Compared with other cities, Philadelphia doesn't fare well in tax policy. Our wage tax is an anomaly; the net profits tax is a drag in generating new business and job creation; and the system is overly complex and full of loopholes and exceptions.
As mayor, one of my first actions would be to establish a commission of stakeholders charged with establishing a consensus plan on tax reform. Our tax policy needs to be fair, straightforward, and far simpler. The commission will consider a complete overhaul of business and other taxes, with a goal of encouraging employers to come to the city, helping small-business start-ups to stay in the city and thrive, and strengthening the overall tax base.
Reducing the wage tax should continue until it is no longer an obstacle to attracting and retaining employers. We also need to pay attention to retaining middle-class families, which not only revolves around the property tax, but also the quality of schools and job opportunities.
As confirmed by analyses done by Econsult, Kevin Gillen, and Jones Lang LaSalle, the 10-year real estate tax abatement has served the city well. Overall, the abatement has been and continues to be effective in growing the city and strengthening the tax base. I would maintain the existing abatement, and support extending it to 20 years in neighborhoods just beyond the reach of development. This could be a game changer and transform those areas in the years to come. Legislation will be needed in Harrisburg to authorize the extension beyond 10 years.