PA Budget Deal Approved: Marcellus Landowners are the Losers

Pennsylvania has just reached a new budget agreement for the next fiscal year, weighing in at a staggering $28.05 billion. Those who smoke cigars and use smokeless tobacco can breathe easier (or perhaps not)—your bad habit has escaped the tax man yet again this year. There are no state taxes on cigars and smokeless tobacco. But if you’re a landowner who’s getting royalty payments, you’re about to get soaked. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before the politicians, who can’t resist taxing everything under the sun, would not be able to resist a severance tax on gas drilling. It’s now happened:

The [budget] agreement calls for the Legislature to enact a severance tax on natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale by Oct. 1, Rendell said, with the tax becoming effective Jan. 1, 2011. He said he would like to see a tax rate close to West Virginia’s, which is roughly 6 percent.*

It makes no difference if the tax is levied on the drilling company or not—ultimately this tax will come out of the pockets of landowners because expenses are always passed back. Oh well, it was a good run while it lasted. At least they’re drilling in PA!

*Pittsburgh Business Times (June 29) – Rendell: Pa. reaches budget agreement