The Disproportion of Taxation in Pittsburgh ... (Google eBook)

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1915 - Taxation - 15 pages
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Page 1 - ... agricultural land" and was required to pay only one-half the tax rate prevailing in its ward; the second was called "rural," paying two-thirds the rate; and the third was called "full city," and paid the full rate. This tax classification dated back to a time when the boundaries of Pittsburgh were enlarged, taking in parts of five adjacent townships— back fifty years, when electric cars, telephones, and electric lights were unknown, and when you could count on your fingers the American cities...
Page 1 - For instance, in the east end of the city, property for some distance along one side of Center Avenue, and also along Fifth Avenue — two main thoroughfares — in 1910, the time of this investigation, was classed "full...
Page 1 - ... and sanitation. In other words, land classification was a measure designed to meet a specific condition. The condition changed, however, with the growth of the city, but the discriminations remained on the statute books. The almost unavoidable result was that whole districts, similarly located and otherwise much alike, were placed in different classes; and in the same way individual holdings, often in the same ward, were inequitably taxed.
Page 2 - Thus in 1910, real estate to the value of $212,900,000, or 28 per cent of all, was classed in the rural and agricultural groups and escaped with paying only two-thirds or less (one-half in the case of agricultural land) of the current rate of the wards where located.
Page 2 - The land was put through only the motions of farming, hay being the only crop that amounted to anything, and yet until 1912 it never paid more than the "agricultural" one-half rate. Within 300 yards, in the same ward, real estate closely occupied by working people was taxed at full rates. Other illustrative instances could be related at length. Basing the "rural" class on picturesque grounds and shrubbery, and the
Page 10 - ... armed with full power to make annual valuations throughout the city as is done in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, and many other large cities. The department did not make a new assessment for 1911, however, nor for 1912, in a thoroughgoing way as was done for the triennial year 1910. Fourth, Pittsburgh's exemptions of real estate from local taxation may be divided into two groups, commercial property and noncommercial. Non-commercial property included the long list generally exempted...
Page 11 - The total valuation of these exemptions had never before 1910 been computed by the assessors. real estate owned by railroad companies, street car companies, gas companies, telephone, incline plane, water, light and heating companies. This amount is split up among the different kinds of companies, as follows: Exempt Commercial Properly in Pittsburgh in 1907 These amounts are taken from the assessors...
Page 9 - In regard to publicity, very little was done beyond keeping the assessors' books open to public inspection. Second, while the privilege of appeal for revision of assessments is open to all, it was the large property owner chiefly who benefited by it. The board of assessors in Pittsburgh is also the board of tax revision. At certain times each year the revision board gives notice that it will hear appeals for changing appraisals; and the number of responses to the notice is large. By leafing through...
Page 15 - In one part of the city it is taxed, while in another it is exempt. The least that should be demanded is uniformity throughout the city. But more should be demanded; more than $18,000,000 worth of land owned by these corporations should be taxed. These four changes would round out the radical reform wrought by abolishing land classes and ward rates. They would tend to clear away further discriminations and disproportions due to geographical location, to changes in values from one year to the next,...
Page 14 - ... simplified and should be kept simple. There are often local responsibilities which are so peculiar to the annexed territory that they should be shouldered for a short time at least by the individuals or community in which they originated, but the period of readjustment should be made as brief as possible. Second: The machinery for an annual, instead of a triennial, assessment of all city real estate should be set to work. Taxes are levied annually and city budgets are planned annually; the basis...

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