Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

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Topic Author
TSR
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Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by TSR »

It appears that I will be moving from a no-income-tax state in the southeast up to Pennsylvania this year. A little background: I will likely be getting married this year (I am moving for my partner, but we don't currently know when we'll tie the knot). No kids yet, but that could happen at some point soon. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing for a living, but possibly moving into freelance work instead of my current federal job. She does not own a home yet, so that may be in the cards as well. I would love any advice you may have on the specific subject of "things I might not know about Pennsylvania" as it relates to money. I'm interested in the following topics, and any other issues that I may not be thinking of:

1. State and local income tax issues, including how to save on them.

2. Property taxes - note that we'll live pretty close to New Jersey, and I'm assuming that there's no way one would prefer to live in NJ over PA as far as taxes are concerned.

3. Benefits of 529s or other educational money issues.

4. Car titling/taxation issues (I'll need a new car somewhat soon).

5. Anything else I might not be thinking of?

I realize this is a very general question, but I wanted see if there was anything I should be looking out for.
Blue456
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by Blue456 »

http://www.assetprotectionbook.com/foru ... 142&t=1566

I look at protection from creditors.
fabdog
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by fabdog »

Pennsylvania does not allow deduction for 401(k). So you add that back to your state income when filing

But they don't tax the withdrawals after you retire

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samsoes
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by samsoes »

Blue456 wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:28 pm http://www.assetprotectionbook.com/foru ... 142&t=1566

I look at protection from creditors.
Great link, thank you. :beer
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. | (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren atop Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)
Topic Author
TSR
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by TSR »

samsoes wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:34 pm
Blue456 wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:28 pm http://www.assetprotectionbook.com/foru ... 142&t=1566

I look at protection from creditors.
Great link, thank you. :beer
Agreed. That's really helpful.
SlowMovingInvestor
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by SlowMovingInvestor »

A number of PA cities have taxes on wage income. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia top the list with a tax > 3%.
scophreak
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by scophreak »

TSR wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:11 pm It appears that I will be moving from a no-income-tax state in the southeast up to Pennsylvania this year. A little background: I will likely be getting married this year (I am moving for my partner, but we don't currently know when we'll tie the knot). No kids yet, but that could happen at some point soon. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing for a living, but possibly moving into freelance work instead of my current federal job. She does not own a home yet, so that may be in the cards as well. I would love any advice you may have on the specific subject of "things I might not know about Pennsylvania" as it relates to money. I'm interested in the following topics, and any other issues that I may not be thinking of:

1. State and local income tax issues, including how to save on them.

2. Property taxes - note that we'll live pretty close to New Jersey, and I'm assuming that there's no way one would prefer to live in NJ over PA as far as taxes are concerned.I think you have this generally right in my experience.

3. Benefits of 529s or other educational money issues.PA does allow up to $15,000/year (single) or $30,000 (MFJ) deduction for state tax purposes. 529 account can be in any program and is not limited to the "official" PA program

4. Car titling/taxation issues (I'll need a new car somewhat soon).Can't remember the specifics, but if you purchase a car prior to moving (within a certain window) there are potential PA tax implications when registering.

5. Anything else I might not be thinking of?

I realize this is a very general question, but I wanted see if there was anything I should be looking out for.
Some answers above. Made a similar move a few years back...feel free to PM me if you want to discuss further.
grandmacassie
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by grandmacassie »

I moved to PA in the 1970's from the southeast. One thing I still have a hard time understanding is the myriad layers of government in PA. For instance, where I came from, you lived either in a City or, if not in the city limits, in a County. Ordinances, policing, local government, planning, schools etc were managed and taxed at the City or County level.

In PA, Counties are subdivided into Townships, Cities and Boroughs. So depending on where you live, your local government may be managed by a Township (elected Commissioners), Borough Council/Mayor, or City Council/Mayor. Some municipalities have "strong" mayor systems and some have "weak" mayor systems. Counties also have Commissioners who oversee County government as distinct from local gov.

But wait, there's more! School Districts in Pennsylvania are independent political jurisdictions. They may include single or multiple municipalities and may include parts of more than one county.

But wait, there's even more! Philadelphia operates by its own rules and I think there are some special rules for Pittsburgh, too.

So be prepared for a steep learning curve....
tenkuky
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by tenkuky »

And you have to file 3 income tax returns: federal, state and local.
See https://www.hab-inc.com/
Usually it comes out to the amount withheld in paychecks by employer, but is still a PIA.
mortfree
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by mortfree »

Alcohol:

Beer stores
Liquor stores

You can’t buy liquor at the beer store and you can’t buy beer at the liquor store.

However,
Recently grocery stores can sell beer/wine but in limited quantities.

And recently you can buy on Sundays at select stores.

Recently is probably last 5 years or so.
tenkuky
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by tenkuky »

mortfree wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:38 pm Alcohol:

Beer stores
Liquor stores

You can’t buy liquor at the beer store and you can’t buy beer at the liquor store.

However,
Recently grocery stores can sell beer/wine but in limited quantities.

And recently you can buy on Sundays at select stores.

Recently is probably last 5 years or so.
While the limited quantity is a PIA, much better than the ridiculous "Wine & Spirits" state stores that had the monopoly till recently. Limited variety, inflexible pricing. Nothing like a quick trip to tax-free Delaware and Total Wine for fun shopping.
boglenomics
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by boglenomics »

tenkuky wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:45 pm
mortfree wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:38 pm Alcohol:

Beer stores
Liquor stores

You can’t buy liquor at the beer store and you can’t buy beer at the liquor store.

However,
Recently grocery stores can sell beer/wine but in limited quantities.

And recently you can buy on Sundays at select stores.

Recently is probably last 5 years or so.
While the limited quantity is a PIA, much better than the ridiculous "Wine & Spirits" state stores that had the monopoly till recently. Limited variety, inflexible pricing. Nothing like a quick trip to tax-free Delaware and Total Wine for fun shopping.
Also there's a weird quirk in Delaware law that liquor can not be sold behind a membership. This means the Costco in Delaware has to sell alcohol to the general public.

Do remember this is technically illegal according to PA state law. A family friend got busted a few years back by a trooper that followed her from the liquor store in New Jersey back over the PA state line.
Royal Blue
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by Royal Blue »

grandmacassie wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:00 pm I moved to PA in the 1970's from the southeast. One thing I still have a hard time understanding is the myriad layers of government in PA. For instance, where I came from, you lived either in a City or, if not in the city limits, in a County. Ordinances, policing, local government, planning, schools etc were managed and taxed at the City or County level.

In PA, Counties are subdivided into Townships, Cities and Boroughs. So depending on where you live, your local government may be managed by a Township (elected Commissioners), Borough Council/Mayor, or City Council/Mayor. Some municipalities have "strong" mayor systems and some have "weak" mayor systems. Counties also have Commissioners who oversee County government as distinct from local gov.

But wait, there's more! School Districts in Pennsylvania are independent political jurisdictions. They may include single or multiple municipalities and may include parts of more than one county.

But wait, there's even more! Philadelphia operates by its own rules and I think there are some special rules for Pittsburgh, too.

So be prepared for a steep learning curve....

Ahhh, you have unwound the Pa fiefdom matrix! I lived in a county with 100,000 people growing up and 9 school districts! That means nine superintendents etc. The state is so poorly run with layers and layers of bureaucratic waste.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by adamthesmythe »

Having moved out of PA I am qualified to speak.

Car registration is cheap because other taxes pay for the roads. Not like where I live now.

Schools are paid for by towns, etc. A consequence of this is that local taxes tend to be correlated with school quality. If that becomes important to you you will soon find out where the ambitious parents live.

Yes, the big cities have wage taxes. You can choose between paying a city tax and sitting in traffic.

And yes, state stores. At least now you get to walk the aisles and see and touch the bottles. Not like years ago when you ordered from a printed list.

Beer can now be bought in some groceries, no need to visit the beer supplier to visit with former college football players.
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RootSki
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by RootSki »

I’m looking to move to Bucks County in the next year or so. For schools, I’m looking north of Ivyland/Warminster.

Stay away from Bensalem.
its4inthemorning
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by its4inthemorning »

I am a long-time PA resident, originally from NJ.

As someone mentioned, government structure confuses newcomers. Like most states, there are counties, and within each county there are townships, boroughs, and sometimes cities. What is confusing is that the School Districts are separate entities that often encompass several townships/boroughs. On top of all that, PA has the quaint custom of using old village names as mailing addresses even though the villages are no longer entities and have no real boundaries (no impact, just something newcomers have to figure out).

State income tax is a flat 3.07% with almost no deductions. PA does not recognize retirement plan contributions, but does not tax retirement plan distributions (other than withdrawals pre-59-1/2 in most cases) nor Social Security benefits. Local jurisdictions (cities/townships/boroughs) levy local income taxes. Most townships/boroughs levy a 1% tax, although some are a little higher. Cities, however, can have significantly higher tax rates. Local taxes are normally only levied on earned income, not investment or retirement income.

Property taxes vary depending on where you live and the value of your home. They are much lower than in neighboring NJ.

Car registration fee is just a flat nominal amount, $25 I believe; this is unlike some states that annually tax the value of vehicles. I do not know of any adverse vehicle tax consequences from moving into PA.

I always considered PA as a fairly low tax state. This should continue unless the political power in the state House and Senate change.
mortfree
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by mortfree »

Car registration: $43 for one year or $86 for two years. There is no registration sticker for the license plate. Police use a new technology to read your plate to know if the registration is current.

PA state inspection and emissions inspections done annually for your vehicle.

Get an EZ Pass if you will drive PA turnpike or bridges. It works in several states.

Drivers license. Just getting into the Real ID cards here in PA.
PaunchyPirate
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by PaunchyPirate »

6% state sales tax (slightly higher in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh counties, I believe). Clothing and grocery store food and a few other things are not subject to this tax. Property taxes are all over the place depending on how good of financial shape your local community might be. 2 similar properties on opposite sides of the street may differ greatly in property taxes due to being in different local government jurisdictions/school districts.
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RootSki
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by RootSki »

Also interesting to note is PA caps car dealer “documentation fees” at $112 for manual entries and $133 for online entries. No idea on the rationale behind that.
PoundCake
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by PoundCake »

I don't think this has been mentioned yet. PA has a hefty inheritance tax. From the Dep't of Revenue website (link below):
The rates for Pennsylvania inheritance tax are as follows:

0 percent on transfers to a surviving spouse or to a parent from a child aged 21 or younger;
4.5 percent on transfers to direct descendants and lineal heirs;
12 percent on transfers to siblings; and
15 percent on transfers to other heirs, except charitable organizations, exempt institutions and government entities exempt from tax.
https://www.revenue.pa.gov/GeneralTaxIn ... fault.aspx
brianH
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by brianH »

PA has a kickback for auto mechanics in the form of mandatory, yearly vehicle inspections at a mechanic (no state/free options.) As you can expect, having a mechanic that does car repairs inspect your vehicle is a bit like asking a barber if you need a haircut.

PA's 529 plan is pretty decent: low fees and good fund (Vanguard) choices. PA 529 funds also don't count against you for state-based aid. Others do.

If you're in Southeast PA, the SEPTA Regional Rail (commuter trains) network is one of the largest and most extensive in the country. If you ever plan to visit/work in Philly, living near a station is the optimal way to go from the suburbs into Center City.
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grabiner
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by grabiner »

PA and NJ have reciprocity for income taxes. Thus, if you live in PA and work in NJ (or vice versa), you only pay income tax to your home state, at your home state's rate rather than at the higher of the two state rates.
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criticalmass
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by criticalmass »

TSR wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:11 pm It appears that I will be moving from a no-income-tax state in the southeast up to Pennsylvania this year. A little background: I will likely be getting married this year (I am moving for my partner, but we don't currently know when we'll tie the knot). No kids yet, but that could happen at some point soon. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing for a living, but possibly moving into freelance work instead of my current federal job. She does not own a home yet, so that may be in the cards as well. I would love any advice you may have on the specific subject of "things I might not know about Pennsylvania" as it relates to money. I'm interested in the following topics, and any other issues that I may not be thinking of:

1. State and local income tax issues, including how to save on them.

2. Property taxes - note that we'll live pretty close to New Jersey, and I'm assuming that there's no way one would prefer to live in NJ over PA as far as taxes are concerned.

3. Benefits of 529s or other educational money issues.

4. Car titling/taxation issues (I'll need a new car somewhat soon).

5. Anything else I might not be thinking of?

I realize this is a very general question, but I wanted see if there was anything I should be looking out for.
A couple of things:

A.) Pennsylvania doesn't have a "DMV" or similar like most other states have. You can do title/plate registrations at a car dealer or at a private notary service (including AAA). Driver License photos are taken at state offices located in many towns however.

B.) Others have noted the real estate taxing structure: There are County real estate taxes (usually small), Township/Borough/City/Town taxes (usually reasonable for townships, larger for others), and School District taxes (usually quite large). School Districts can exist inside a municipality, or across several municipalities. School Boards are elected independently and have real estate taxing power. A municipality can enact a merchant tax on commercial merchants, but then the School Board gets the tax too. School districts are required to bus resident students to private school within 10 miles of the school district border, regardless of where the student lives inside the district. This is an incredible expense for schools, which gets tacked on to your school taxes.

C.) The state income tax is fairly flat and relatively low compared to many states. However, you will also pay a LOCAL income tax on top of this, which is also fairly flat. Most local taxes are relatively low, but higher than the 1% charged years ago. Some places (e.g. Philadelphia/Allegheny counties) may charge higher and do. EXCEPTION: If you live in a different municipality but work in Philadelphia, you will pay the very steep Philadelphia wage tax and nothing to your home municipality.

D.) Pennsylvania fuels taxes are now very high.

E.) Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls are high and continue to climb each year. The Turnpike must pay for PennDoT roads throughout the Commonwealth, so they really stick it to their customers because they have to per statue.

F.) Beer may be purchased in six packs from a bar, or in 30 packs from a beer distributor. The latter used to be closed Sundays, but this may have changed. Wine may be sold by the state liquor control board stores or by certain select supermarkets which are now allowed to sell wine -- with a very high fee they need to pay the Commonwealth for the privilege. The LCB has enormous buying power that gives them savings which they do not pass on to you. EXCEPTION: Wine made in Pa may be sold by the winery in their own stores.

G.) All liquor is sold by the state liquor control board stores.

H.) No sales taxes on most clothing. No sales taxes on unprepared groceries. Enjoy!

I.) No ad valorem taxes on vehicles. Enjoy!

J.) Toll bridges between NJ and PA are tolled by the DRJTBC or DRBA. I-95 now charges a toll exiting NJ, which is new.

K.) Pennsylvania does not tax qualifying retirement income. Enjoy!

L.) Pennsylvania does not tax vehicles bought elsewhere if you move to Pennsylvania more than 6 months after purchasing the vehicle.

M.) Shop around for auto insurance rates, which vary widely.

N.) Avoid speeding/moving violation tickets which have very high surcharges.

O.) Many rural townships (class II) do not bother with a police force. This keeps local taxes low and puts additional burdens on the state police, which is funded by everyone.

P.) You will be relatively local to Vanguard. You can visit them to do in-person business such as trading in those old stock certificates. But make an appointment in advance, they can't handle walk-ins in most cases.

Q.) Pennsylvania has restrictions on new alcohol licenses for restaurants. Because of the limits of licenses, and the expense or unavailibility of buying an existing license, you will find many BYOB restaurants.

R.) Car inspections are privatized, but a semi-racket. In the Southeast, you will need an annual safety inspection at a private garage AND an annual emissions inspection, which is fairly expensive compared to other emission inspection states. You also need to pay a separate fee for the sticker on top of the inspection charge. You can avoid the emissions test if you have less than 5000 miles annually, but you still have to pay a fee.
forgeblast
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by forgeblast »

Pa member here, if you know the area that your planning to move to let us know we can help out a bit more. Its a large state, many different areas. Excellent hunting/fishing/boating etc
Lots of gas industry so if your buying a large rural property, you will have to negotiate the gas/oil rights in addition to the property.
Welcome! get ready for a lot of pot holes, pa roads are pretty rough.
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fizxman
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by fizxman »

A few comments.
B.) Others have noted the real estate taxing structure: There are County real estate taxes (usually small), Township/Borough/City/Town taxes (usually reasonable for townships, larger for others), and School District taxes (usually quite large). School Districts can exist inside a municipality, or across several municipalities. School Boards are elected independently and have real estate taxing power. A municipality can enact a merchant tax on commercial merchants, but then the School Board gets the tax too. School districts are required to bus resident students to private school within 10 miles of the school district border, regardless of where the student lives inside the district. This is an incredible expense for schools, which gets tacked on to your school taxes. County and municipality real estate taxes are lower than school real estate taxes but just how large school real estate taxes are depends on where you live. My county taxes are about 0.25%, municipality taxes are about 0.3% and school taxes are about 1.2%. Where my parents live, everything is about double.

C.) The state income tax is fairly flat and relatively low compared to many states. However, you will also pay a LOCAL income tax on top of this, which is also fairly flat. Most local taxes are relatively low, but higher than the 1% charged years ago. Some places (e.g. Philadelphia/Allegheny counties) may charge higher and do. EXCEPTION: If you live in a different municipality but work in Philadelphia, you will pay the very steep Philadelphia wage tax and nothing to your home municipality. State income tax is 3.07%. Local income tax varies from 1% to 3.9% but mine is 1.45%

D.) Pennsylvania fuels taxes are now very high. The fuel tax in PA is the second-highest in the country and PA is usually in the top 10 for the highest gas prices.

E.) Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls are high and continue to climb each year. The Turnpike must pay for PennDoT roads throughout the Commonwealth, so they really stick it to their customers because they have to per statue. True. Get an EZ-Pass and you'll pay less than if you pay with cash.

F.) Beer may be purchased in six packs from a bar, or in 30 packs from a beer distributor. The latter used to be closed Sundays, but this may have changed. Wine may be sold by the state liquor control board stores or by certain select supermarkets which are now allowed to sell wine -- with a very high fee they need to pay the Commonwealth for the privilege. The LCB has enormous buying power that gives them savings which they do not pass on to you. EXCEPTION: Wine made in Pa may be sold by the winery in their own stores. Beer can be bought in six or 12-packs in bars, some grocery stores, and beer distributors. However, you can only buy up to 192 fl oz of beer per purchase at bars and grocery stores. So you buy two six-packs, take them to your car, then go buy more. A case of beer can only be bought in beer distributors. PA breweries can sell their own beer however they want. Wine can be bought at some grocery stores and at state-owned stores. PA wineries can sell there own wine.

G.) All liquor is sold by the state liquor control board stores. Liquor can be bought at state-owned stores. PA distilleries can sell there own liquor as well. There's also a rule that for places that make their own alcohol, they can sell other PA produced alcohol. A distillery close to me sells some PA beer and wine as well as their own liquor. Also, don't forget the 18% Johnstown Flood Tax that was enacted to rebuild the city after the flood. It was originally temporary but was apparently so lucrative, they made it permanent and raised it from 10% to 18%. It is built into the price though. Taxes in PA only ever get enacted or go up, never down or away.
A lot of general information here.

https://smartasset.com/taxes/pennsylvan ... calculator
Topic Author
TSR
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by TSR »

This is all incredibly helpful. Thanks to all of you!
scophreak
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by scophreak »

tenkuky wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:08 pm And you have to file 3 income tax returns: federal, state and local.
See https://www.hab-inc.com/
Usually it comes out to the amount withheld in paychecks by employer, but is still a PIA.
Certainly not true across the board. I live in PA and only file Federal and State returns. Of course, I don't live in an area that levies a local income tax (e.g. Philadelphia).
Leesbro63
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by Leesbro63 »

Here's a tip. Be very careful when buying real estate. In some counties, property taxes, mostly for schools, are VERY high to begin with. Much higher, as a percent of property value, than in many other states. Here in Pittsburgh it's about $3500 per $100,000 of value...so a $300,000 home has taxes over $10,000 per year. (As an aside, this is now often not even deductible by high earners, due to the SALT limit.) But that's not even the "gotchya". The gotchya is that a homeowner might have lived in the property for years with a low assessment. Once the property is sold, it often will be reassessed at the selling price and the new homeowner get a surprise tax bill...forever going forward...much higher than thought. Euphemistically called "the newcomer's tax". I've seen many...mostly young couples buying their first home...get walloped/blindsided by this. Tight budgets to begin with, to buy the house, then this out of left field. And it's sometimes a double whammy because there's usually a mortgaging servicing company who doesn't figure it out until there's a shortage in the escrow account. So the payment goes up enough to cover the shortage plus the higher tax amount. That second year after the increase, but first where it's understood and accounted for, just clobbers young couples.
Last edited by Leesbro63 on Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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3CT_Paddler
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by 3CT_Paddler »

We lived in York, PA for a couple years and loved the area. Made a migration from Atlanta to Virginia Beach to York and now back to Atlanta. Ironically Atlanta is my least favorite of all three places and I grew up in the South.

People are more reserved in PA relative to the South, but I met a lot of great people. York was an oddity - plenty of crime in the City but these beautiful old buildings that are dirt cheap (even in the nicer parts of town) are all over the place. Part of the reason they are dirt cheap are the sky high property taxes. I had never been anywhere before where property taxes actually took a sizeable chunk of value out of real estate prices.

Watch out for Lyme Disease if you like to go outdoors (or just spend time in your yard). Its a terrible disease that has exploded in Eastern PA in the past 15 years. That was probably the biggest negative from our time there. You have to check for ticks religiously if you go hiking.

I think there is a lot of job opportunity in that corridor you will be in. You are close to New York City but still surrounded by beautiful farm country. Property taxes are ridiculous, and it sounds like Philly has an extra layer of taxes. Being so close to DC, Baltimore, Philly and NYC means you have access to a ton of great markets or even weekend vacation trips.
Hockey10
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by Hockey10 »

Don't live and/or work in Philadelphia as it has the highest city wage tax in the country at 3.87%. The city is averaging 1 murder per day so far in 2020. This is a bad trend that has only gotten worse in recent years. Stick to the suburbs. Shop in Delaware (no sales tax).
pyld76
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by pyld76 »

TSR wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:11 pm It appears that I will be moving from a no-income-tax state in the southeast up to Pennsylvania this year. A little background: I will likely be getting married this year (I am moving for my partner, but we don't currently know when we'll tie the knot). No kids yet, but that could happen at some point soon. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing for a living, but possibly moving into freelance work instead of my current federal job. She does not own a home yet, so that may be in the cards as well. I would love any advice you may have on the specific subject of "things I might not know about Pennsylvania" as it relates to money. I'm interested in the following topics, and any other issues that I may not be thinking of:

1. State and local income tax issues, including how to save on them.
Don't live in Pgh or Philly proper. Your local wage taxes will be outrageous.

PA state income tax is 3.07%. Local will vary: plan on at least 1% and as much as ($PHILADELPHIA).

State sales tax is 6%, plus the local. Again, this can range from 1% additional (7% total) to ($PHILADELPHIA). You probably know this, but PA is fairly unique in the sales tax regard in that "items exempt from the tax include food (not ready-to-eat); candy and gum; most clothing; textbooks; computer services; pharmaceutical drugs; sales for resale; and residential heating fuels such as oil, electricity, gas, coal and firewood." So, you basically pay no sales tax on food, clothes, drugs, heat.

TSR wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:11 pm2. Property taxes - note that we'll live pretty close to New Jersey, and I'm assuming that there's no way one would prefer to live in NJ over PA as far as taxes are concerned.
While PA's tax rates and property values aren't as ludicrous as NJs are, they are very county dependent. Pick a county that doesn't regularly reassess real estate values. The county in which I reside hasn't reassessed property values since something like 1957 and as a result, has significantly lower real estate taxes. My tax burden on my home would double if I moved my house to Philly and go up about 60% if I moved it to Allegheny County (Pgh proper).
TSR wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:11 pm3. Benefits of 529s or other educational money issues.
PA's 529 contributions are deductible to the limit from your state taxes. Additionally (and this is big), PA gives you that deduction regardless of whose 529 plan you use (statewise). So, the correct strategy is to start a 529 in a state with the lowest costs, enjoy the deduction, and repatriate the money to PA's expensive 529 just before FAFSA (PA 529 funds are not included for some financial aid calcs, but 529 assets in other state plans are).
TSR wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:11 pm4. Car titling/taxation issues (I'll need a new car somewhat soon).
$38/year in PA for plates. Usually runs $20-25 for state inspection yearly. Double that for emissions. Emissions is a county by county thing in PA--"rural" counties are exempt. So, usually it means if you live almost anywhere near Pgh, Philly, Harrisburg, Erie? Gonna need emissions. Good news is that there isn't personal property tax on your car in PA.

Don't get a PA ezpass. There are no (that I know of) discounts you can't get with the same ezpass from MA or IN or any state which doesn't charge you a monthly for the privilege.

5. Anything else I might not be thinking of?
TSR wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:11 pmI realize this is a very general question, but I wanted see if there was anything I should be looking out for.
The alcohol situation at retail and at restaurants. PA isn't Utah, but it's right next to it. After the first few years, you'll know the nuances but the gist of it is this: be prepared to make a special trip to buy booze, good wine, or beer in quantities greater than about 96 total oz.

The turnpike tolls are outrageous. Long story short: PA wanted to toll I-80. They assumed the feds would let them. They put it on the PA turnpike to cough up billions over like 30-50 years. PA was denied permission to toll I80, so now, the PA turnpike commission is funding a significant portion of roads and public transit only with tolls from the existing turnpike.

PA taxes poured drinks at like %18. PA's retail gas tax is ludicrous and the gas prices match.

Only state police in PA can run radar for traffic enforcement. The PSP is authorized to run radar, not laser. Local cops can't use radar or laser and have to follow you, time you across road laid strips, etc. This is an unexpected godsend of a legislature that is huge and does very little.
gregwils
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by gregwils »

"The alcohol situation at retail and at restaurants. PA isn't Utah, but it's right next to it. After the first few years, you'll know the nuances but the gist of it is this: be prepared to make a special trip to buy booze, good wine, or beer in quantities greater than about 96 total oz."

The state's Liquor Control Board must have felt a lot of pressure to privatize a few years ago, because they have vastly improved their ways. Granted, they still control the distribution, but some of the locations are as nice or nicer than many private liquor stores I have visited in neighboring states. And while PA LCB does control what is purchased, you can ship wine to your home if the winery is smaller and doesn't have an agreement with PA LCB. Also, I find when researching to find a wine to purchase, PA LCB prices are often at or below other on-line posted prices. A long way from perfect and number of outlets is still an issue and inconvenient, it's not the same as it was ten or more years ago.
PVW
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by PVW »

fizxman wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:01 am A few comments.

G.) All liquor is sold by the state liquor control board stores. Liquor can be bought at state-owned stores. PA distilleries can sell there own liquor as well. There's also a rule that for places that make their own alcohol, they can sell other PA produced alcohol. A distillery close to me sells some PA beer and wine as well as their own liquor. Also, don't forget the 18% Johnstown Flood Tax that was enacted to rebuild the city after the flood. It was originally temporary but was apparently so lucrative, they made it permanent and raised it from 10% to 18%. It is built into the price though. Taxes in PA only ever get enacted or go up, never down or away.
Since it's built into the price, we have to pay sales tax on the Johnstown Flood tax.
Mapmaker
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by Mapmaker »

PA is one of the six states that have inheritance taxes.

“The rates for Pennsylvania inheritance tax are as follows:

0 percent on transfers to a surviving spouse or to a parent from a child aged 21 or younger;
4.5 percent on transfers to direct descendants and lineal heirs;
12 percent on transfers to siblings; and
15 percent on transfers to other heirs, except charitable organizations, exempt institutions and government entities exempt from tax.
Property owned jointly between spouses is exempt from inheritance tax”
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BolderBoy
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by BolderBoy »

PA is a public union-controlled state (at least I think it still is). By that I mean if a public union goes on strike it shuts down that government function. Many states (eg, Colorado & Virginia) that allow unionization of public employees forbid them from striking. When I lived in PA the teachers went on strike several times, shutting down the schools for prolonged periods.

When I attended a couple of BH conferences I got to ride on the SEPTRA system for $1 each way (senior discount). So the non-seniors pay hefty fares to support us oldsters riding the rails. One thing I was surprised to see was that there are human ticket takers working on the actual trains. I asked about it (cost!!!) and was told the union was all-powerful and there would likely always be human ticket takers on the SEPTRA. The SEPTRA system is very nice, convenient and seemed quite efficient.

When I lived in PA (long ago) there were human tax collectors who got to keep a % of the taxes they collected. They would come door-to-door to do their collecting.
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by cadreamer2015 »

Others have had good comments on the financial and administrative aspects of living in Pennsylvania. We moved to PA in the mid 90s and lived there for 3 1/2 years in the Philadelphia suburbs. Some comments about our experience, which I think are still valid:

1) Many of the suburban school districts are fantastic. Compared to our previous schools in the Los Angeles area they were closer to private schools in the class sizes and per pupil funding. (We were in the Tredyffrin/Easttown district).

2) Pennsylvania is one of the older (median age) states in the country at 40.7. This doesn't seem that much older than the national average of 38.1, but it was very apparent to us when we moved there.

3) This may be specific to the Philadelphia suburbs, but we got the sense that most of the people in our neighborhoods had lived in the region all their lives (gone to high school there etc.) and were happy just to socialize with people they had known since high school or even earlier. So it was hard to get to know people. We ended up socializing mostly with people like us who had moved to the area from other areas or states.
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cowbman
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by cowbman »

grabiner wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:24 am PA and NJ have reciprocity for income taxes. Thus, if you live in PA and work in NJ (or vice versa), you only pay income tax to your home state, at your home state's rate rather than at the higher of the two state rates.
Seriously? Wouldn't that make everyone that works in NJ want to live in PA since the income, property, and car taxes are less?
investingdad
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by investingdad »

School taxes can be very high in districts with low concentration of businesses. It's not correlated to quality of the schools.

The Southeast and the Pittsburgh / Erie area are quite different, separated by a 4 to 6 hour car drive.

Central PA, other than Penn State, is incredibly rural.

Southeast PA home prices rise very quickly as you move out of Philly, then drop once you're an hour or so drive away. Traffic getting into Philly from Bucks and Montgomery counties in the morning is a giant PIA.

Upper Bucks county has some gorgeous areas, especially Doylestown, and it gets quirky up into New Hope.

Cheese steaks. Find a good local shop. Don't call them Philly cheesesteaks, or a Philly steak, or Philly anything. Nobody here calls them that. It's a Cheesesteak. The whole 'wit' thing when ordering? Stupid. Created by the overrated two 'famous' shops in the city. Also, getting them with Cheez Whiz is nasty. Just order a cheese steak with fried onions, you're welcome.
retire2022
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by retire2022 »

grabiner wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:24 am PA and NJ have reciprocity for income taxes. Thus, if you live in PA and work in NJ (or vice versa), you only pay income tax to your home state, at your home state's rate rather than at the higher of the two state rates.
Grabiner, doesn’t NJ tax on retirement accounts withdrawals even Roth IRA’s, Roth 401K etc?
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grabiner
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by grabiner »

retire2022 wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:35 pm
grabiner wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:24 am PA and NJ have reciprocity for income taxes. Thus, if you live in PA and work in NJ (or vice versa), you only pay income tax to your home state, at your home state's rate rather than at the higher of the two state rates.
Grabiner, doesn’t NJ tax on retirement accounts withdrawals even Roth IRA’s, Roth 401K etc?
NJ doesn't tax qualified Roth withdrawals (after 59-1/2). What it does do is differ from the federal ordering rules for non-qualified withdrawals; all withdrawals are prorated between contributions and earnings, so a partial withdrawal is subject to state tax. Reference: New Jersey TB-44(R), Roth IRAs

The big retirement difference between NJ and other states is that NJ allows a deduction only for 401(k) contributions, not for traditional IRAs nor any other retirement plans such as 403(b)s. Withdrawals from a traditional IRA or 403(b) are taxed, with the exception of a prorated share of the non-deductible portion. Thus NJ treats all IRAs (except rollovers from 401(k)s) as non-deductible.

The reciprocity in my comment applies only to wages, but retirement income would only be taxed in your home state anyway.
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RootSki
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by RootSki »

pyld76 wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:52 pm Only state police in PA can run radar for traffic enforcement. The PSP is authorized to run radar, not laser. Local cops can't use radar or laser and have to follow you, time you across road laid strips, etc. This is an unexpected godsend of a legislature that is huge and does very little.
Someone once told me that in addition to this, the PSP are only legislated to run radar using “K Band”. So if you have a radar detector and you are getting X or Ka alerts, it’s probably a false alarm.
Montgomery
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by Montgomery »

Advice- don’t live or work in Philly.

Seriously, great restaurants and arts. Also high taxes, city wage taxes, higher insurance, poor parking, high crime. Dirty. Terrible schools.

Good luck to you
neoptolemus412
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by neoptolemus412 »

The OP worded this oddly, but there’s a lot of ground between moving the southeast pa. One might say Delaware county, Westchester, Center city, etc. If the OP is freelancing, I’d say Philly is a good place to live. Much of this advice has been anti-philly, which is true to save on the city wage tax. However, There’s a reason construction is everywhere in the city and there’s a flood of millennials moving into Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a top 5 city for millennials. I’ve lived in NYC, Chicago, LA, Dallas, and New Orleans. Philadelphia was by far the best place to live due to COL, housing, accessibility, things to do, and culture. The city is having one of the largest booms in the US right now. I can’t tell you the number of millennials flocking to the city. I moved to New York from Philly only 2 years ago (job). Part of me still regrets it. My cost of living was so much lower and quality of life way better than any other city that I lived in.

To the OP, as you’re unmarried and your SO is moving up here, I’d rent in the city for a few years. The city wage tax is real, but access to the city is also real. For most of my peers, we’d rather be close to everything we need and around like minded peers. There are some burbs with younger folks (manyunk), but those areas still require a car, which you really don’t need in Philly. I had a car, but used it maybe 3 or 4 times a month as I could walk to everything I needed. At the end, I sold my car and rented one if I needed one for the day.

Also, rents in Philly are very fair. The market is saturated and almost every New building is giving concessions. My rent was $800/month when I left a few years ago (west philly 1 bedroom). My wife and I looked last year and luxury new buildings are going for $1,600/month for a 2 bedroom after concessions. That’s a steal to be right in center city.

Buying is a dangerous proposition in Philly as no one knows what the long-term market looks like. There’s tax abatements abound for much of the new housing that’s come up. prices have skyrocketed. Still decent compared to NYC. I would not buy in the OP’s situation one way or another. Better to rent when relocating to learn the area.

Lastly, yes, it’s a city. There’s crime. It’s dirty. Schools are poor. Cities aren’t for everyone. However, I’ve seen many blanket statements about Philly that just aren’t my experience with living there. Great city to live for someone unmarried without kids.
tenkuky
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by tenkuky »

scophreak wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:26 am
tenkuky wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:08 pm And you have to file 3 income tax returns: federal, state and local.
See https://www.hab-inc.com/
Usually it comes out to the amount withheld in paychecks by employer, but is still a PIA.
Certainly not true across the board. I live in PA and only file Federal and State returns. Of course, I don't live in an area that levies a local income tax (e.g. Philadelphia).
You are fortunate. Almost 3000 jurisdictions in PA levy local income tax, and not just in cities. Even rural townships (ask me how I know :annoyed )
https://taxfoundation.org/local-income-taxes-2019/
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TSR
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by TSR »

Thank you for all the excellent and very detailed advice. Sorry to be ambiguous about the location. It will be in the Lehigh Valley -- Allentown/Easton/Bethlehem area (Northampton County). My partner already lives up there with very stable employment. There is local income tax where she is.
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RootSki
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by RootSki »

TSR wrote: Thu Jan 23, 2020 10:14 am Thank you for all the excellent and very detailed advice. Sorry to be ambiguous about the location. It will be in the Lehigh Valley -- Allentown/Easton/Bethlehem area (Northampton County). My partner already lives up there with very stable employment. There is local income tax where she is.
That’s a great area. I’d consider Northampton County but I have a major employer advantage of living in Bucks county. I’d like to live near Quakertown, but that might be too rural for my wife.
its4inthemorning
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by its4inthemorning »

Lehigh Valley is where we are. When looking at houses, be sure you know the taxing jurisdictions, you cannot depend on mailing addresses. For example, many mailing addresses show Allentown, but they are not in the city, they are in surrounding townships. You can find out local earned income tax rates quite easily on line.

Allentown has rather high taxes (earned income tax is 1.33% versus 1% in most jurisdictions) and property taxes are high, especially school district. Cannot fathom why anyone would buy within city limits. Bethlehem only has a 1% earned income tax, but somewhat high property taxes. Bethlehem has a great historical district on the northside (north of Lehigh River), many shops, restaurants, etc within walking distance. For more rural settings look northwest, west, and south of Allentown and north or south of Bethlehem. Even though we've been here for years we have little familiarity with Easton, it does not attract us. Keep commutes in mind, US Route 22 runs through the LV and is quite congested at rush hours.

Any qualified realtor should be able to provide guidance regarding schools.
TheDDC
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by TheDDC »

South Central PA (Harrisburg/Lancaster/York) lifelong resident here.

Taxes: We have a flat 3.07% tax rate with limited itemization. Most counties will assess a local income tax. Retirement contributions are not tax deductible but distributions are. Property taxes (school and muni) are highly dependent on which municipality and overall geographic region you live in. 529 contributions are tax favorable ($15k per parent is state tax deductible). I am not a fan of 529s due to their limitations, but I find the advice regarding FAFSA EFC favorability of PA's 529 plan helpful from a previous poster if you choose to avail yourself. Philly and Allegheny (Pittsburgh) have additional sales taxes levied on top of the PA state sales tax which is 6%. Don't buy anything in either those two areas if you can avoid it. :)

Cars: Car registration fees are flat rate, however some counties have tacked on their own fees. Stay away from those sorts of "extra fee" places as they tend to be full of "nanny state" types. My in-laws live in Montgomery County, PA and it is a much different climate than Central PA. Our gas tax is now worse than Maryland's and fuel is one of the few things NJ is cheaper for, but I would still stay away from either of those two states. You will need to get your car inspected annually - emissions and inspection. One of the more annoying things about living here. We do have our nanny state stuff, too, but it's less worse than NJ and MD.

Enjoy your stay and please post any more questions on your adventures in the Keystone State.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex
Leesbro63
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by Leesbro63 »

TheDDC wrote: Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:53 am South Central PA (Harrisburg/Lancaster/York) lifelong resident here.

Taxes: We have a flat 3.07% tax rate with limited itemization. Most counties will assess a local income tax. Retirement contributions are not tax deductible but distributions are. Property taxes (school and muni) are highly dependent on which municipality and overall geographic region you live in. 529 contributions are tax favorable ($15k per parent is state tax deductible). I am not a fan of 529s due to their limitations, but I find the advice regarding FAFSA EFC favorability of PA's 529 plan helpful from a previous poster if you choose to avail yourself. Philly and Allegheny (Pittsburgh) have additional sales taxes levied on top of the PA state sales tax which is 6%. Don't buy anything in either those two areas if you can avoid it. :)

Cars: Car registration fees are flat rate, however some counties have tacked on their own fees. Stay away from those sorts of "extra fee" places as they tend to be full of "nanny state" types. My in-laws live in Montgomery County, PA and it is a much different climate than Central PA. Our gas tax is now worse than Maryland's and fuel is one of the few things NJ is cheaper for, but I would still stay away from either of those two states. You will need to get your car inspected annually - emissions and inspection. One of the more annoying things about living here. We do have our nanny state stuff, too, but it's less worse than NJ and MD.

Enjoy your stay and please post any more questions on your adventures in the Keystone State.

-TheDDC
Minor correction: Many (not sure of "most) counties have a "wage" tax...not an "income" tax. It's only a tax on wages.
TheDDC
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Re: Advice on moving to Pennsylvania

Post by TheDDC »

Leesbro63 wrote: Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:09 pm
TheDDC wrote: Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:53 am South Central PA (Harrisburg/Lancaster/York) lifelong resident here.

Taxes: We have a flat 3.07% tax rate with limited itemization. Most counties will assess a local income tax. Retirement contributions are not tax deductible but distributions are. Property taxes (school and muni) are highly dependent on which municipality and overall geographic region you live in. 529 contributions are tax favorable ($15k per parent is state tax deductible). I am not a fan of 529s due to their limitations, but I find the advice regarding FAFSA EFC favorability of PA's 529 plan helpful from a previous poster if you choose to avail yourself. Philly and Allegheny (Pittsburgh) have additional sales taxes levied on top of the PA state sales tax which is 6%. Don't buy anything in either those two areas if you can avoid it. :)

Cars: Car registration fees are flat rate, however some counties have tacked on their own fees. Stay away from those sorts of "extra fee" places as they tend to be full of "nanny state" types. My in-laws live in Montgomery County, PA and it is a much different climate than Central PA. Our gas tax is now worse than Maryland's and fuel is one of the few things NJ is cheaper for, but I would still stay away from either of those two states. You will need to get your car inspected annually - emissions and inspection. One of the more annoying things about living here. We do have our nanny state stuff, too, but it's less worse than NJ and MD.

Enjoy your stay and please post any more questions on your adventures in the Keystone State.

-TheDDC
Minor correction: Many (not sure of "most) counties have a "wage" tax...not an "income" tax. It's only a tax on wages.
Good catch.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex
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