Report shows 10-year tax abatement good for Philly, but people still hate it

Pat Loeb
May 24, 2018 - 6:23 pm
Reginald Ross

Pat Loeb-KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's 10-year real estate tax abatement is still delivering benefits that outweigh its costs, according to a report the city released Thursday. 

The study finds that the abatement helped the city recover from the recession, and consultant Reginald Ross says a portion of the development taking place would not have happened without it.

"It is also still clear that, in terms of helping Philadelphia stay competitive with its peer group, in terms of investment yields, the abatement is still significant," Ross said.

Nonetheless, the abatement is widely hated by many long-time residents. Just hours before the release, Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced a bill to repeal the School District portion of the abatement and a resolution to study placing geographic limits on what qualifies for it.

"Last year alone, the city and our schools forfeited over $40 million in tax revenue from the abatement," Gym said. "Studies also suggest the abatement might be contributing to disproportionately high displacement risks for long-time residents. The economy league of Philadelphia has recommended that smart and strategic tax abatement reform could yield significant revenue."

The study finds that eliminating the school district portion would yield an extra $2 million a year, but ultimately the city would begin to lose revenue because of development not taking place.