Inquirer Editorial: Look at all city’s taxes

In a March 14 editorial, the Philadelphia Inquirer addressed needed reforms to Philadelphia's tax policies-

" addition to looking to curb the abatement program, Mayor Kenney wants to increase property taxes by 6 percent; raise the real estate transfer tax by 8.5 percent; and slow the minuscule cuts to the wage tax from 3.89 percent to 3.84 percent for residents by 2023. If approved, Kenney’s general fund spending will have increased by 17 percent, or $600 million, in just two years. State spending has increased 3.3 percent during the same period, while other cities are averaging 2 percent annual increases.

Kenney’s proposed tax hikes would come on top of four property tax hikes during Mayor Michael Nutter’s eight-year tenure as well as a host of other increases, including to the sales, parking, and hotel taxes.

To be sure, Philadelphia faces constant budget pressure, due in part to cuts in state and federal funding and heightened demand for pension and education funding. But the city’s need for new revenue must be balanced with the impact of its overall tax burden. Is there a more fair, efficient, and fiscally sound way?

Center City District president Paul Levy and Brandywine Realty Trust president Gerard Sweeney have long advocated increasing property taxes on commercial real estate, while lowering the job-killing business and wage taxes.

Likewise, as a mayoral candidate, Kenney often talked about his plan to do zero-based budgeting to find savings. (That would mean ignoring what was spent the previous year and starting from scratch to identify the cost and resources needed to perform various functions, such as trash pickup.)

Both of those ideas deserve serious consideration."

To read the entire piece, click here.