On July 27, 2017, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a revenue plan that includes a new 2% natural gas severance tax and the requirement that online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay collect sales tax on sales they conduct on behalf of vendors.  This plan contained in HB 542 was the result of a deal between GOP members of the Senate and Governor Wolf.  The measure now goes to the House where the fate is uncertain. We will continue to monitor this development.

On Tuesday, February 7th, Governor Wolf presented his 2017 budget address to a joint session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.   The Governor’s proposal includes a $1 Billion increase in the tax burden on Pennsylvania businesses and individuals. While the Governor stated that he was proposing no “broad-based tax increases,” his budget does raise revenues significantly while not addressing pension liability. We are currently analyzing the specifics of the Governor’s budget proposal and will provide more information in future posts. For now, however, here are some high level takeaways on the tax front:

  • Severance Tax on Natural Gas Extraction
    • rate of 6.5% of the value of the natural gas, effective July 1, 2017
    • amounts paid in Impact Fees may be taken as credit
    • Tax Impact: $293.8 million
  • Corporate Net Income Tax
    • a net operating loss cap of 30% of taxable income, effective for tax years beginning January 1, 2018 and after
    • a change in the base of the Corporate Net Income tax to combined reporting, effective for tax years beginning after January 1, 2018, in conjunction with a steadily declining Corporate Net Income rate reduction to 6.49% by 2022
    • Tax Impact: $81.2 million
  • Sales and Use Tax
    • elimination of Sales and Use Tax exemptions for custom software and computer services, prepared food sold to airlines, aircraft sales, maintenance and repairs, and certain business storage, effective July 1, 2017
    • Tax Impact: $489.8 million
  • Insurance Premiums Tax
    • application of the Insurance Premiums Tax for most insurance entities that were previously exempt, effective for tax years beginning after January 1, 2018
    • Tax Impact: $141.5 million
  • $25 Police Charge
    • a $25 per person charge for those individuals residing in a municipality relying exclusively on the Pennsylvania State Police

The proposal also includes a $100 million reduction in available tax credits. Further, the Governor estimates that his proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12.00 an hour will generate an additional $95 million in revenue.  This year’s proposed General Fund Budget is $32.3 Billion, an increase of 1.8% over last year.

Also significant is the Governor’s estimated savings of $2 billion from planned consolidation of four state agencies and eliminating shared and duplicative state government functions, divesting unused state property and not filling vacant staff positions. There are already comments from the Republican majority House and Senate questioning whether these actions can provide such savings.

Additionally, the Governor proposed increased funding to support Schools that Teach. This includes:

  • $125 million in new basic and special education funding;
  • $8.9 million in new funding for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities;
  • $75 million in new early childhood education funding;
  • $3 million for Career and Technical Education Equipment grants; and
  • $62 million for Career and Technical Education.

The Governor stated his proposal also supports his Jobs That Pay initiative as follows:

  • Providing a “one-stop shop” at the Department of Community and Economic Development to provide small businesses with access to services that allow the business to grow;
  • The Manufacturing PA Initiative links job training to careers that provide higher incomes and career advancement; and
  • New policies with regard to funds issued to businesses for job creation and strengthening its “clawbacks” when jobs are not created especially for businesses who relocate from Pennsylvania.

At this juncture, the Pennsylvania Senate and House Appropriations Committees will review the Governor’s proposal and ask questions in budget hearings with state agencies and interested parties who rely on government funding. The General Assembly will respond and work towards an agreed upon spending and revenue plan with the goal of reaching agreement with the Governor to have a budget by June 30, 2017.

We will be watching budget hearings and continue to study these proposals and will post regularly throughout the budget process. Please let us know should you have interest in any specific subject that affects your business.