Reforming Philadelphia's Residential Tax Abatement

While the abatement can be a 'wealth magnet' for the city by generating market value from tax-free properties, the real benefit may be limited to the developers who cash in.

"How best to describe Philadelphia's 10-year residential tax abatement: Is it the city's most effective economic development tool or most inequitable public policy?

You can find plenty of evidence for both points of view in a recent Fels Institute of Government study (available at www.sas.upenn.edu/fels).

In one sense, the abatement is just what our city needs: a wealth magnet. This policy, through which the market value of new residential development can enjoy property tax-free status for a decade, generated $485.5 million in new market value in Philadelphia from 1999 to mid-2005."

"But as public policy, the abatement is lacking in one important respect: Most of the direct benefit of this incentive goes to the developers of high-priced townhouses and condominiums."

Thanks to John Kromer

Full Story: Using city's tax-abatement windfall

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