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Consensus on Changes to Property Tax Abatement Too Challenging for Philadelphia

Despite over a year of proposals, counter proposals, and heated debate, the city of Philadelphia has yet to broker a breakthrough on proposed reforms to the city's ten-year property tax abatement program.
July 3, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Philadelphia Councilmember Helen Gym has made reforming the city's 10-year property tax abatement a top legislative priority, proposing bills in 2018 to change the subsidy, and sparking a wave of debates and further suggestions for changes in the time since.

Despite all the debate and suggestions, "when Council’s spring session concluded last month, none of the six pending abatement reform bills had received so much as a hearing," according to an article by Jake Blumgart. The question raised by Blumgart is why the reform of the property tax abatement is so easy to talk about but so hard to deliver.

Gym has "refused to place blame on specific actors." Mayor Jim Kenney says consensus has been hard to build. Still, despite the strong support of the current abatement from two of the city's most influential local interest groups, the real estate industry and building trades unions, the tide does some to be turning in favor of making the property tax abatement work to the benefit of affordable housing more than it does in its current format. As noted by Blumgart, some builders also support the idea of reforming the current tax abatement.

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Published on Monday, July 1, 2019 in PlanPhilly
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