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Student debt: Philadelphia councilman proposes $1,500 a year in tax credit for recent graduates

Philly residents who graduated within the past five years and owe at least $35,000 in college loans, would be eligible for the tax credit being proposed by Councilman David Oh. A public hearing is scheduled on Tuesday at City Hall.

Councilman-at-large David Oh has a proposal to help graduates struggling with student loan debt.
Councilman-at-large David Oh has a proposal to help graduates struggling with student loan debt.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Are you or your kids Philly residents — and carrying $35,000 or more in student debt?

A new tax credit of $1,500 annually is up for debate Tuesday at City Hall. Councilman David Oh sponsored Bill 190616, which would grant up to $7,500 in tax credits over five years to those paying off student loans.

Even if you’re new to the city but moved here within five years after graduation, you’d be eligible for the tax credit. (That means you, millennials.)

Oh will discuss the bill from 10 a.m. till noon in City Hall Room 400 and wants the public to attend, offer comments, and debate its merits.

The credit would offset individual Philadelphia city wage and net profits taxes, according to Oh’s office. The student or graduate alone — not cosigners — could claim the tax credit. Unused tax credits could be carried over to a subsequent year, but could not be used beyond the fifth year after graduation.

This include vocational education, community college, beautician and technical schools, you name it. Pretty good deal if it passes. It’s unclear how the city would find revenue to offset this credit.

Under the proposed legislation, graduates may claim the tax credit by filing a petition produced by the Philadelphia Department of Revenue to receive a refund. For more information or to express your views, contact Oh’s office at 215-686-3452.

According to the bill, "any graduated students who are or become residents of the city of within five years after graduating from a post secondary education institution and who have remaining unpaid student debt exceeding $35,000 shall be entitled to a credit against any tax imposed upon them by the City of Philadelphia … for each year or part of any year that they are a resident of Philadelphia during the five years immediately after graduating from a postsecondary education institution in an annual amount equal to the unpaid student debt of the graduated student up to and including $1,500 annually.” The full copy of the bill is here:

The Philadelphia area is ground zero for America’s student loan crisis, as Pennsylvania graduates in 2018 ranked No. 1 in the nation for student debt load, with an average $36,193 loan balance. Delaware and New Jersey ranked third and 12th, respectively. Philadelphia boasts dozens of colleges, universities, and medical schools, producing nurses, doctors, lawyers, and graduate students who struggle under five- and even six-figure student debt.

Business speakers at B. PHL festival

FS Investment’s Michael Gerber will speak at the B. PHL Innovation Fest on the firm’s efforts to teach high schoolers financial literacy. His talk on Oct. 16, starting at 4:50 p.m., is part of B. PHL’s larger festival, and will take place at Independence Blue Cross at 1900 Market St.

Registration is required. Gerber is senior managing director of corporate affairs. FS helped create a financial literacy program in 15 Philadelphia high schools. In partnership with the Wharton School, professors and college students educate high school kids about how to generate multigenerational wealth and financial empowerment.

Also speaking at B. PHL is Blackstone cofounder and Abington native Stephen Schwarzman. Blackstone was founded in 1985 and now manages more than $500 billion in assets, and a network of portfolio companies that employ around 500,000 people across the United States.

Schwarzman cofounded Blackstone with Peter G. Peterson, and the company has nearly 2,500 employees. He’ll discuss his experiences and give the audience a glimpse into his new book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence.

Last year, he came under fire for donating $25 million to the Abington School District in exchange for renaming the high school after himself. The secret agreement with the billionaire sparked outrage from local parents and alumni around the country.

Schwarzman will speak 3 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Fitler Club, 1 S. 24th St.

For more information and to register, visit Tickets start at $25 for students and go up to $200 for access to the entire conference.