Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Alternative University Tax

A Pittsburgh Councilman says he’ll propose an alternative to the tax bill on university tuition in council next week. Councilman Ricky Burgess says his legislation would take the burden off students’ tuition bills, and instead push universities to help the city by having them willingly pay in lieu of paying taxes. Burgess says universities have other “pots of money” like endowments to use, while students don’t. He says Harvard, MIT and Brown all have similar programs in place with their respective cities.

The councilman also wants the City Finance Department to assess the market value of all land owned by educational institutions, as well as estimate a per-resident cost of delivering city services to the residents of Pittsburgh.

Burgess says there is approximately $26 million in taxes universities don’t pay the city of Pittsburgh and the School Board, and that’s before calculating land value. If universities are not willing to help, he says there is no other choice than to look into putting a tax onto students' tuition.

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