Monday, June 6, 2016

Mt. Lebanon taxes arrived in the mail

Just a heads up.


Richard Gideon said...

Try this little experiment, just for laughs: Add your Mt. Lebanon Municipality property tax to your Mt. Lebanon School District property tax. To that total add your Allegheny County Property tax from earlier this year. All set? OK, now divide that grand property tax total by your yearly take-home pay (NOT your declared income - you don't pay property tax out of declared income!). The figure you get will the the RATE of real property taxation as a decimal. (If you don't know what your take home pay is for a year then divide your grand property tax total by 12, and whatever that figure is divide it by what you took home in pay last month - you'll get the same rate, or close to it.)

Finally, take all three property tax bills in hand, walk outside, and wave them with gusto at your house, and demand that your house pay the bill!

Hummmm...maybe it isn't so funny after all!

Barbara S. said...


I didn't understand a thing you just said, but I'm sure you did! Can you (or someone) explain to this tax-novice WHY there are two different valuations for my house on the two bills that concern the Great State of Mt. Lebanon? I should probably know the answer and will probably be red-faced when you explain the discrepancy, but I'm so busy trying to figure out which account to hit for the funds this time that I'm just not able to wrap my mind around the obvious inconsistency.

I guess I should be acclimated to dealing with inconsistencies by now by virtue of having resided in this dwelling since January, 2000, but nothing that happens in Mt. Lebanon matches my sense of logic, and this is no different--

Color me Curious--

Richard Gideon said...

Barbara S:
I'm going to make several assumptions here, and you may correct me if I'm wrong. First, I'm assuming you get actual bills instead of a notice from your mortgage company. Second, I think you are comparing the TAXABLE ASSESSMENT box on the MT LEBANON, PA - 2016 TAX BILL with the TAXABLE ASSESSMENT box on the MT LEBANON SCHOOL DISTRICT - 2016 TAX BILL. Third, I'm assuming you have a "Homestead Exemption." If I'm correct so far, take a look at the ORIGINAL ASSESSMENT box on your school district bill. That figure is probably the same as the TAXABLE ASSESSMENT figure on the municipality's bill.

Now here comes the interesting part. Note on the school tax bill a box that says "TAX VALUE OF HOMESTEAD EXCLUSION." The figure shown there is your tax relief from PA gambling revenues. As the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says, "The significant portion of revenue generated from the play of slot machines are used to fund general school property tax reduction or wage tax reduction. Each April 15, the Secretary of the Budget certifies the amount of revenue available for distribution as general school property tax reduction and Philadelphia wage tax reduction during the upcoming fiscal year. School tax bills reflect the homestead and farmstead exclusions funded by slots as a separate line item. While the amount of reduction varies between school district, homeowners statewide have received an average reduction of nearly $200 yearly." Now if you take the ORIGINAL ASSESSMENT value shown on your school district bill and multiply it by 0.02393 you'll get the "Original Face Tax" shown on your bill. Now subtract the "TAX VALUE OF HOMESTEAD EXCLUSION" amount, and this will be your FACE PERIOD tax. The normal 2% discount will apply to this amount.

The confusion comes when one notes the school district's TAXABLE ASSESSMENT value. You see, in order to come up with a FACE PERIOD tax that includes the state's gambling reduction (i.e., the product of the "millage" times the TAXABLE ASSESSMENT) the assessment must be reduced by a value that would account for the homestead exclusion. You can see how this is done by taking the "TAX VALUE OF HOMESTEAD EXCLUSION," dividing it by 0.02393 and subtracting whatever you get from your ORIGINAL ASSESSMENT box figure. You should get what the school district is showing in the TAXABLE ASSESSMENT box.

An accountant may be able to explain this more clearly. I am not an accountant, nor do I play one on TV.

Barbara S. said...


Did you just make all that stuff up? What DO you do for a living? Why DON'T you play an accountant on TV? I don't have my tax statement here and I don't have internet access at home (on my 286!), so I guess I'll just have to assume that your VERY detailed explanation would make sense IF I had the forms and a high-powered calculator here as I write this thank you for your efforts at de-mystifying this for me.

I AM wondering, just in passing, whether anyone ELSE was able to follow this information about what has been carefully calculated (for my convenience) by the taxing authorities.

Again, what DO you do for a living? This information could have been provided by the IRS, it has so many calculations and considerations built into it. (Actually, it reminds me of the 18-calculation form I had to complete with my tax return this year, just to see if I had been informed correctly about the tax consequences that followed receipt of certain funds! It would probably be wise if we just faced the reality that: WE ALL NEED TO BE ACCOUNTANTS!

Richard Gideon said...

Barbara S:
Did you just make all that stuff up?: No
What DO you do for a living?: I'm a professional Vexillologist, dealing with the U.S. military services. Before that I taught school for 23 years. Before that I was in radio (last full-time gig at KQV). Before that I was in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1960's. Before that I was a baby.
Why DON'T you play an accountant on TV?: Because I'm too ugly - I have a face for radio.

You don't need a "high-power" calculator; a plain $10 pocket calculator will do. You could even do it using long division, with paper and pencil.

Actually, this stuff isn't all that hard; it's just our elected and appointed officials who make it seem hard by putting numbers in boxes without providing an explanation as to how those numbers were derived. Our school district has raised this "numerical obfuscation" to an art form. Of course, obfuscation is what keeps the mainstream political parties and small-town politicians in power, the public bewildered, and the "forgotten man" (or woman) is handed the bill for it.