Township of Bethlehem, PA
Northampton County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 12-27-1982 by Ord. No. 10-82 (Ch. 24, Part 4, of the 1988 Code); amended in its entirety 8-1-2011 by Ord. No. 05-11]
For purposes of this article, all terms defined in the Local Tax Enabling Act, 53 P.S. § 6924.101 et seq., shall have the meanings set forth therein. In addition, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth herein, unless the context shall clearly indicate otherwise:
EFFECTIVE DATE
January 1, 2012.
LOCAL TAX ENABLING ACT
The Local Tax Enabling Act, 53 P.S. § 6924.101 et seq., and as amended in the future, including any regulations adopted by the Department of Community and Economic Development thereunder.
TAX
The tax on earned income and net profits imposed by this article.
TAX OFFICER
The person or entity appointed as tax officer pursuant to the Local Tax Enabling Act to collect the tax in the TCD.
TAXPAYER
A person or business required under this article or the Local Tax Enabling Act to file a tax return or to pay tax.
TAX RETURN
A form or forms prescribed by the Department of Community and Economic Development, or by the Tax Officer with the approval of the TCC, for reporting the amount of tax or other amount owed or required to be withheld, remitted or reported under this article or the Local Tax Enabling Act.
TAX YEAR
The period from January 1 to December 31 in a single calendar year.
TCC
The Tax Collection Committee established to govern and oversee the collection of income tax within the TCD under the Local Tax Enabling Act.
TCD
The Northampton Tax Collection District, or any future tax collection district, to which the Township or any part of the Township is assigned under the Local Tax Enabling Act.
A. 
General purpose resident tax. The Township hereby imposes a tax for general revenue purposes at the rate of 1% on earned income and net profits of residents of the Township.
B. 
General purpose municipal nonresident tax. The Township also imposes a tax for general revenue purposes at the rate of 1% on earned income and net profits derived by a nonresident from any work, business, profession, or activity, of any kind engaged in within the boundaries of the Township.
C. 
Ongoing tax. The tax shall continue at the above rates during the current tax year and each tax year thereafter, without annual reenactment, until this article is repealed or the rate is changed.
D. 
Local Tax Enabling Act applicable. The tax is imposed under authority of the Local Tax Enabling Act, and all provisions thereof that relate to a tax on earned income or net profits are incorporated into this article. Any future amendments to the Local Tax Enabling Act that are required to be applied to the tax will automatically become part of this article upon the effective date of such amendment, without the need for formal amendment of this article, to the maximum extent allowed by 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1937.
E. 
Applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures. The tax shall be collected and administered in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations; and with rules, regulations, policies and procedures adopted by the TCC or by the Tax Officer in conformity with the Local Tax Enabling Act. This includes any regulations, policies, and procedures adopted in the future to the maximum extent allowed by 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1937.
Although credits and deductions against the tax are permitted under certain circumstances as provided in applicable law and regulations, no individuals are exempt from tax based on age, income, or other factors.
Every taxpayer receiving earned income or earning net profits in any tax year shall make and file tax returns and declarations and pay tax in accordance with the Local Tax Enabling Act and the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the TCC and Tax Officer. A taxpayer is required to file timely an annual tax return even if no tax payment is due and owing. In addition, even though a resident of the Township did not have earned income or net profits in the prior tax year, the resident must file an annual tax return, when requested to do so by the Tax Officer, stating the reason why there was no income or net profits to report.
Every employer shall register, require employee residency certificates, withhold and remit tax, and file tax returns and withholding statements in accordance with the Local Tax Enabling Act and the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the TCC and Tax Officer.
A. 
Collection of tax. The tax will be collected from taxpayers and employers by the Tax Officer. The Tax Officer is authorized to file an action in the name of the Township for the recovery of the tax due to the Township and unpaid. Nothing in this section shall affect the authority of the Township to file an action in its own name for collection of the tax under the Local Tax Enabling Act.
B. 
Criminal complaints for violations. The Tax Officer is authorized to file criminal complaints on behalf of the Township for violation of this article or the Local Tax Enabling Act. Nothing in this section shall affect the authority of the Township to file a criminal complaint on its own behalf for violation of this article or the Local Tax Enabling Act.
In the event of violation of this article or the Local Tax Enabling Act, or nonpayment of tax, taxpayers and employers are subject to interest, penalties, costs, and fines in accordance with the Local Tax Enabling Act, including costs of collection imposed by the Tax Officer in accordance with authorization by the TCC. The Tax Officer may retain reasonable costs of collection in accordance with the Local Tax Enabling Act and as approved by the TCC.
The primary purpose of this article is to conform the Township's currently existing earned income and net profits tax to the Local Tax Enabling Act, as amended and restated by Act 32 of 2008, and to do so within the time frame required by Act 32. Any prior ordinance or part of any prior ordinance conflicting with the provisions of this article is rescinded insofar as the conflict exists. To the extent the provisions of this article are the same as any ordinance in force immediately prior to adoption of this article, the provisions of this article are intended as a continuation of such prior ordinance and not as a new ordinance. If this article is declared invalid, any prior ordinance levying a similar tax shall remain in full force and effect and shall not be affected in any manner by adoption of this article. The provisions of this article shall not affect any act done or liability incurred, nor shall such provisions affect any suit or prosecution pending or to be initiated to enforce any right or penalty or to punish any offense under the authority of any ordinance in force prior to adoption of this article. Subject to the foregoing provisions of this section, this article shall supersede and repeal on the effective date any ordinance levying a tax on earned income or net profits in force immediately prior to the effective date. The tax imposed by this article shall not apply to any person as to whom it is beyond the legal power of the Township to impose the tax herein provided under the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
This article is intended to be consistent with the Local Tax Enabling Act. The article is intended to include all necessary authorizations to permit the Tax Officer to take all actions for the collection, administration, disbursement, and enforcement of the tax and all other actions on behalf of the political subdivisions of the TCD as authorized by the Local Tax Enabling Act, subject to the policies and procedures of the TCC. To give full force and effect to this article, the authority of the Tax Officer shall be interpreted in the broadest permissible sense for the benefit of the Tax Officer's ability to perform its duties.
The provisions of this article shall become effective on January 1, 2012, and shall apply to earned income received or earned and net profits earned or made by a taxpayer during calendar year 2012 and each year thereafter without annual reenactment unless the rate of tax is subsequently changed. Changes in the rate of tax shall become effective on the date specified in the ordinance imposing such change.
A. 
Definitions. The following words and phrases when used in this section shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
ACTIVE VOLUNTEER
A volunteer for a volunteer fire company listed under § 240-49-1B(3) of this section (hereinafter "volunteer fire company") who has complied with, and is certified under, the Volunteer Service Credit Program.
EARNED INCOME TAX
A tax on earned income and net profits levied under Chapter 3 of the Act of December 31, 1965 (P.L. 1257, No. 511), known as the Local Tax Enabling Act ("the "Act").[1]
ELIGIBILITY PERIOD
The time frame when active volunteers may earn credit under the Volunteer Service Credit Program.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE CALL
Any emergency call to which a volunteer responds, including travel directly from and to a volunteer's home, place of business or other place where he/she shall have been when the call was received.
QUALIFIED REAL PROPERTY
A residential real property owned and occupied as the domicile of an active volunteer.
STATE
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
TOWNSHIP
Bethlehem Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.
VOLUNTEER
A member of a volunteer fire company.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 6924.101 et seq.
B. 
Volunteer Service Credit Program.
(1) 
Establishment. The Township hereby establishes a Volunteer Service Credit Program (the "Program"). The goal of the Program is to encourage membership and service in the volunteer fire companies.
(2) 
Program criteria. The Board of Commissioners of the Township shall establish, by resolution, the annual criteria that must be met to qualify for credits under the Program based on the following:
(a) 
The number of emergency response calls to which a volunteer responds;
(b) 
The level of training and participation in formal training and drills for a volunteer;
(c) 
The total amount of time expended by a volunteer on administrative and other support services, including but not limited to:
[1] 
Fundraising;
[2] 
Providing facility or equipment maintenance; and
[3] 
Financial bookkeeping.
(d) 
The involvement in other events or projects that aid the financial viability, emergency response or operational readiness of a volunteer fire company; and
(e) 
The total number of years a volunteer has served.
(3) 
Eligible entities. The Program is available to residents of the Township who are volunteers of the following volunteer fire companies and that provide services to the Township:
(a) 
Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Company; and
(b) 
Nancy Run Fire Company.
(4) 
Eligibility period. A volunteer must meet the minimum criteria, set by resolution under this section, during the eligibility period to qualify for the tax credits established under § 240-49-1C for 2018, and each subsequent year thereafter, the eligibility period shall run from December 1 until November 30.
(5) 
Recordkeeping. The chief of each volunteer fire company listed under § 240-49-1B(3) shall keep specific records of each volunteer's activities in a service log to establish credits under the Program. Service logs shall be subject to review by the Board of Commissioners, the State Fire Commissioner and the State Auditor General. The chief, or supervisors, shall annually transmit to the Township a notarized eligibility list of all volunteers that have met the minimum criteria for the Program. The notarized eligibility list shall be transmitted to the Township no later than 45 days prior to the date the tax notices are sent each year. The chief or supervisor shall post the notarized eligibility list in an accessible area of the volunteer agency's facilities.
(6) 
Application. Volunteers that have met the minimum criteria of the Program shall sign and submit an application for certification to their chief. The chief shall sign the application if the volunteer has met the minimum criteria of the Program, and forward it to the Township Fire Marshal.
(7) 
Municipal review. The Township Fire Marshal shall review the applications for credit under the Program and shall cross-reference them with the notarized eligibility list. The Board of Commissioners of the Township shall approve all applicants that are on the notarized eligibility list. All applicants approved by the Board of Commissioners of the Township shall be issued a tax credit certificate by the Township.
(8) 
Official tax credit register. The Township shall keep an official tax credit register of all active volunteers that were issued tax credit certificates. The Township Fire Marshal shall issue updates, as needed, of the official tax credit register to the following:
(a) 
Township Manager;
(b) 
Chief of each of the volunteer fire company(ies); and
(c) 
Township Finance Director.
(9) 
Injured volunteers.
(a) 
An emergency responder that is injured during an emergency response call may be eligible for future tax credits. The injury must have occurred while responding to, participating in, or returning from an emergency response call with one of the volunteer fire companies.
(b) 
An injured emergency responder shall provide documentation from a licensed physician with the application required under § 240-49-1B(6) stating that their injury prevents them from performing duties to qualify as an active volunteer. In such case, the injured emergency responder shall be deemed an active volunteer for that tax year.
(c) 
An injured emergency responder shall annually submit the application required under § 240-49-1B(6) along with updated documentation from a licensed physician stating that the injury still exists and prevents them from qualifying as an active volunteer. The injured emergency responder shall again be deemed an active volunteer for that tax year. An injured emergency responder shall only be deemed an active volunteer for a maximum of five consecutive tax years.
C. 
Earned income tax credit.
(1) 
Tax credit. Each active volunteer who has been certified under the Program shall be eligible to receive tax credit of up to $1,000 of the earned income tax levied by the Township. When an active volunteer's earned income tax liability is less than the amount of the tax credit, the tax credit shall equal the individual's tax liability.
(2) 
Claim. An active volunteer with a tax credit certificate may file a claim for the tax credit on their Township's earned income tax liability when filing a final return for the preceding calendar year with the Tax Collector for the Township.
(3) 
Rejection of the tax credit claim.
(a) 
The Township Finance Department shall reject the claim for a Township real property tax credit if the taxpayer fails to provide the documents required under § 240-49-1D(2)(a) of this chapter.
(b) 
If the Township Finance Department rejects the claim, the taxpayer shall be notified in writing of the decision. The notice shall include the reasons for the rejection and provide the method of appealing the decision pursuant to § 240-49-1E.
(c) 
Taxpayers shall have 30 days to appeal the decision of the Township Finance Department.
D. 
Real property credit.
(1) 
Tax credit. Each active volunteer who has been certified under the Program shall be eligible to receive a real property tax credit of 20% of the Township tax liability on qualified real property. If the tax is paid in the penalty period, the tax credit shall only apply to the base tax year liability.
(2) 
Claim.
(a) 
An active volunteer with a tax credit certificate may file a claim for the tax credit on their qualified real property tax liability for the Township's real estate tax levy. The tax credit shall be administered as a refund by the Township Finance Department. An active volunteer shall file the following with the Finance Department.
[1] 
A true and correct receipt from the Township real estate tax collector of the paid Township real property taxes for the tax year for which the claim is being filed;
[2] 
The tax credit certificate;
[3] 
Photo identification; and
[4] 
Documentation that the tax paid was for qualified real property as defined in this section.
(b) 
If the active volunteer provides all documents required under this subsection, the Township Finance Department shall issue the tax refund to the active volunteer.
E. 
Appeals.
(1) 
Earned income tax credit appeals.
(a) 
Any taxpayer aggrieved by a decision under § 240-49-1C shall have a right to appeal said decision;
(b) 
A taxpayer shall have 30 days to appeal a decision or rejection of claim; and
(c) 
All appeals of decisions under § 240-49-1C shall follow the provisions of the Act of May 5, 1998, P.L. 301, No. 50, known as the Local Taxpayers Bill of Rights.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See 53 Pa.C.S.A. § 8421 et seq.
(2) 
Real property tax credit appeals.
(a) 
Any taxpayer aggrieved by a decision under § 240-49-1D shall have a right to appeal said decision;
(b) 
A taxpayer shall have 30 days to appeal a decision or rejection of claim; and
(c) 
All appeals under § 240-49-1D shall follow the provisions of 2 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 5, Subchapter B (relating to practice and procedure of local agencies), and 2 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 7, Subchapter B (relating to judicial review of local agency action), also known as the "Local Agency Law."[3]
[3]
Editor's Note: See 2 Pa.C.S.A. § 551 et seq.