up voting machines on Monday at the Lackawanna County Government Center before heading out to the 163 polling places throughout the county for Tuesday's election.

If you live in Scranton, there's a lot on your ballot, so a ballot question on the back might be missed. The Scranton School District is asking voters for permission to consider a switch from the business privilege mercantile tax to a payroll tax.

School district officials say it's important to remember that voters won't be making any sweeping changes with a yes or no vote.

"A yes vote simply puts this in the hands of the school board and allows us to consider it," said board member Katie Gilmartin.

Gilmartin says it's part of the school district's financial recovery plan to consider this taxing switch, but it's still unclear if it would be good for the district in the long run.

"I have to make sure that we are not taking any risk that would put us in a precarious situation, and revenue shortfall certainly would at this point," said Gilmartin.

The payroll tax that the district is considering would only affect business owners in the city. Instead of being taxed annually on income, businesses would be taxed quarterly on their payroll costs. More employees more of a tax.

"For a lot of businesses, this is going to be a fantastic thing. Myself personally, being completely transparent, I don't know if this will help me. I'm a very payroll-heavy business," said Micah Woodard, owner of Lavish Salon and Spa.

Woodard is part of an effort pushing for a yes vote on the ballot question even though it might cost his business more money.

"My kids are in the Scranton School District. I have a kid at the high school and a kid in middle school. Three-quarters of the money that comes from the mercantile tax and will come from this payroll tax goes to the Scranton School District. We all know what kind of shape the school district's in. They're trying to pull themselves out of the situation that they're in," said Woodard.

The payroll tax ballot question is on the back of the ballot for Scranton voters. They can cast their yes or no vote starting Tuesday at 7 a.m. when the polls open.

7 comments

  • Chris Thorne

    Only tax people that Actually have kids in school. How many illegals here have five, six, or more kids in school and Aren’t paying any taxes at all? Charge taxes per kid enrolled.

  • Brian Coates

    Just because the school may get more income from switching tax types, doesn’t mean they will spend the newfound money properly. Past experience should tell the voters that.

  • lamestream r

    How about a question to lower property owners taxes, especially those who have no children in school! How about lowering the school tax in the City, which is more then the County tax for properties? I rather see the State take over the School District then pass another tax!

    • yabbadabbadude

      The State take over? If you’ll remember, Tom Wolf said he was going to ABOLISH property taxes while he was first running for governor and the people fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I don’t think they’ll be much of a help here either.

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