Eighth District question: Views on tax policy

This is the seventh of ten questions NewsWorks asked the seven Democratic candidates running for the Eighth District City Council seat to respond to. We will be running their answers to questions nine and ten on Friday.

 

Would you favor changing the city’s tax structure? How?

 

VERNA TYNER:

Yes, I believe this is something we absolutely must address. We must ensure and enforce fairness in the municipal tax policy. That starts with large corporations that do business in the City but are located elsewhere. We must make sure they’re paying their fair share of the municipal tax burden.

Secondly, fair and equitable property taxes are demanded by the constituency of the Eighth District, and I will be a relentless advocate on behalf of property owners in our district. It’s clear that the Nutter administration’s approach – to try to play catch-up on missed revenue opportunities in the past without fully explaining or even acknowledging the tactic to Philadelphia residents – was the wrong way to go about addressing property tax reform. Regarding the Business Privilege Tax, I believe it is imperative for the City to establish business tax system that is equitable to everyone. However, I believe the business privilege tax legislation recently proposed by Councilwoman Sanchez and Councilman Green called for a shift too drastic to be undertaken at this time.

 

CINDY BASS:

Philadelphia’s business taxes are too high, but they are also unfair. There has already been some discussion regarding the City’s tax structure. I would support legislation that levels the playing field for both small and big businesses. There are multiple theories on how to better change the tax structure on Philadelphia. There are currently a couple schools of thought; there is the Green/Sanchez Bill and the one by the tax Reform Commission that recommends phasing out the BPT over the next 10 years. Once in office, I will study the variety of tax theories and get input from all involved and make an educated decision which puts Philadelphia in the best position to be competitive for business.

 

WILLIAM DURHAM:

Yes. I would work to change the business tax laws. We are one of or the worst place in the country to do business, this must change. I would in the short term give tax incentives, especially employment credits, lower cost for setting up shop. Set up attractive business districts. Long term, lower overall tax rates on businesses, and workers. Improve infrastructure for business. We must become the town that people want to do business in.

 

ANDREW LOFTON:

Yes, I’m in favor of changing the tax structure in the city of Philadelphia. I would modify the plan used in New York to spur their job growth rate. This begins with reducing the wage, sales and business taxes. In addition, I would change the way property taxes are assessed to being on using a formula times the amount of square feet of the land. I’m opposed to continuing the temporary 9.9% increase instituted by existing council. My approach is streamline offices, tighten belts, cut taxes and increase city revenue.

 

GREG PAULMIER:

I would embrace the kind of creative approach that the Green/Sanchez bill has offered for the Business Privilege Tax. I would work with the Chamber of Commerce to make sure any change in the tax structure would not hinder the business community and not penalize the public unfairly.

 

ROBIN TASCO:

Philadelphia’s taxes—all of them, including business, wage and real estate—should be made fairer. Businesses that locate outside the city should pay as much city taxes as those who have located in the city. City wage taxes should be lowered so that city residents have more money in their pockets to pay higher costs for the necessities of life—food, clothing, transportation and housing. Real estate taxes should be assessed at the real value of homes, so that similar homes are taxed at similar rates. Everyone should pay their fair share, with no loopholes allowed.

 

HOWARD TREATMAN:

Yes. In my policy paper on jobs and economic development, I call for returning to the steady reductions in wage and business taxes that were in place under Mayors Rendell and Street. I have also called for exempting small businesses generating less than $100,000 in profits from Philadelphia business taxes. Small business creation is the most immediate way to create jobs and harness the creative and entrepreneurial energy in our city. In addition, our business taxes hit self-employed people and sole proprietors especially hard. These reforms will help them stay afloat and encourage them to stay in the Philadelphia. As part of a longer process, I also call for a fundamental rethinking of our method of business taxation.

 

Tomorrow we’ll hear from the candidates on how you would ensure that donors won’t influence your decisions and what will they do to ensure that all of the Eighth District feels represented.

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