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As the first punches from Covid 19 landed on state and local government revenues in spring 2020, it was clear that the virus’s impact, compounded by mandated shutdowns, blew holes in budgets. Public health and the economy both slumped quickly, draining revenue for essential services. Tax holidays gave the illusion over the early summer that the nation could bounce back soon. Well, no.

Property Tax Relief Measures

For decades, a legislative cottage industry has provided for the “refund or forgiveness of real property tax liability of certain low income, disabled, infirm or senior citizens.”  The measure would apply for relief from tax burdens “attributable to real property tax rate or assessed value increases, of the low-income senior citizen’s homestead (i.e., primary dwelling).” What relief measures to employ is the focus of this overview. 

Fragile Taxes and Fragile Societies

Something odd happened to me this morning. Sitting next to an open window in my house trying to do some work and writing, I sat back and heard: nothing.

Living in a commuter community across from the great city of Philadelphia, Monday mornings are usually less intensive with activity than in the bigger cities, but there is noticeable activity nevertheless. About 600 planes fly in and out of PHL daily, most of them flying about 4,000 feet above my town. Today and for the last few weeks there has been a drastic reduction in air traffic with about 40% of all departures canceled.[1]

One of the infrastructure amenities that benefits Philadelphia is a commuter train (PATCO) that, in usual times, runs every ten minutes through my town into the city (and vice versa). After years of acclimation to the nearby shriek and hiss of the trains, again it’s now noticeable when I hear the train break as it enters the station; otherwise, I hear nothing.