City of Philadelphia Begins Tax Reform Process

PhiladelphiaImage by Richard Emerson

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Philadelphia Tax Reform Working Group this week began to study and recommend changes to the city’s tax code to support Philadelphia’s equitable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tax Reform Working Group, named by Philadelphia Mayor Kenney and Philadelphia City Council, consists of administration appointees, Councilmembers and business and community stakeholders, whose job is to create an action plan for tax reform that will help the creation of the Fiscal 2023 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan to be released early next year.

“Meaningful reforms to City taxes have been made in the last decade,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “These reforms, including the rate reduction to the Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) and changes to apportionment, have helped to grow small businesses and jobs, and reduce barriers, and make Philadelphia a better place to do business. As we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, this working group will build upon prior successes to support equitable and inclusive growth for all Philadelphia neighborhoods.”

“City Council and mayors have done real work reducing taxes in recent years, but we understand our residents’ and local businesses’ needs,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District). “We will be laser-focused on jobs creation and assisting small, neighborhood businesses in this next round of tax reform.”

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The Tax Reform Working Group will meet between September and December 2021 and will produce several key deliverables, including results from a community survey, a series of video presentations containing critical tax context, and a final report containing recommendations.

The group will seek to develop recommendations for tax reforms that spur jobs growth in Philadelphia, help to grow new businesses, and attract existing businesses to relocate into the city.

The Working Group brings together diverse, experienced stakeholders to enact tax code reforms based on a shared vision that every neighborhood in the city should prosper. The members of the Working Group are drawn from three sectors: City Councilmembers, Kenney Administration officials, and local leaders with subject matter expertise jointly appointed by Mayor Kenney and Council President Clarke.

Councilmember Derek Green, who chairs Council’s Finance Committee, said: “The Tax Reform Working Group will have the power to make real change for the citizens of Philadelphia as we work to improve the City’s tax policy. During this difficult period in our history, it is critically important that we adopt policies that are equitable and provide the catalyst for the growth of our City. I am eager to work with my colleagues to develop economic opportunities that will benefit our City and empower our underserved communities to build better lives for themselves and their families.”

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Councilmember Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez, who chairs Council’s Appropriations Committee, said: “I’m proud that we are honoring our commitment to review the most updated data sets about our economic recovery during COVID-19 in 2020-21, and I look forward to a discussion about how to ensure a more inclusive equitable recovery for everyone in all parts of the city.”

Councilmember Allan Domb (At Large), who chairs Council’s Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee, said: “I look forward to continuing my work over the last year to bring family-sustaining jobs to Philadelphia and welcome additional ideas to address the ways our current tax structure impedes our ability to build a stronger tax base and grow the kind of jobs all Philadelphians deserve.”

The members of the Tax Reform Working Group include:

  • Council President Darrell L. Clarke
  • Councilmember Quinones-Sanchez (7th District)
  • Councilmember Green (At Large)
  • Councilmember Domb (At Large)
  • James Engler, Chief of Staff, Mayor Kenney
  • Rob Dubow, Finance Director
  • Frank Breslin, Chief Collections Officer/Revenue Commissioner
  • Michael Rashid, Commerce Director
  • Christina Hernandez, First Deputy Chief of Staff (alternate)
  • Ryan Boyer, Business Manager, Laborers’ District Council of the Metropolitan Area of Philadelphia and Vicinity
  • Kia Buckner, CPA, CGMA, Managing Partner, Horsey, Buckner & Heffler, LLP
  • Patrick J. Burns, President and CEO, Metro Philly Management
  • Lee Huang, President and Principal, Econsult Solutions
  • Susan Jacobson, President, Jacobson Strategic Communications
  • Jabari Jones, President, West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative
  • Jennifer W. Karpchuk, Esq., State and Local Tax Practice Co-Chair and Shareholder, Chamberlain Hrdlicka
  • Matthew Melinson, Partner, Grant Thornton LLP
  • Folasade (Sade) Olanipekun-Lewis, Regional Director, Government and Airport Affairs, American Airlines
  • Wayne W. Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting, Temple University
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