Who Says We Can’t Afford Tax Reform?

Not The City’s Tax Reform Commission

The Tax Reform Commission was charged with creating recommendations for tax reform that are “fiscally responsible.” The Commission created an incremental plan that will improve the city’s ability to retain and attract firms and families without compromising critical city services.

In its Final Report, the Tax Reform Commission wrote:

“As tax reform improves Philadelphia’s economy, the tax base will grow; revenues will increase and there will be no long-term negative net fiscal impact. However, while the economy adjusts, a short-term fiscal gap may affect budgeted priorities. The Commission considered steps to address this critical problem. As a result, we are confident that the City can ‘finance’ tax reform, and that the proposed package is fiscally responsible.”

Some of the Commission’s recommendations to make the tax reform package fiscally responsible include:

  • Collect delinquent taxes from those who currently do not pay.
  • Initiate a tax amnesty program to collect back taxes.
  • Expand efforts to achieve efficiency in all city departments.
  • Generate new tax revenues from new jobs and tax-base growth.
  • Analyze and increase the City’s Fine and Fee Structure to discourage violation of the law and ensure that fee revenues cover the cost of the services they are intended to fund.

Not The City’s Elected Fiscal Watchdog

City Controller Jonathan A. Saidel has consistently argued that Philadelphia can achieve tax reform without hurting the city’s ability to serve the citizenry.

Testifying before City Council, Controller Saidel declared:

“Many wonder if the city can afford tax reform. It is clear we can’t afford not to do it…. I can firmly assert that the Tax Reform Commission’s proposals are fiscally responsible.”

(Council of the City of Philadelphia Public Hearing before the Committee of the Whole, Wednesday, February 25, 2004.)

Not The City’s State-Appointed Fiscal Oversight Board

The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority has consistently argued for the need to expand the city’s tax base to ensure that the city’s budget is balanced for the future.

Testifying before City Council, Joseph C. Vignola, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority said:

“The strength of the Commission’s report is that it makes considered attempts to implement these changes while allowing for the current projected growth in the City’s Five-Year Plan….the Tax Reform Commission’s report offers a program for responding to future revenue shortfalls.”

(Council of the City of Philadelphia Public Hearing before the Committee of the Whole, Wednesday, February 25, 2004.)