Blondell Reynolds-Brown wants to double the Green Roof Tax Credit

Philadelphia’s Green Roof Tax Credit program must not be attractive enough, reasons Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown. Last year, according to her office, only seven businesses applied for the credit, which is meant to offset the cost of building green roofs on city buildings.

Of those seven applicants, only four were approved.

On Thursday, Reynolds-Brown introduced a bill that would double the value of the credit. Under the bill, applicants could receive a credit against their Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) for half the cost of constructing the green roof. Currently, the credit covers 25 percent of the cost.

So if you spend $10,000 to install a green roof above your business, you can currently reduce your business-tax liability by $2,500. The bill would raise that amount to $5,000.

“Green roofs bring a sizable value to the property owner and the city,” Reynolds-Brown said in a press release. “They control stormwater, help curtail flooding, grow fresh fruits and vegetables, pump clean air back into the atmosphere and save property owners money by extending the life of the roof. They also contribute to the Mayor’s big picture goal of making Philadelphia the Greenest City in America.”

The Green Roof Tax Credit has never been the city’s most popular incentive program. The program was created in 2007, at the end of John Street’s mayoral term. Since that time, only $42,670 in BIRT taxes have been waived for green-roof construction, according to the city’s response to a Right-To-Know request filed by PlanPhilly last summer. The city refused PlanPhilly’s request for a list of businesses claiming the Green Roof Tax Credit, citing tax-return confidentiality rules.

If that number is accurate, only around $170,000 has been spent in constructing tax-incentivized green roofs since 2007.

“We can do better,” Reynolds-Brown said in a statement. “I hope this bill encourages more business owners to step forward and go green.”

Reynolds-Brown’s office is also working on a bill that would establish a tax credit to offset the cost of creating stormwater management infrastructure for businesses. That bill could be introduced as early as next week.

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