City Council bills call for reform of 10-year tax abatement

Pat Loeb
January 24, 2019 - 4:45 pm
Philadelphia City Hall

Courtesy of Paul Gluck

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's tax break on new construction has been controversial since it started 20 years ago. Now, a City Council member is calling for it to be phased out. 

Councilwoman Helen Gym conceded the 10-year tax abatement has been a powerful tool for spurring development, but with a strong housing market and Center City real estate booming, she questions whether the program is still worth the loss of tax revenue.

"It's time for reform," she said, "and reform of this abatement is a vehicle for school funding and it's a vehicle for equitable communities and to make sure the city remains affordable as well as prosperous."

Gym introduced two bills that would put boundaries on what neighborhoods would be eligible for the abatement. It would put a cap on the total value of an abatement and it would gradually phase out the 100 percent abatement by 10 percent a year. 

She hopes the bills spark a discussion about how best to reform the program.

"It's time to have this debate," she said.

The Kenney administration said it's open to discussion. A study it conducted last May found the benefits would continue to outweigh the cost for some time.