Calculate your tax difference if Pittsburgh annexes Wilkinsburg

What is earned income?

If you have your latest Wilkinsburg tax return, enter the value on Line 8. You could also use the number in Box 18 from your most recent IRS W-2. If you have your latest IRS 1040 tax return, enter your Adjusted Gross Income (Line 11), but note that it is different, generally higher, than what Wilkinsburg taxes.

If you have neither, you can estimate. Only consider taxable income and wages you get from working for someone else, yourself or from a business you own. Exclude "Pay you got for work when you were an inmate in a penal institution, Interest and dividends, Pensions or annuities, Social Security, Unemployment benefits, Alimony, and Child support." See IRS earned income definition for more information.

How can I determine my assessed value?

Look it up on the county website. You'll want the "Total value" under the current year's "County Assessed Value". Note that this is not your fair market value or any appraised value! Your assessed value rarely changes: only in a county-wide reassessment (last in 2012) or a purchase or major improvement reassessment (generally within a year after either).

Tax Wilkinsburg (present) Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh SD (annexation) Increase versus present Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh SD (school district merger only) Increase versus present
Earned Income Tax
Municipal Real Estate Property Tax
School Property Tax
Allegheny County Real Estate Tax
Total Yearly Tax

Quick Take

Homeowners: if your earned income is greater than 107.2% of your property assessment, you will pay more tax as a Pittsburgh resident than as a Wilkinsburg resident. Someone with Wilkinsburg's March 2022 median residential property assessment of $33,200 and 2020 median household earned income of $37,649 would pay approximately $41 more tax yearly.

Renters: all renters will pay more tax as Pittsburgh residents. It would be unprecedented for Pittsburgh City Council to order landlords to lower rents relative to how much less property tax the landlord is paying. According to the US Census Bureau, 65% of Wilkinsburg residents are renters.

Scenario Descriptions

Wilkinsburg
Your current taxation as a Wilkinsburg resident, and what your taxation would be going forward if no annexation occurs.
Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh SD (annexation)
This would be your estimated taxation as a Pittsburgh resident, should Pittsburgh annex Wilkinsburg and make no changes to tax rates in the process and the Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh school districts merge.
Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh SD (school district merger only)
This would be your estimated taxation should Pittsburgh not annex Wilkinsburg but the school districts do merge or Wilkinsburg SD is simply dissolved. The Pittsburgh SD imposes a tax on incomes in addition to property tax. The Borough of Mt. Oliver uses Pittsburgh SD in this way.

Scenario Notes

Other Tax-Like Fees and Municipal Services

This calculator does not account for any changes to the following:

Annexation and Merger Procedures

It is important to understand that the annexation of the municipality automatically merges the school districts because of Pittsburgh's size under state law. The school districts could merge separately but would require the approval of the State Board of Education. More details follow.

Municipalities

Per PA Title 53 Part I Ch. 4 § 13301, as well as much of the rest of PA 53 Part I Ch. 4 § 171-181the procedure is approximately as follows. Following the collection, validation, and court acceptance of valid signatures within a three-month period of 5% of the Wilkinsburg registered voters (PA 53 Part I Ch. 4 § 171) or 20% "of the highest number of votes cast for any office at the last preceding general election" (PA 53 Part I Ch. 4 § 30251), the City of Pittsburgh council would have to approve the petition/referendum by simple majority vote before Wilkinsburg voters would vote on annexation through a ballot question referendum at an election at least 60 days after the acceptance of the petition and approval by City council. If it passes, the procedure is (to be researched — only 11 of 16 annexation and three of 21 consolidation proposals statewide between 1975–2014 have succeeded, most were townships and boroughs merging; see this WHYY article). If the referendum fails, it cannot be revisited for five years.

City of Pittsburgh voters do not have a direct, popular voice in the matter. Borough of Wilkinsburg council may have limited power to intercede. If Borough council supported the annexation, it could vote to send the question to referendum. In any case, a public referendum of Wilkinsburg voters is required for the annexation to occur.

School Districts

Per PA Title 24 § 2-229, the school districts would merge immediately upon annexation. Statues indicate that annexation of the territory of a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th class school district by a city with a 1st class school district may force combination immediately upon annexation. The annexing school district may takes over contracting duties immediately. According to PA Act 14, Pittsburgh SD is considered 1st class "A" by its population and Wilkinsburg is considered 3rd class.

However, the school districts could merge independent of the municipalities, according to current PA law. Both school boards would each have to approve and the State Board of Education would then have to approve.

Other fees

There are a variety of other fee differences between the municipalities.

Dog Licensing

Pennsylvania law requires all licensing for all dogs and requires re-licensing those dogs when moving between jurisdictions with different systems. This generally means between counties. While Wilkinsburg participates in Allegheny County's combined dog licensing system, Pittsburgh does not. It is unclear if re-registration would be required and if any fees would be assessed as a result of that. The rates and structures are different.

Terms Wilkinsburg (Allegheny County) Pittsburgh
Lifetime
  • Regular license
    • $51.50 intact
    • $31.50 desexed
  • Person with disability or senior citizen
    • $31.50 intact
    • $21.50 desexed
Not available
Twelve year Not available
  • $175.00 intact
  • $75.00 desexed
One year
  • Regular license
    • $8.50 intact
    • $6.50 desexed
  • Person with disability or senior citizen
    • $6.50 intact
    • $4.50 desexed
  • $20.00 intact
  • $10.00 desexed

Analysis. Pittsburgh dog licensing is unfriendly to canine breeders and people whose breeds may live longer than 12 years. Someone residing in Pittsburgh can expect to pay up to $100 for a long-lived, desexed (spayed/neutered) dog license while AC would pay only $31.50 for it.

Sources: Pittsburgh 2022 Fee Schedule, Allegheny County yearly dog license application, Allegheny County lifetime dog license application. Pittsburgh also has a three-year license omitted for brevity.

Other notes

Looking for a quick way to lower your property tax for your primary residence by a little? Check out the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief. Read about the application process and follow the instructions to reduce your primary residence's assessed value. You can take advantage of this program anywhere in Pennsylvania via your county -- the links in this paragraph are directly to Allegheny County resources.

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