Pennsylvania Democrat Fighting for Tax Law That Saves Him Thousands

Steve Santarsiero takes stand to keep taxes low on wife's $800k lawyer salary

Steve Santarsiero and Ronni Fuchs
August 17, 2016

Pennsylvania legislator Steve Santarsiero is spearheading the fight to save the Pennsylvania-New Jersey tax pact, but has failed to disclose his own financial interest in making sure that his side wins.

Santarsiero launched a petition last week to dissuade New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R.) from ending the tax agreement, which allows Pennsylvania residents who work in neighboring New Jersey to pay income tax in their home state.

Santarsiero’s motives in the fight are not entirely unselfish. Financial disclosure forms he was required to file as a candidate for U.S. Congress show that his family’s major breadwinner is his wife, who happens to commute from Pennsylvania to New Jersey for work.

Santarsiero brought in $85,339 in 2015 for his work in the state legislature, a salary that pales in comparison to the $837,882 that his wife Ronni Fuchs made working in Princeton, N.J., as a partner at law firm Pepper Hamilton LLC.

Pennsylvania has a flat personal income tax of 3.07 percent, which would impose a tax burden of $25,723 on Fuchs’ income.

If Fuchs paid income tax in New Jersey, she would fall into the state’s highest tax bracket, paying a rate of 8.97 percent minus a standard deduction of $17,042.50—leaving her with the much larger bill of $58,116.

Pepper Hamilton confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that Fuchs works at its New Jersey office.

The Santarsiero campaign did not return requests for comment.

Santarsiero's opposition to the change in tax policy comes as New Jersey conducts a review of its agreement with Pennsylvania.

Christie launched the review to determine whether New Jersey could balance its budget by ending the reciprocal tax agreement. His order came amid a budget battle with the state's Democrat-controlled legislature.

A spokesman for the governor's office said he could not discuss opposition to the change in tax policy "until that review is complete and further studied by the Governor's staff."

Santarsiero is running to represent Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional district.

Published under: Pennsylvania