NHL Players Ass’n v. City of Pittsburgh, 2024 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 12 (January 10, 2024) (Ceisler, J.).
The issue is whether the Facility Tax violates the Uniformity Clause. The other question is whether the court erred in issuing an injunction as the unconstitutional language could have been severed from Section 271.03(a) of the Ordinance. Trial court affirmed. Section 304 of the Local Tax Enabling Act provides that a second class city with a publicly funded sports stadium or arena may impose a Facility Tax upon those non-resident individuals who use a facility to engage in an athletic event or otherwise render a performance for which they receive remuneration. The Uniformity Clause provides that all taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within its territorial limits of the authority levying the tax and shall be levied and collected under general laws. Thus, non-resident athletes paid a 3% tax, while resident athletes paid a 1% EIT. The trial court rejected the city’s argument that residents and non-residents bore an equivalent tax burden of 3% because the 2% school tax paid by the residents was levied by the district, not the city. The court declined to find uniformity in a tax levied by a separate entity for a separate purpose. Accordingly, the tax was found unconstitutional. The city failed to provide a requisite concrete justification for treating residents and non-residents as distinguishable classes that may be subject to different tax burdens. As to severability, the court concluded that the Facility Tax violates the Uniformity Clause, and the question is whether the language should have been severed from the rest of the Act. The court finds that remaining valid provisions, standing alone, are incomplete and are incapable of being executed in accordance with the legislative intent.