Joshua911's blog

Who wants to help out homeowners unfairly assessed?

Recently individual homeowners have fought against against increasing assessments even as the property market withers and jobs are lost, and fixed incomes don't keep up. Now,with the BRT back and badder then ever, there is an idea that a lawsuit may be needed to fix our valuation system. This was sent to me, and I wanted to share it with the site.

When it Comes to Property Taxes… Philly Deserves Better

As a tax-paying Philadelphian, you have a right to know:

The way the City calculates property taxes is inequitable, inaccurate and illegal.
• Inequitable -- studies by independent experts show that lower-valued properties are assessed at much higher tax rates than more valuable properties. Consequently, residents in struggling neighborhoods pay higher property taxes than they should, while residents in affluent neighborhoods pay less than their fair share. WHO pays more? Largely minority property owners.

Trash Fee and Sugar Tax Seem DOA, So....

What do we do now? I mean, we have long-term reforms that make sense, like taxing non-profits, or making taxes that are regressive more progressive, but that calls for action from Harrisburg, and we are a weakened city, and representatives from both parties outside Philadelphia are loath to assist.

Council has decided that the trash fee is the definition of regressive, a a putative soda tax falls on one of the few mass-employers left in Philadelphia's private sector. In the long-run, an economy based on government jobs, eds and meds isn't going to work. We need to bring back families and business and provide wealth-creating opportunities for those still here, yet still pay the bills.

Trash Fee = Flat is Whack

On March 17, we joined many concerned citizens and groups to comment in council on the proposal to add a "soda tax" and more importantly a flat fee for trash collection.

Since the soda tax really isn't the classic excise tax, we gave it short shrift. It'll bring in some revenue, that's about it.

But the regressivity of the flat fee for trash collection really needs to be re-examined. after a brief flurry of news and noise, attention has drifted, so I wanted to bring it back and keep in peoples' minds.

The impact on poorer areas is truly astonishing. The tables attached to our testimony makes that clear. In many neighborhoods, the flat trash fee far exceeds the total property tax an average house pays, and when the city portion of the property tax is isolated the numbers go off the charts bad.

Demand a Screening of the "End of Poverty?" in Philadelphia

The "End of Poverty?" is a documentary years in the making. Produced by Cinema Libre Studios, this has been called "An Inconvenient Truth" on the reality of global - and local - poverty. Philadelphians needs to see this film, produced by and featuring an array of progressive thinkers, writers and activists from all over the globe.

To quote from the web page for the film:

Renowned actor and activist, Martin Sheen, narrates The End of Poverty?, a feature-length documentary directed by award-winning director, Philippe Diaz, which explains how today's financial crisis is a direct consequence of these unchallenged policies that have lasted centuries. Consider that 20% of the planet's population uses 80% of its resources and consumes 30% more than the planet can regenerate. At this rate, to maintain our lifestyle means more and more people will sink below the poverty line.

Land Value Tax Discussion This Saturday, 9/26

LVT and AXI in Philadelphia: Saturday Discussion
Tax policy by the numbers and with a philosophy.

The 2009 budget crisis in Philadelphia came down to the wire. How could it have been avoided? By implementing a progressive form of land value taxation, a self-generated fiscal solution can be in the cards, without overly-burdening working and poor residents. Urbantools staff will demonstrate how with blazing graphics and a gripping narrative! Find out why Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez, amongst others, has asked for full study of land based taxation.

All are welcome. When someone tells you that the money's not there for essential city services, you can have an answer at hand. Come on down, tell us what you think and give us a chance to make our case.

When: Sep 26, 2009 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am
Where Henry George School, 413 South 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Contact Name: Barbara Maloney (RSVP if you can)
Contact Phone: 215-923-7800
Attendees: The Public

Mr. Nutter Goes to Harrisburg

It's Our Money's Ben Waxman had a nice set of factors that might make the sales tax hike get accepted in Harrisburg called "Selling the Sales Tax," including my favorite weird rationale that started with Mrs. Verna: the higher rate will help business elsewhere.

Who thinks this will pass? Why do people think the silence has been deafening on this phase of the process? And hey, Ben, who the heck is CleanUpPhilly?

Where do we go from here? Down to the lake I fear.

For the record this is my screed on the sales tax issue right now.

The question unasked in all of this is: How in the face of declining receipts at a 7% rate, will more revenue get collected at a higher 8%? State-wide, receipts from the sales tax dropped $100 million below estimate, to about $600 million. In Philly itself the decline is 6.7%.

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

Marcellus Matters: Gas Severance Tax Conference/Webinar

When they drill, who pays the bill?
Pass the gas tax for protection of our land, water, wildlife and communities.

Join us for a Webinar on
May 11 at 7 pm or May 13 at noon

Space is limited.

Reserve your place for the webinar on Monday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at:

Reserve your place for the webinar on Wednesday, May 13 at Noon at:

The proposed natural gas severance tax could provide 100s of millions of dollars to land, water and wildlife conservation and to local communities. Over the next two months the Governor and legislature will be considering enactment of this tax. This webinar will provide participants with the information they need to work to boost conservation funding and reinvest in Pennsylvania’s natural resources.

Council Budget Testimony: all should show up if they can

The Henry George Foundation signed up yesterday and submitted testimony. Our plan is to help bridge the gap between the Mayor and the council's competing proposals. With less than two weeks to go, many ideas are floating, but no common ground has been achieved. We proposed combing the sales tax increase with LVT using the current BRT assessments, thereby changing - albeit modestly - the sales tax increase into a "tax on foreigners living abroad". We got a lot of questions, and had the data broken out by District and then city-wide.

Council was disappointed at the lack of attendance, but at least we had the luxury of being asked in-depth questions and a request to the chair by Councilman Green for a fuller study was accepted by CP Verna.

Helen Gym gave a sharp and persuasive presentation on BRT employees skulking in School District corridors. Helen's command of the subject impressed many.

March 5th Event on Budget and Taxes

Hanging out near the Coral Street Arts House tonight? join the NKCDC on a discussion of taxes, budgets and economic sanity...

New Abatement Article

The New York Times has a good article on tax subsidies and abatments poaching from the high-tax climate of New York. Interestingly, one of the main opponents to big abatments is Kevin Gillen of Econsult.

What we Need from Harrisburg to Protect Low-Income Property Owners

I think it's good that many posters here want to pressure Harrisburg to pass laws that will help reform Philadelphia's systems and improve revenue streams without adversely impacting those with a reduced ability to pay, one of the canons of modern taxation.

Here's some ideas that one of my board members and I wrote up in support of a bill introduced by Rep. Rosita Youngblood. None of these ideas are original (except LVT!, but they are used to a great extent in other states; Pennsylvania is back in the dust as far as state-wide options or protections for low-income property owners.

It's meant more as a digest,with some commentary on the merits of each program. I hope this helps as a resource.
H. William Batt, Ph.D. Center for the Study of Economics
Joshua Vincent, Director, Henry George Foundation/USA

The Either/Or Trap

The choice that conventional wisdom posits is: tax cuts or service cuts. Again, if we get away from the taxation of mobile things (jobs, capital, commerce) then we can avoid the trap of assuming there is a linear debate and and linear way to act: run from one end of the line to another. There isn't. We live in a bumpy, roundish granular world.

The city can, right now, shift its budget needs away from taxation of the disappearing things, and tax instead that which will never disappear: land and its inherent value.

I propose taking the tax breaks that privilege grants: Comcast, Cira Centre, Sunoco, etc. and extend that same non-taxation of labor and capital to all Phladelphians. It's called land value tax.

We explain and demonstrate this on our new project

Unless one believes that vacant land owners and waters of valuable land deserve total love and hugs, a land value tax is something people can use to jump off that defined little linear path.

Council Committee Passed the Freeze

The debate today was strangely detached, some pro and con forces were heard. I wish I had been recognized by the chair to speak :( ,but I think council's 'tude - except for Bill Green and Frank Rizzo was one of resignation.

I suppose it was all set up anyway, but I wish more people had shown up to express dissenting views.

Tax reductions will stop, even though Rob Dubow acknowledged they reduce inter-city competitiveness, and huge slashes will be made to programs, so the script played out as it was written.

Everyone talked about New York and their problems, which was weird, but if I'd had the chance, I would have mentioned that a higher tax on vacant land was signed into law for NYC this summer.

I hope the people will recognize that a land value tax can provide community-created revenue so that the tax rate reductions could continue without reducing citywide tax receipts.

Recurrent Crises: Budgets

A new day, and a new way and an old crisis. I am sure we've all noticed that Philadelphia's budget problems reoccur every 10 years or so, no matter who is at the helm. A rethink of what should be taxed and how taxed must be at the heart of any and future current debates and policy.

Every crisis puts the most vulnerable programs and people at risk. Why them? Well, they don't have a constituency and advocates with ideas that move beyond traditional nostrums.

How about this idea. Just for thought then action?

Philadelphia's Budget: Everyone's Right

Mayor Nutter’s announcement of today is understandable, yet also avoidable. Understandable because the traditional reaction to an economic downturn in government is to cut services, lay off workers and rethink taxes. Avoidable because all options should be on the table, but are clearly not.

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