tax reform

A Decade of Deep Cuts in PA. Don't Let It Happen.

Deep state cuts have already put health care at risk for kids and denied help to families struggling in this economy. They have put thousands out of work in schools, colleges, nursing care facilities and hospitals.

Think that’s bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Pennsylvania House may vote as soon as next week on a bill that will cut corporate taxes by close to a billion dollars by the end of the decade. More cuts to schools and health care will be next.

House Bill 2150 would close some corporate tax loopholes in Pennsylvania, but it is paired with big tax breaks for businesses. Even after counting new revenue from closing loopholes, this bill is a big money loser for the commonwealth.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Better Choices for Pennsylvania has an Action Page where you can send a message to your House lawmaker to reject this bill as is and to take steps to close tax loopholes more responsibly. Closing loopholes should not come at the price of budget deficits for years to come.

We’ve all seen the state budget headlines in recent months. 88,000 kids have had their public health coverage cut off. 14,000 Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs in schools and colleges. College tuition is rising, and help for families struggling in this economy is harder to come by.

Closing corporate tax loopholes could help Pennsylvania turn things around, but not if lawmakers pair it with business tax cuts that will cost us now and for years to come.

Lets Make the Best Deal on Tax Reform

Philadelphia Councilperson Joan Krajewski had a letter published in yesterday's Daily News calling for a new approach to collecting back taxes. She argues that

We need to make a deal with the people who owe the city $1.2 billion in back taxes by allowing them to come on down and pay their debt in exchange of waiving the interest and penalty during an amnesty program.

If we don't, who knows what is behind the curtain or trap door? It could be even more cuts in more city services, it could be more job layoffs, it could be a city bankrupted wishing we shoulda, woulda, coulda "made a deal."

Mayor's Task Force on Taxes and Competitiveness

Missed nearly everyone at the first public hearing on the Mayor's Task Force on the tax structure, and economic competitiveness. Jonathan Stein showed up, nice to see, but otherwise the witness part of the room was nearly empty.

On the selfish side, I'm glad the LVT advocates had lots o'time, but on the public service side, I'd suggest that anti-establishment viewpoints try to make the next one.

The Chamber of Commerce had all the time in the world to build a case for privilege and their pro big dogz agenda.

Next one's in August.
Joshua Vincent

You won't be reading Jonathan Stein's letter to the Daily News in the paper, so I thought I'd post it here

To the Daily News Editor,

If there's living proof that the Reagan era's legacy of unabashed subsidies for the wealthiest lives on, despite the biggest recession since the Depression, its the People's Paper zealous embrace of tax abatements for buyers of $7.7 million condos at Two Liberty Place. (Editorial of Apr. 6, 2009) Beyond your bold assertion of the necessity of this tax give-away, there's no convincing evidence that the private market place would not have developed these prime locations for mega-millionaire purchasers.

Your editorial relies uncritically on a flawed Building Industry Assn. funded study, done by the usual research-for-hire crowd who will defend any tax abatement or break for any client. The industry report, for example, assumed that everyone moving into tax abated residences are new residents into the City, and will add to city wage taxes now and property taxes in the future. We know this is untrue. The Inquirer's story on abatements last December reported on Pat Burrell's $37,284 annual abatement on his Center City $2.6 million condo, and he was already a Center City resident who lived in unabated properties. His lawyer was quoted as saying, "the abatement played no role in Pat's decision" to move there.

Indeed, although you quoted abatement booster Paul Levy, Levy's own 2006 Center City District survey of new residents found that 60% of new residents to Center City already lived in the City, presumably already paying property and wage taxes, and that for all new residents in Center City surveyed, the inducement of the 10 year tax abatement ranked #16, dead last, among top inducements like proximity to shopping and entertainment and neighborhood safety (the latter aided by property tax-funded police).

Your editorial relying soley on an industry funded report, completely ignores the major, independent national report done in 2005 by Indiana University, and which was cited by Peter Kerkstra in his Dec. 14, 2008 Inquirer story--the best local news story on the subject. Indiana University researchers found abatements wasteful and too generous, and flawed, and its main author, Prof. C. Kurt Zorn, was quoted by Kerkstra as saying that Philadelphia's abatement was "overly generous" and that "it makes absolutely no sense" as it is not targeted to low income or blighted areas and has no caps, for example.

The City has the most generous, non-targeted abatement give-away program in the nation. When all other property taxpayers in the City are facing a tax increase of $271 million over the coming two years, continuing this tax abatements now just doesn't pass the basic smell test for fairness.

Jonathan M. Stein

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