Philadelphia Forward Releases Film To Show The Face Of Tax Reform

Film Shows The “Face” Of Tax Reform
Philadelphians Say: “Eliminate The Job-Killing Business Privilege Tax To Grow Jobs”
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Philadelphia Forward today released the film Community Voices Speak Out:  Real People For Real Tax Reform to focus attention on the need to eliminate the job-killing Business Privilege Tax to grow jobs in Philadelphia.  The film shows employers of small and growing firms from neighborhoods across Philadelphia condemning the onerous and unfair levy and calling on city leaders to enact the recommendation of the Tax Reform Commission to eliminate the tax by passing bill 040767 (currently pending before City Council).  The film can be viewed here.

“We made this film to show the ‘face’ of tax reform," said Philadelphia Forward Executive Director Brett Mandel.  "When some hear about tax reform, they think of corporate welfare or breaks for the rich, but eliminating the job-killing Business Privilege Tax is pure and simple neighborhood economic development.  If we can free Philadelphia’s small and growing firms from this awful tax, we can grow jobs in neighborhoods across Philadelphia.”

The film includes interviews with business owners and neighborhood business organization representatives, as well as footage of testimony from a February 16th City Council hearing on legislation to phase out the Business Privilege Tax.  Dozens of Philadelphians are seen or heard in the film including:  Tom Forkin (Humdinger Inc./American Street Erie Avenue Business Association), Rick Oliveri (Rick’s Steaks/Reading Terminal Market Merchant Association), Sister Aisamah Muhammad (Lancaster Avenue Business Association), Jessie Frisby (Jessie's Ladies Shoppe/South Street West Business Association), and Vincent DeFino (DeFino Law Associates/South Philadelphia Business Association).

The seven-minute film is an accessible way to illustrate some very serious issues:

  • High and unfair taxes have contributed to the loss of about 250,000 jobs in Philadelphia since 1970.
  • If you start a business in Philadelphia, the City considers it a "privilege" that should be taxed, not economic development that should be encouraged.
  • Unlike other cities, Philadelphia imposes a “Business Privilege Tax” — a .19% tax on business receipts even if a business makes no profit, as well as a 6.5% tax on business income if it does.
  • The City’s Tax Reform Commission drafted a blueprint for changing city taxes that will retain and attract 47,000 jobs by 2010 and 125,000 jobs by 2017.
  • Small and growing neighborhood businesses — that do not get special tax-free zones or tax incentives to mitigate against the burden of the city’s high business taxes — are most hard-hit by the city’s job-killing taxes.
  • The City’s Tax Reform Commission concluded that high and unfair taxes stand as a fundamental barrier to job growth in Philadelphia — to help grow jobs, the Commission recommended phasing out the Business Privilege Tax over the next decade.
  • The recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission were endorsed by the Mayor’s own 21st Century Review Forum transition team that declared:  "The mayor's very important quality of life strategies will not have the desired impacts or be sustainable in the long run in the absence of fundamental tax reform."

“After watching the film, Philadelphians — and especially our city’s elected leaders — must conclude that we have to phase out the job-killing Business Privilege Tax to grow jobs in Philadelphia,” Mandel said.  “After hearing that we must eliminate the job-killing Business Privilege Tax from the Tax Reform Commission, the Mayor’s 21st Century Forum Transition Team, the Mayor’s Economic Summit — and now from owners of small and growing businesses across Philadelphia — opposition to the recommendation is nothing short of a willful act to continue the city’s ongoing job loss.”

Mandel added, “I hope people view the film and I hope that they are compelled by the idea that Philadelphia is losing jobs and residents without tax reform to visit, where they can learn more about the need for tax reform and get involved in the push for change.”