Two state representatives from Philadelphia have backed the mayor’s plan to tax commercial and residential properties at different rates despite constitutional prohibitions against such a plan.
“We should not be taxing commercial properties the same as residential properties,” said State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-198th.
Mayor Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke and School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos asked the State House of Representatives to amend the constitution so that commercial and residential properties could be taxed at different rates. But amendments must pass the General Assembly for two consecutive years before residents may vote.
The proposed amendment was introduced under a property relief package that includes bills to collect delinquent property taxes, to make tax payments in periodic installments and to provide relief for long term owner-occupants based on age and financial need.
“We’re trying to provide City Council with as many tools as possible to fix the property tax structure,” said State Rep. Jordan Harris. D-186th. “It fuels our school district.”
Sixty percent of the Philadelphia School District’s operating costs are funded by local real estate taxes. In 2012, 56 percent of real estate taxes came from residential properties.
“With the Corbett administration continuously cutting at what the states subsidy will be for schools,” said Harris, “property tax is the place where folks are going to fill that budget gap.”