Lawmakers Look to Improve PA Tax Structure

Member Group : Center Square

By Kim Jarrett

A group of Pennsylvania state lawmakers continues to look at the commonwealth’s tax structure with a focus on the state’s corporate taxes.

House Finance Subcommittee on Tax Modernization, tasked with updating the state’s revenue code, met this week to look at some of the ways the state takes in money.

Currently, the state focuses 100 percent on sales in the state when determining how much tax a C-class corporation will pay, based on a decision made by lawmakers in 2012.

State Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, asked if the 100 percent sales model is working for the commonwealth.

“That is the open question that think tanks are all debating – whether it does that or not,” Hussey replied.

The formula provides a break for businesses already located in the state, but it can be unfair to small businesses that primarily sell their goods and services only in Pennsylvania, Hussey said.

Many states are requiring corporations to go to a combined reporting model, which takes into account revenues in other states, he told the committee.

In another vein, Rep. Mary Jo Daley, R-Montgomery, has proposed a bill that would lower Pennsylvania’s corporate tax rate from 9.99 percent, the highest in the country, to 5.99 percent by 2024. However, multistate corporations would be required to use combined reporting, which takes into account all of the corporation’s revenue.

“Economists and tax experts alike have consistently told us that in order to sustain a fair and competitive tax structure, we should widen the base and then lower rates,” Daley said in the bill’s memo. “Modernization is clearly the key to success and making these changes is a critical next step.”

The committee also discussed how the state views net operating losses. The Internal Revenue Service gives corporations in the red a tax break, but Pennsylvania does not follow the IRS model.

Pennsylvania caps net operating losses at 35 percent. The only other state to cap net operating losses is New Hampshire.

Committee Chairman Keith Greiner, R-Lancaster, noted that the discussion was only focusing on C corporations, which account for 7 percent of the state’s tax base. Other forms include S corporations, limited liability corporations and sole proprietorships.