Today, Wednesday, June 7th, community and labor leaders responded to a proposed plan by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on changes to the BIRT and wage taxes in this year’s City budget process. The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce plans to hold a rally at City Hall today to demand more tax giveaways, especially for big businesses. The Chamber tax plan, which circulated last week, includes cutting the wage tax and BIRT tax in half — which would cost Philadelphia’s city services over half a billion dollars in lost revenue over the next ten years. Last year, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center issued a report on how Philadelphia’s history of tax cuts have not helped to reduce poverty in Philadelphia; a full copy of the report can be found here

Philadelphia’s city budget has relied for the last three years on money from the American Rescue Plan Act which President Biden passed. That money will not be renewed and must be allocated in this year’s budget process.

In response, community and labor leaders issued the following:

“For the last three years, our budget has relied on an infusion of COVID stimulus money, but that funding ends next year. The Chamber of Commerce is trying to take a last giant chunk of funding that is meant to help communities and city services recover from the pandemic — money meant for spending on neighborhoods, not on business tax giveaways,” said Arielle Klagsbrun with Action Center on Race and Economy. 

““The Chamber plan enriches big corporations and rich CEO’s while perpetuating the lie that tax cuts will trickle down. In truth, robbing the City of over half a billion of dollars over the next ten years, the plan would decimate the services that are so desperately needed by so many struggling Philadelphians. Investing in robust city services is how we lift people up and create a Philadelphia for all,” said Stan Shapiro with Neighborhood Networks. 

“When the Chamber of Commerce pushes business tax giveaways, the question should always be: what vital city services does the Chamber want to cut? Our libraries? Recreation centers? Violence interruption programs? Our city budget and tax policy don’t happen in a vacuum — tax cuts lead to service cuts. We’re still recovering from the drastic cuts of 2008 financial collapse and now the pandemic. This is the time to invest in city services,” said Erme Maula from Friends of the Whitman Library of South Philadelphia. 

“For over a decade, we’ve fought hard to restore much needed funding to the Community College of Philadelphia, our K-12 schools and other much needed city services — beginning to repair over a decade of disinvestment particularly after the financial collapse. Our staff, our students and their families can only recover through deep investments and the highest quality education system. We should be looking for more and more ways to make college as affordable as possible for our students — not giving big businesses tax giveaways.” said Junior Brainard, President of Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia, AFT Local 2026. 

“Our members provide essential public services to the residents of the City of Philadelphia. Due to our current tax revenue streams these services are dependent on the BIRT and Philadelphia Wage to ensure they remain funded and functional. Prior to any cuts it would be fiducially responsible to secure alternative streams of revenue that can fund even more public services and avoid any negative impact on these resources our resident rely on,” said AFSCME DC 47 Local 2187 President David Wilson and 2186 Vice-President Brett Bessler in a joint statement.