We Voted For It And We Paid For It — In 2002, the mayor and city council asked voters whether to create a Tax Reform Commission to recommend methods to reduce city taxes to enhance Philadelphia's ability to compete for residents and employers. By an overwhelming majority, approximately 80 percent of voters endorsed the idea and the Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission started its work in January 2003. After spending a half million dollars of taxpayer money and taking more than ten months to complete its work, the Commission released its tax reform blueprint. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can affirmatively declare that the overwhelming vote of endorsement, the taxpayer money, and the time were all investments to improve the city.
We Can’t Afford Not To — It may not be easy to reform the city's tax structure, but it is a necessary step if the city is to enjoy a bright future. Maintaining the status quo is simply a recipe for continued long-term decline. The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation concluded, "If Philadelphia tries to avoid the daunting challenge of restoring competitiveness we will continue to erode the job base that is the foundation for neighborhood stability and municipal services." By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can create a bright future for Philadelphia - truly, we can't afford not to.
Create A Better Future — Other cities continue to grow. The Greater Philadelphia region as a whole continues to grow. But the City of Philadelphia is still losing population. Those who remain here are less likely to be wage earners and less likely to be contributing tax dollars to the city. At the same time, they are more likely to be in need of services from government that draw upon the city's scarce resources. The most recent U.S. Census data indicate that, without change, Philadelphia's population will continue to become fewer, older, and poorer - this is a trend that threatens the city's very sustainability. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can attract and retain jobs and neighbors and create a sustainable future for Philadelphia.
Make The Tax Structure Fair For All — Similarly situated taxpayers should pay similar tax burdens. Unfortunately, in Philadelphia this is often not true. Certain business taxpayers pay more than their competitors and, most troubling, homeowners in some neighborhoods pay taxes based on a value that is greater than their houses are worth, while in other neighborhoods, homeowners pay taxes based on a small fraction of their homes' worth. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can improve the fairness of the city's tax structure and ensure that everyone is treated equally.
Foster Neighborhood Transformation — When jobs and neighbors leave Philadelphia, city neighborhoods decline. In its report, Tax Policy, Job Growth & Neighborhood Transformation, the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation declared, "Tax reduction and neighborhood revitalization are not polar opposites, but rather two sides of the same coin. Increased business competitiveness is a prerequisite for neighborhood transformation." By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can create jobs and generate investment in city neighborhoods and spread neighborhood transformation throughout the city.
Create Jobs, Jobs, Jobs — Tax reform is about jobs. If Philadelphia becomes a more attractive place to operate a business, existing jobs will be saved and new jobs will be created. The Tax Reform Commission estimates that its recommendations will create more than 47,000 new jobs in Philadelphia by 2010. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can create jobs in Philadelphia.
Expand Tax Revenues To Fund City Services — When the city has raised taxes in the past, it chased jobs and residents out of the city. But cutting taxes does not have to threaten city services. The City Controller's Office showed that after the city began to cut its taxes in 1996, Philadelphia finally experienced some job growth and actually increased its tax revenues substantially. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can increase - not decrease - tax revenues to fund city services.
Attract And Retain Neighbors — Every year the city population drops by thousands of people. This loss leaves neighborhoods across the city diminished and leaves scars of abandonment across the city. Tax reform will create job opportunities that will help attract and retain neighbors. According to the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, 44 percent of Center City office workers live in Philadelphia neighborhoods. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can help retain and attract neighbors to our communities.
Increase Property Values — For most middle-class families, a house is their most significant investment and their most significant asset. Philadelphia residential property values actually rank below lackluster cities like Newark, New Haven, and Hartford. The Tax Reform Commission estimates that its recommendations will increase the median house value in Philadelphia by more than $7,000 (about 13 percent) by 2010. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can increase the value of homes throughout Philadelphia.
Capitalize On National Employment Growth — Like most localities, Philadelphia’s economic fortunes generally depend on the health of the national economy. In the past, however, other places did better than Philadelphia when times were good and less bad when times were not so good. According to the City of Philadelphia’s Five-Year Plan, the gap between Philadelphia employment growth and U.S. employment growth has been cut by nearly 60 percent since the city began to slowly reduce its burdensome taxes. By enacting the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission, we can continue to close that gap.