City seeks more input for tax policy task force

Based on my e-mail, lots of business owners have ideas on how Philadelphia should change its tax structure and improve its economic competitiveness.

Well, they have two days to compose those thoughts, because the Mayor's Task Force on Tax Policy & Economic Competitiveness is holding a public hearing in Room 400 in City Hall Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The task force wants to get feedback on some of the preliminary recommendations for changing the tax structure and real estate development environment. You can read a eight-page treatment of those ideas here.

Broadly, those proposals call for: more transparent interactions between business and government, a tax structure that encourages growth, and a lower overall tax burden. Obvious, I know. But there are more specific ideas, including:

* Lowering interest and penalties on tax underpayments. The task force has said the 12 percent annual interest and 30 percent penalty for the first 12 months are "abnormally high."

* Changing the rules the city uses to determine that share of a business' income that is subject to the business privilege tax and the net profits tax.

* Restoring the phased reductions in the wage and business privilege taxes by 2015.

But only two and a half hours for the public hearing? That doesn't sound like enough time.

With the task force's report due to City Council on Sept. 14, you have to hustle if you want your ideas heard. And it looks like this is a task force very capable of weighing evaluating the many ways that Philadelphia's status quo frustrates business people. The 17 task force members are a mix of businesspeople, labor representatives, academics and economic development officials.

Those who want to testify need to e-mail or call 215-686-6569 to be put on the list of speakers. And you're also being asked to bring copies of your testimony or e-mail it in advance. Don't leave home (or your office) without a photo ID or you won't get into City Hall.