Thursday, November 17, 2011

Loopholes R Us

So it at least rates a news story that the sale of the Steel Building downtown is somehow going to be exempt from the real estate transfer tax that most folks have to pay. 

The Philadelphia Business Journal had a remarkable piece in the spring on the lack of interest in Pennsylvania in even thinking about changing this "89-11" loophole.  Basically the state dropped interest in reforming the loophole based on public input, which I can only speculate means the input was all from real estate owners and investors and I bet none from anyone else.  No outrage, no change, no revenue.

So in this particular case, it seems that even if the sale had happened in Philadelphia, it would have been exempt from the transfer tax.  Nonetheless, what I have pointed out before and before, is that Philadelphia captures a lot more of the transfer taxes than we do because of more stringent requirements on what is exempt.  That could be fixed if the powers that be so chose.  Unfortunately it is not a local issue, but like so much of city finances dependent on state legislation. Still if there is no political will for a change then it will never happen anyway.

So this one transaction lost the city of Pittsburgh more than the entire Library tax will bring in for more than a year. Maybe a year and a half or more, and that is without counting the additional revenue it would bring the school district and the state even.  One transaction!  Compare the amount of public effort focused on the library tax referendum and how much anyone will even notice that one article in the paper today.. to be forgotten about tomorrow.  I am so confused by what generates public interest, let alone news coverage. 

Makes you wonder what the cumulative loss to the city has been over the last decade in lost transfer tax revenues?


Anonymous BrianTH said...

Modest tax increases for public services are treated like pulling teeth, but massive loopholes for wealthy entities go largely ignored?

Why, someone ought to start a movement . . .

Thursday, November 17, 2011 5:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sen. Ferlo is trying:

Friday, November 18, 2011 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

This thread is probably unread by now, but apparently this type of tax avoidance is widespread.

Sunday, November 27, 2011 4:05:00 PM  

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