Over Mayor Michael Nutter’s objection, Philadelphia City Council has voted to reduce the tax on commercial parking lots and garages. But it’s unclear whether the bill will make it any cheaper to park in the city.
Philadelphia had made a habit of raising the parking tax in hard fiscal times. It now stands at 20 percent, on top of the other business and property taxes lot owners pay.
The bill, approved by on a 12-to-5 vote, would gradually lower the tax to 17 percent, but the reductions wouldn’t start for two years.
Nutter, who said the city still needs the revenue, said that when lot owners testified before a City Council committee in May, they wouldn’t commit to passing their tax savings on to consumers.
“It’s an insult and a rip-off to the parking public that they would be able to get this kind of tax benefit just to them, while not reducing their rates,” Nutter said.
Nutter said that in two years he hopes to resume the annual business tax cuts the city enacted before the 2008 recession. He said it’s unfair to grant the parking industry special tax relief.
Robert Zuritsky, president of the Philadelphia Parking Association, said his members are helping increase the city’s revenue by assisting officials in locating lots that haven’t been paying taxes. He said rates to the public will come down, though the Council bill doesn’t require it.
“There’s not a binding commitment (to cutting rates), no,” Zuritsky said. “But I can tell you if our burden goes down and they also start to even the burden out with all the rogue operators that are not paying their share, rates will come down.”
Nutter declined to say if he would veto the bill, but he sent Council members a letter before their vote making it clear he disapproved of the measure.