Insider: Allan Domb’s Truly Awful Idea

Photo by Jared Piper/Courtesy of City Council's Flickr

Councilman Allan Domb | Photo by Jared Piper/Courtesy of City Council’s Flickr

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.) 

Many Philadelphians cheered real estate developer Allan Domb’s election to City Council last year. Finally, they said, a real businessman who could bring innovative, market-savvy solutions to our city’s economic problems.

But those lofty hopes fell to earth with a dull thud when Domb introduced his first major piece of legislation: a bill to double the 10-year residential tax abatement to 20 years for houses worth $250,000 or less. It seems great on the surface, but it’s actuality a terrible idea.

Domb claims this expanded tax break on new home construction and major rehabs will encourage developers to build houses in struggling neighborhoods, and lead owners of blighted properties to fix them up.

It’s a laudable goal, one we all should support. But his proposal won’t actually further that goal, and will cost us precious tax dollars to boot. Domb’s plan will fail because it’s based on a misunderstanding about how the abatement works — a misunderstanding that’s shocking given his reputation as a real estate mogul. Read more »

N.J. Bill Would Close Corporate Tax Loophole

Democrats in the New Jersey State Legislature introduced a new bill that would close a corporate tax loophole.

State Senators Ray Lesniak, Linda Greenstein and Paul Sarlo introduced a bill that would require “combined reporting” on income from multi-state corporations. Some corporations use subsidiaries to report income from New Jersey in other states — so they can avoid New Jersey’s 9 percent income tax. Read more »

Late on Taxes? Didn’t File? A “Tax Amnesty” Could Help You Make Things Right.

(Creativa Images/Shutterstock)

(Creativa Images/Shutterstock)

Maybe you put off paying your taxes a little too long. Maybe you never filed in the first place. If that’s the case — and you’re worried about state government cracking down on you — some good news may be in the offing: A tax amnesty could be on the way.

Rep. Marguerite Quinn, a Bucks County Republican is proposing a tax amnesty to give scofflaws a chance to make good while at the same time raising fresh funds for state government. Taxpayers seeking amnesty would receive reduced interest on their unpaid taxes, as well as a eduction of other penalties. Read more »

Donald Trump’s Tax Plan Costs Government $10 Trillion

Developer Donald Trump displays a copy of his net worth during his announcement that he will seek the Republican nomination for president, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Like it or not, Donald Trump is looking more like a presidential candidate that’s in the race for the long haul — and now he’s beginning to offer specifics into what a Trump presidency would look like.

Earlier this week, he released his plan to change the United States tax code. It would consolidate seven tax brackets into four, and create a large base of people who pay no taxes at all. Top earners would see their tax rate fall from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, while those earning $50,000 to $150,000 per year would pay 20 percent. Trump says the plan would lead to growth of upwards of 6 percent per year. Read more »

Why Camden and Its $1 Billion in Tax Breaks Isn’t Growing at Philly’s Expense

shutterstock_CAMDEN-SKYLINE-940X540

Since September 2013, when Gov. Chris Christie signed into law New Jersey’s Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the state has approved more than $2 billion in tax credits and incentives for the recruitment and retention of jobs and capital investment. A main focus of the Act was to incentivize development in economically distressed areas — especially Camden.

As a result, more than $1 billion in tax credits have been approved for companies to relocate or expand in Camden such as Holtec International, the Philadelphia 76ers, Subaru, American Water, Lockheed Martin, European Metal Recycling, and Cooper Health. (See the table below for more detail.) Read more »

Study: PA Has Second-Highest Tax Rate for a Coprorate HQ

(Creativa Images/Shutterstock)

(Creativa Images/Shutterstock)

Pennsylvania’s tax rate is particularly tough on corporate headquarters and independent retail stores, according to a new study by the Tax Foundation and KPMG. The state is kind to capital-intensive manufacturing and labor-intensive manufacturing, the study found.

In an effort to examine corporate tax costs in all 50 states, researchers designed seven model firms, and calculated each firm’s tax bill in each state. Each firm was modeled twice in each state: once as a new firm eligible for tax incentives, and once as a mature firm not eligible for such incentives. Read more »

Did Philly’s Biggest Dark Money Group Break the Law?

1. The dark money outfit Philadelphia 3.0 may have violated city law — and been a flop.

The gist: A new, intriguing organization sprung up this year that was aimed at taking out some City Council incumbents and replacing them with more business-friendly faces. Parking magnate Robert Zuritsky founded Philadelphia 3.0, which includes both a traditional political action committee and a more secretive nonprofit corporation. NewsWorks’ Dave Davies reports that the Philadelphia 3.0 PAC raised 72 percent of its funding in 2015 from its own nonprofit, which is not revealing its donors. Is that legal in Philadelphia? Campaign finance expert John Dunbar said “there’s nothing in federal court rulings that prevent cities from requiring disclosure from nonprofit corporations like Philadelphia 3.0, and the city Ethics Board has said it expects such groups to disclose their donors,” writes Davies.

Read more »

The Brief: We’ll Soon Know the Names of All Cops Who Shoot Civilians

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

1. The police department is going to start releasing the names of officers who fire at civilians.

The gistCity Paper reports that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced in a memo yesterday that “the department will immediately begin disclosing the names of officers who discharge their firearms in Officer-Involved Shootings ‘within seventy-two (72) hours of the incident.'” According to the memo, this was one of the recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice in its scathing report on police shootings in Philadelphia. Also, the department will examine each case to ensure that “no threats are made toward the officer or members of their family prior to the release of this information.” Read more »

5 Questions About the Future of Philly’s Schools

Students have a modest request of City Council. | Photo  courtesy of Philadelphia City Council. Produced and Edited by Michael Falconi and Jenae Brown.

Earlier this year, students made a modest request of City Council. | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr

Philadelphia City Council did something Thursday that it’s done a lot in recent years: voted to increase both taxes and education funding. Lawmakers expect to raise an extra $70 million for the city’s schools by hiking the property, parking and use-and-occupancy levies.

So, where does that leave the school district? Somewhat better off than it was before, no doubt. But it’s not out of the woods yet, either. Its future depends on the answers to these five big questions, which we should learn in the coming weeks: Read more »

Philly Is Getting an 8.5% Airbnb Tax

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Airbnb is about to get a lot less laissez-faire in Philadelphia.

City Council passed a bill, 15-0, Thursday, which is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Michael Nutter, that will force anyone who rents out their home on Airbnb or similar websites to pay Philly’s 8.5 percent hotel tax. That’s just the first new rule that will go into effect under the legislation: Hosts who rent out their homes for more than 90 days will have to get a rental license, and no one will able to rent out their homes for more than 180 days annually.

Currently, many people who use Airbnb in Philadelphia are technically part of the city’s black market, since short-term rentals are not permitted in residential areas. This new bill will legalize the industry. Read more »

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