10 November, 2009

Side Step...Taxing the Future

Luke Ravenstahl, the mayor of the city (Financially strapped and in a position where it is under state oversight for its budget disasters.) of Pittsburgh, PA, has concocted a plan to raise roughly $16 million to pump into the underfunded city pension plan.

A tax, as you already surmised.

A tax on what seems to be an untapped resource.

College (Or any other post secondary education.) students, attending classes within city limits, regardless of if they live in the city or not.

Once my jaw recovered from hitting the floor, I decided to do some looking. For the full details I will refer you to the following link from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:


He is looking to levy a one percent tax on all students in any form of post secondary education, including night classes. The onus of collecting and paying it would fall on the institution of higher learning. Under the plan it would only tax tuition, not room and board or other incidentals.

The Post-Gazette did some quick math. They estimated it would be an additional $27 to $403 dollar charge, depending on the type of institution one attends.

Doesn't sound so bad when looked at in that light.

Yet I find myself doing some head shaking. I know the tax amount is low, but it is another thing to be added to the bill of college, or post secondary education. For the schools, it is another added item in a long list of things to deal with.

I know the city is desperate for cash. They wish to get away from having to be watched by the state. Mayor Ravenstahl is looking for a way to help.

What kind of message is he sending to students, post secondary education institutions and the citizens of Pittsburgh in general?

Pittsburgh for years has struggled and laboured mightily to keep the younger crowd here and to bring them here to work, live and play. Companies like Google have brought jobs to the city and kept those all important younger people here, through the help of a prestigious institution such as Carnegie Mellon University.

Taxing the Future seems to be sending the wrong message in my simple opinion. You are however welcome to share your views. Or to call me a ninny. :-)

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