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Governor Wants Sales Tax On New Items, Services

HARRISBURG — There has been quite a bit of fallout after Governor Tom Wolf delivered his budget address Tuesday, calling for a hike to state income and sa...

HARRISBURG -- There has been quite a bit of fallout after Governor Tom Wolf delivered his budget address Tuesday, calling for a hike to state income and sales taxes.

Getting a lot of attention is that proposed hike in sales tax to 6.6 percent and applying that tax to many items and services that are exempt right now.

Want to see the Penguins or another sporting event? Governor Wolf wants you to pay a sales tax on the ticket.

He wants a sales tax on day care, on the price patients pay at nursing and personal care homes, legal services, even the costs associated with a funeral.

"When I look at this with families and when there's a tragedy, a sudden death, a child's death, and we have to say to that family, your tax on this funeral merchandise is x number of dollars," said H. Merritt Hughes.

Hughes showed us the book of caskets that he shows grieving families at his funeral home in Wilkes-Barre.

Governor Wolf proposes a sales tax on those caskets and death services.

"I think it's very difficult when your taxing death services, whatever that is, caskets and vaults and whatever merchandise, and we have to figure that up and then tell the family this is your tax bill," said Hughes.

Dry cleaning is another one of the many services that would be taxed and the owner of Valet Garment Care in Plains Township says that could hurt his business.

"You look at it, yeah it's only a couple dollars per customer, but some customers are watching those dollars and they might decide not to come in," said James Jasterzenski.

There is a long list of items that would now be taxed under Governor Wolf's proposed sales tax. One item included is diapers. Parents would be paying a couple bucks more per box.

"To be taxed more when you're already trying to make ends meet in your household, it's going to be uneconomical and unaffordable," said Amanda Knecht of Hazleton.

All over the counter medication would be taxed. Candy is on the list, too, but Governor Wolf says the newly taxed items and a higher sales tax of 6.6 percent would help lower school property taxes an average of 50 percent.

"I think it's kind of worth it to raise the taxes because then it kind of lowers that huge tax bill you get in the mail for school and property," said Megan Mastroff of Kingston.

Clothing, food, and prescription drugs would remain tax free.

Other items on the list provided by the governor's office are listed here:


  • Candy and gum
  • Personal hygiene products (including diapers)
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • Caskets and burial vaults
  • Flags
  • Textbooks
  • Catalog and direct mail advertising


  • Airline catering
  • Commission
  • Horses
  • Construction of memorials
  • Uniform commercial code filing fees
  • Investment metal bullion and investment coins
  • Cable television


  • Transportation
  • Motion picture and video industries
  • Other financial investment activities
  • Real estate agent and broker services
  • Legal services
  • Specialized design services
  • Scientific research and development services
  • Advertising services
  • Other professional services
  • Employment services
  • Business support services
  • Travel arrangement services
  • Other support services
  • Waste collection
  • High education
  • Home health care services
  • Other ambulatory health care services
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Social assistance (including child day care)
  • Performing arts
  • Spectator sports
  • Museums, Historical Sites and similar institutions
  • Amusement and recreation industries
  • Recreational vehicle parks and recreational camps
  • Personal care services
  • Death care services
  • Dry cleaning and laundry services
  • Other personal services


Governor Wolf’s proposal maintains the following sales tax exemptions, many of which he says protect Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents:

  • Food
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Prescription drugs and orthopedic equipment
  • Gasoline and motor fuels
  • Physician and dental services
  • Manufacturing and processing equipment
  • Hospitals
  • Tuition (college, vocational training and instruction)
  • Exempt government units
  • Residential utilities: telephone, electricity, fuel oil and natural gas
  • Water and sewage services
  • Trade-in value
  • Purely public charities
  • Liquor or malt beverages purchased from bars and restaurants
  • Common carriers

The governor's proposed budget also calls for a freeze on tuition at state universities.

This is a budget proposal and must be passed by the legislature.

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