IN RECENT WEEKS, there has been robust public discussion regarding the proposed legislation by Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Councilman Bill Green that would recalibrate the Business Privilege Tax (BPT). We applaud them, and City Council, for bringing focus and discussion to this matter. The fact that Council's Committee of the Whole spent almost two days of public hearings on this matter is an excellent first step toward reforming the city's tax policy, to spur economic recovery.
As we all know, we are recovering from a severe recession with a fragile city budget. There is no margin for error when calculating tax incomes on which the city relies to operate. Any proposal to restructure the city's tax policy should be done with great care. It is for this overarching reason that we cannot support the Green/Sanchez legislation in its present form. The proposed legislation creates a complex tax shift that theoretically would enhance some city-based businesses at the expense of others. In our view, the two days of public testimony highlighted not only groups of theoretical economic winners and losers, but also the confusion surrounding the actual jobs gained or lost in this city and region under the proposal.
There are elements of the bill that are worth further discussion, like an across-the-board exemption from the gross receipts tax for the first 100K of receipts earned by a business. We are encouraged that representatives from the Nutter administration signaled that they are willing to work with Council to find ways to incorporate this key exemption into next year's city budget.
With unemployment numbers still high and a currently uncertain financial landscape, it is clear that we have a very difficult fiscal situation looming for our city. Working together, we believe that the Council and the mayor's administration legislative and executive branches of the city can find ways to reduce the cost of government and reduce the tax burden while establishing a solid financial foundation.
We can find the solutions and set a road map of progress. We cannot, in the process, jeopardize the financial stability of the city. We must find better ways to make the city work for its residents, employees, and visitors.
Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber
Nicole R. Giles
African-American Chamber of Commerce
of PA, NJ & DE
Narasimha (Nick) Shenoy