Skip to comments.70 Years Later, Pennsylvanians Still Paying Johnstown Flood Tax
Posted on 02/01/2012 6:05:51 PM PST by dickmc
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) The old newsreel videos of the Johnstown Flood of 1936 are certainly terrifying as residents flee the rising river. The aftermath left a city destroyed with 30,000 homeless.
With such carnage apparent, Pennsylvania enacted the Johnstown Flood Tax, a tax on every bottle of alcohol purchased in the state. It was enacted to rebuild the city.
By 1942, they had sufficient funds to rebuild the city, says State Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Beaver Falls. And yet the tax continued.
It continued and it was even expanded, he says.
And thats the rub. Nearly 70 years after Johnstown was rebuilt, the hidden flood tax adds 18 percent to the cost of buying alcohol in this state. It surprises most consumers.
Ive heard about the Johnstown Flood, but not the tax, says one liquor store customer in Robinson.
Well thats a surprise to me. Course nothings a surprise when you live in Pennsylvania, says another.
But it hasnt been done away with. This once temporary tax now generates $200 million a year for the general revenue fund, despite efforts by a few legislators like Marshall to repeal it.
Since 1997, I think there have been about 13 bills to repeal or reduce the tax, he recalls.
And all have gone nowhere, says Marshall, because so few people know about this 18 percent hidden tax.
The Johnstown Flood Tax has been with Pennsylvania so long after it finished its job that nobody really thinks its going to end any time soon. The key to ending it is public education. If more people know about it and complain to their legislators, it may be repealed.
In case you're wondering, the 1936 flood was small potatoes compared to the GREAT Johnstown Flood......
The Johnstown Flood (or Great Flood of 1889 as it became known locally) occurred on May 31, 1889. It was the result of the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam (an earthen dam purchased from a defunct canal and then poorly remodeled by an elite Pittsburgh hunting-fishing club including Mellon, Frick, Carnegie, etc.) situated 14 miles upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, made worse by several days of extremely heavy rainfall. The dam's failure unleashed a 35-foot torrent of 20 million tons of water (14,700 acre-feet) virtually scrubbing level the town of Johnstown and its suburbs in under four minutes. The flood killed over 2,200 of the 18,000 residents ...and caused $17 million of damage. (About $500 million in today's dollars.) It was the first major disaster relief effort handled by the new American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton. Support for victims came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries. After the flood, victims suffered a series of legal defeats in their attempt to recover damages from the dam's owners. Public indignation at that failure prompted a major development in American lawstate courts' move from a fault-based regime to strict liability.
My father always said there is no such thing as a temporary tax. He was right and this proves it.
yep, never met a politician or government for that matter, that didn’t like a new tax program, especially since they never, ever go away. Look at the tollway system of most major cities, once the roads were paid for, the tax, err, toll, was supposed to go away. 50 years later, they’re still here and several times higher than the original.
I think there is still a tax included in your phone bill which was to pay for the Spanish-American war in 1898. Who won?
And then dared the IRS to do something about it when no one settled up on April 15.
Ron Paul my ass.
Time to think about ways to put the boot on the necks of the apparatchiks in DC.
Withholding is their nuclear weapon against taxpayers.
What if a candidate for POTUS just came out and said that all Americans who actually PAY income taxes ought to stop withholding.
Good night nurse.
Alabama Still Collecting Taxes For Confederate Civil War Veterans. The last of the more than 60,000 Confederate veterans who came home to Alabama after the Civil War died generations ago, yet residents are still paying a tax that supported the neediest among them. Officials never stopped collecting a property tax that once funded the Alabama Confederate Soldiers Home, which closed 72 years ago. The tax now pays for Confederate Memorial Park, which sits on the same 102-acre tract where elderly veterans used to stroll. 138 years after the war ended and 45 years after the death of its last veteran. This tax was on property you owned so no one ever checked. Sneaky, lying politicians one and all!
Even though i live in South jersey...i would willingly and happily pay this tax...
I have a book HISTORY OF THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD by WILLIS F JOHNSON published in 1889.
Great read on everything about it. After the flood, there was a huge pile of debris in which electric arch lights were used at night and military explosives used to break up the pile and retrieve bodies. Looters were shot on sight, and most of the looters were found to be those EVIL low brow Eastern Europeans and Huns.
I recommend the book by David McCullough about the earlier flood. It was actually the second relief effort by the Red Cross with the first one being relief for the people suffering in north Texas from a catastrophic draught. My ancestors lived there and some of them including my great grandparents, moved to Purcell, Indian Territory, to escape the devastation. If you’ve ever been to western Oklahoma, then you know that they must have really been desperate. But if you enjoy audio books, get that version. It’s spell binding. Great for listening to in the car.
My grandmother’s brother was working for the railroad and was injured in a train wreck during that flood. I have a letter that one of her other brother’s wrote about the flood, describing the food being airlifted in and just saying that other than her one brother that was in the hospital, they were all fine. The town that they lived (Renovo) in was completely cut off, no way in or out.
They’ll end this tax, and pad it into several others all at the same time.
Too many leeches sucking on the taxpayer.