Natural Gas Price Plummets, But Fracking Tax Still a Wolf Priority

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States that depend on energy resources to power their economies and budgets are tightening their belts as the prices of oil and natural gas fall, but that won’t — and maybe shouldn’t — stand in the way of a new fracking tax in Pennsylvania, officials say.

Governor-elect Tom Wolf, who takes office in two weeks, won election in part on a promise to impose a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas production in Pennsylvania and use the revenues — he estimated as much as $1 billion — to restore funding to the state’s K-12 public schools. But a “glut” of natural gas production is driving prices lower, and Wall Street is casting a dubious eye on companies making big drilling investments in the Marcellus Shale.

Which raises the question: Did Pennsylvania — the only gas-producing state without an extraction tax — miss its moment to tax the fracking industry for the best benefit of its citizens?

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Christine Flowers Defends U.S. Citizenship in New York Times

A week ago, the New York Times published an op-ed by Jonathan Tepper titled “Why I’m Giving Up My Passport.” The economist, who insists he is “not a tycoon”, says tax laws are too onerous for him to continue being a citizen.

“If America makes it so difficult to be American, I’ll happily just be British,” he wrote. Tepper has spent just eight of his 38 years living in the U.S. and has voted in only one presidential election, so it doesn’t seem like that much of a loss for the country.

Yesterday, responding to the article was none other than local columnist and lawyer Christine Flowers, who actually opens her two-paragraph letter with a Peggy Noonan-style personal anecdote.

Life is filled with ironies. Stopping by a Starbucks after a hearing in immigration court, I opened up the paper and read the essay by Jonathan Tepper explaining that he was renouncing his United States citizenship because of tax filing requirements. At a cerebral level, I could appreciate if not agree with his fiscal reasons for relinquishing his passport.

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Montco Township Facing $3.2 Million Deficit

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Franconia Township, in Montgomery County near the border with Bucks, recently told its residents it had racked up $3.2 million in budget deficits since 2011. The township has around 13,000 residents.

The Inquirer reports on a raucous — well, raucous for a suburban supervisors meeting in a township of 13,000 — meeting held earlier this month where township supervisors voted to lay off a third of its employees (including six cops, though two were part-time) and raise taxes 19 percent.

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Airbender Movie Given Pa. Tax Credits for California Work

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M. Night Shyamalan is a hometown boy: He has long favored shooting his movies in and around Philadelphia. The problem for his 2010 flick, The Last Airbender, is that it was an effects-driven film that would be conjured largely inside a computer — and the kinds of computers that do that work are largely in California.

No problem for Shyamalan, nor for his studio Paramount Pictures. The physical movie was shot here, the visual effects were produced in San Francisco — and the movie claimed a Pennsylvania credit for the work done in California.
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Philadelphians, Suburbanites Are Ripping You Off

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Philadelphians, you are being ripped off. No, not by the government. Nor the parking authority. Nor even the overpriced coffee shop on the corner. You’re being ripped off by none other than me. And my friends. And my neighbors. And it’s time you did something about it.

That’s because the people I know are ripping you off pretty much every weekend (and many weeknights, too). Don’t believe me? Take a look at center city’s streets on a Saturday night. Or the squares on a Sunday afternoon. Go to an Eagles or Phillies game. Ride up and down Kelly Drive. There are lots of Philadelphia residents there, of course. But there are also lots of non-Philadelphians. There are families from New Jersey, tourists from Chicago, and empty-nesters from Lower Merion. We’re all going into town. It’s fun. It’s safe. It’s inviting. We’re using your restaurants and taking advantage of your entertainment. But we’re not paying our fair share. And that’s why you’re getting ripped off.

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