Tax task force calls for reforms, breaks little new ground

Mayor Nutter's Task Force on Tax Policy & Economic Competitivness has unveiled some preliminary recommendations, which will be the subject of a town hall meeting in Room 400 of City Hall from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. The recommendations don't include suggested tax rates, but are meant rather to sketch out some broad policy ideas. For folks familiar with the conclusions of the much-larger and much-more-widely-publicized Tax Reform Commission of 2003, the new recommendations will not include many surprises.

In short, the task force thinks the city's tax burden is too high and too reliant on wage and business taxes. Better, the task force thinks, to increase property taxes and reduce reliance on the other levies once the city and the BRT finally fix their property assessment system. There are some interesting observations on the need to enhance tax collection efforts, and a recommendation to launch a tax amnesty program and reduce interest rates and penalties on tax delinquents in an attempt to lower the delinquency rate. But the basis recommendations have changed little in the past six years.

It remains to be seen what, if anything, council and the mayor will do with the conclusions. Remember, Mayor Nutter - who named the task force - sought to raise property taxes this past year in an attempt to deal with the budget crisis. Council preferred a wage tax hike. Ultimately of course they settled on the sales tax proposal, which is still awaiting approval in Harrisburg.

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