Pennsylvania has a large percentage of inhabitants who are retired and who live on fixed incomes. With frightening regularity, letters to the editor of the local newspaper appear, demanding that people on fixed incomes be exempt from paying property (school) taxes. The rationale for this is always given as either "I never had any children" or "My children have been out of school for 40 years". Seriously. I truly hope I do not need to explain the fallacy of either of these two rationales. I will certainly grant that property (school) taxes are a burden to any person living on a fixed income. Quite frankly, they're not much fun for anyone. But if we're to open Pandora's Box of tax reforms, we need to be prepared to look at some alternatives: <u>Lotteries and state-sponsored gambling.</u> Well, opponents will immediately point out that such things impact the poor in a negative fashion and contribute to continued poverty. I prefer to think of them as a tax on people who can't do math. But let's just acknowledge that there are problems with this model and it's not our first choice. <u>A levy on businesses</u> Hmmm. Ultimately, businesses have a vested interest in ensuring a supply of educated young people, ready and capable of entering the work force. But it's not fair to levy such a tax without giving the businesses a say-so in how it's spent, and do we really want businesses setting the cirricula in our schools? I thought not. <u>Sales/use or consumption taxes</u> The problem with this one, as I see it, is that everyone purchases goods or services in proportion to their income, absent overextended credit and personal bankruptcy. So, these types of taxes continue to impact those on fixed incomes. Besides, once such taxes have been instituted, they have a nasty way of creeping up, over time. <u>Personal income taxes</u> Getting a little closer to a potential solution, here. Income taxes, though, have a lot of "baggage" associated with them, thanks mostly to our labyrinthine tax code. Most of us will pass on this one, just because of the bad associations. <u>So, how about a special, flat education tax?</u> Abolish local property (school) taxes. Replace them with a locally-levied flat rate education tax. Such tax would be applied to all forms of income, including business revenues. As with all other state and local taxes, including existing property taxes, this tax could be applied to the itemized deductions for individual taxpayers or families. Additionally, by applying it to business revenues, an extra infusion of money into the system would occur. The businesses would be able to deduct this education tax, as well. And, while a flat tax does affect everyone equally, those in their prime earning years tend also to be those who have children in school. Thus, they will be the ones contributing more absolute dollars into the system, which is as it should be. OK, my flame suit is on, where are the holes in this proposal?