BerksBarristerSpring2017 - 5

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President's Message


Kurt Althouse
2017 President
PBA Award: At the
recent Conference of
County Bar Leaders,
President Althouse
accepted from PBA
President Sara Austin
the County Bar
Recognition Award for
the efforts begun by 2016
President Jill Gehman
Koestel to collaborate
with various schools to
provide instruction for
those taking the tests to
become certified court
interpreters, hoping to
increase the passing rate. Others attending
the presentation were (L-R) CCBL President
William Burke, PBA Vice President Charles
Eppolito, III and PBA President-Elect
Sharon López.

he drum beat for property tax reform in Pennsylvania has continued unabated.
While we can all debate the merits and equity of financing public education
through the imposition of a tax on real property, the system has been in place
and reliably financed public education for many years. It is now under attack and it
is expected that bills will soon be introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly
which will provide for the elimination of real property taxes. Reportedly, our system of
public education will then be funded through an expansion of personal income tax and
sales tax.
It is thought the proposal will provide for an increase in the sales tax rate as well
as an increase of its scope, including numerous goods and services currently exempt in
order to raise the revenue to replace that which will be lost by the elimination of the
real property tax levied by school districts.
The purpose of this column is not to debate the merits of financing public
education through real property tax, sales tax, or any other alternative. Public education
is one of the foundations of our society. Equal access to educational opportunities
is one of the great things which America has provided for many years and it must
Rather, the purpose of this column is to address an issue that is much closer to
home and personal for all lawyers. Members of the Berks County Bar Association live
in and/or maintain a law office in the Commonwealth.
Most of us are proud to be able to provide legal services
to clients of all means and backgrounds. Our legal
system protects fundamental rights and the equality of
rights for all Pennsylvania citizens.
Reportedly, although no Bills have been introduced
as of the time of this writing, it is expected that a tax
on legal services will be instituted as part of the revenue
raising portions of the property tax reform bill. This
will be a truly detrimental piece of tax legislation that
will harm many citizens of the Commonwealth of
Two years ago, SB 76 failed by a single vote in the
Senate. Conventional wisdom is that, if reintroduced, it
will pass through the Senate this spring and be delivered
to the House.
It is important for us to remember that each of our Pennsylvania State Senators
and Representatives has a vote on this legislation. Those votes will affect all of the
citizens of their district, not just the lawyers of the district. Each vote is important, not
only to us but also to our clients.
Continued on page 6
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