Should Philly use gaming money to lower property taxes?
February 20, 2013By Holly Otterbein
Should Philadelphia’s gaming revenue be used to lower property taxes?
Since Mayor Michael Nutter is overhauling the property tax system, state Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-Philadelphia) wants to consider the option.
Currently, the city’s share of gaming money goes toward reducing the wage tax. Youngblood said Philadelphia is the only county in the state that doesn't use the revenue to lower property taxes for homeowners.
“I am already receiving calls from folks in my district who are terrified that they won't be able to meet their new tax liability,” Youngblood said in a statement. “We need to review our policy and determine what's in the best interest of all Philadelphia taxpayers.”
Under Youngblood’s proposal, a bipartisan legislative committee would study whether gaming money should go toward reducing wage or property taxes.
Last fiscal year, about $86 million in gaming revenue was used to lower Philadelphia’s wage taxes, according to Youngblood’s office. Nearly $56 million of that went toward reducing wage taxes for Philly residents.
The remaining $30 million helped suburbanites who work in the city.
Back when casino gambling was legalized, Youngblood said financial experts argued that Philadelphia should use gaming revenue to offset the wage tax because it was higher — and the property tax was lower — than in other parts of the state.
Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said that using gaming money to reduce property taxes would force the wage tax to go up, and “that’s not in line with the recommendations from the Mayor’s tax policy task force.”