PHILADELPHIA—Councilmembers Kendra Brooks (At-Large), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), and Helen Gym (At-Large) issued the following statement on the proposed tax cuts to the Business Income & Receipts Tax (BIRT) and the City’s wage tax.
“Our city’s recovery relies on deep investments in our public services, in rebuilding after decades of austerity and the pandemic’s devastation, in saying that Philadelphia’s future is brighter with investments in excellent public schools, quality parks and recreation centers and libraries, jobs for all Philadelphians who want one and more. Workers and businesses come to Philadelphia for support from our city services, for our dense concentration of customers, and for our vibrant arts and cultural institutions. They will return when our city is safe and flourishing, and that requires investments in the public services and institutions that make us a desirable place to live and work – not a return to using 1980’s trickle-down economics to hand out tax breaks for wealthy individuals and profitable corporations.
“The pandemic had extreme impacts on Philadelphians. On one hand, a handful of mega-corporations flourished, and local billionaires increased their profit margins. And on the other, community members made meager wages in unsafe work environments and faced unprecedented food and housing insecurity. Black and brown people, immigrants, and women, who were more likely to be essential workers, contracted the virus and died at higher rates. Our senior neighbors and people with disabilities struggled to receive adequate care. And our young people have only begun to feel the effects of the learning losses and social isolation.
“While the American Rescue Plan Act might bring us back to funding levels of years past, we need far more to fix the cracks in our system that the pandemic exposed and meet the needs of our communities. That is why we stand firmly against Mayor Kenney’s proposal to give away $343 million in tax cuts over five years by reducing the Business Income & Receipts Tax (BIRT) and the City’s wage tax—cuts which will primarily benefit rich corporations, with two thirds of the wage tax cuts going to suburbanites, while placing an added burden on city residents.
“To address the gun violence epidemic and the looming housing crisis, we must make concerted investments in the services that keep our communities healthy and safe. The $343 million in proposed tax cuts should be used to fund concentrated counseling services and guaranteed youth employment in neighborhoods and schools most impacted by gun violence, expand rec center programming into the evening, provide libraries that are open every day, ensure safe and affordable housing, and strengthen our homeless services. It should be used to protect our young people, our workers, and the arts.
“Now is the time to be bold in our vision of what a recovery for Philadelphia means. We should be pursuing more equitable sources of tax revenue, not resorting to regressive policies that fail to strengthen the public services that our families and neighborhoods need to recover and build a more equitable city. Right now, we have an opportunity to prioritize the communities hit hardest by the pandemic and invest in future generations. We must seize this moment and make Philadelphia a city that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”
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