Changes in local tax filings add new wrinkle
By Liz Hayes
Published: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
There's a new tax man in town, and residents need to make sure they file their local returns with him this spring.
State Act 32 went into effect last year, changing the way earned income taxes are collected at the local level.
Until now, taxpayers have had to do little to comply with the law.
Each county appointed a tax collection agency charged with collecting the EIT, or wage tax, directly from employers. Employers must withhold the typically 1 percent tax from employee paychecks. The funds regularly are remitted to the municipalities in which employees live.
Another change under the law is that taxpayers must file their local tax returns with the tax collection agency, rather than a local tax collector or treasurer's office as they have done in the past.
Berkheimer Tax Administrator is the agency collecting the taxes and tax returns for residents of Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland counties.
Keystone Collections Group was the agency appointed for the two tax districts in the Alle-Kiski Valley's portion of Allegheny County.
Representatives of both agencies said they have mailed the forms for filing 2012 local income tax returns to their counties' taxpayers, who should receive them soon if they haven't already.
Lower Burrell Treasurer Brian Eshbaugh said his office, which previously processed local tax returns, has received many calls so far this year from residents confused by or unaware of the changes.
He said some residents ignored or discarded the letter they received from Berkheimer, believing it to be a scam or junk mail. Others thought they still could file their return with Eshbaugh's office.
“Last year, when we handled the 2011 final returns, we sent out a notice to everybody that Berkheimer would be taking over,” Eshbaugh said. “Obviously, they forget.”
Jim Hunt, director of sales and client services for Bangor-based Berkheimer, said anyone who didn't receive, lost or threw out their form can call the company or log onto to their website to request a new one.
He and Joe Lazzaro, a vice president and general counsel for Irwin-based Keystone, said taxpayers also can file their local returns online — an advantage that rarely was available for local returns before.
Each company offers an e-file option on their respective websites, as well as explanatory information about filing the returns.
“What we're finding — this has already occurred in a lot of Allegheny County — taxpayers are getting their individual tax returns and they're going right online (to file),” Lazzaro said. “That's the fastest way to get a refund.”
Ideally, taxpayers should not owe any money: “If employers followed the letter of the law for Act 32, the taxpayers should not owe anything,” Hunt said.
Exceptions typically are people who are self-employed or have additional earned income.
But even if you don't owe taxes, everyone must file a tax return by April 15.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Just-acquired Harrison tract eyed as commercial site
- Cool chemistry: Programs at Springdale library take inspiration from late science professor
- 1 remains in hospital after knife fight in New Kensington apartment
- Instagram builds Oakmont barber’s rep for innovative cuts, ‘hair tattooing’
- Alle-Kiski Valley economic development group honored for police training
- Battle of Fort Hand 235th anniversary to open window into frontier life
- Tax law proves its worth by bringing in lost revenue
- Winfield Road bridge replacement to begin in 2015
- New Kensington police find stolen handgun, detain 2 juveniles
- PennDOT wants Rock Airport in West Deer to remain open
- Avonmore parents enter disabled child in contest for wheelchair-accessible van