Philadelphia City Council: Don’t You Dare with Resolution 160157

Philadelphia City Council: Don’t You Dare with Resolution 160157

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Philadelphia City Council
City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107


Dear Philadelphia City Council,

Philly Set Go, the first millennial PAC in Philadelphia and an organization committed to engaging and empowering Philadelphia’s largest demographic –– millennials –– strongly supports the Philadelphia Growth Coalition’s Levy-Sweeney plan.  We urge all Council members to vote against Resolution 160157, which could critically impair the viability of future job growth in Philadelphia. 

The plan is supported by a broad spectrum of organizations, including business, labor, and civic groups. This diversity of support underscores the importance all Philadelphians place on improving our City’s economic competitiveness. Philadelphia’s recent surge in population shows this is the urban community to live in, requiring the Philadelphia body politic to make Philadelphia the city we want to work in and build businesses.

This plan will improve Philadelphia’s economic climate by increasing the commercial real estate taxes while decreasing both business income and receipt tax (BIRT) and city wage taxes. The BIRT tax is a significant barrier for young entrepreneurs and business owners of all kinds to take a gamble and remain in Philadelphia. The city wage tax deters young people from becoming long-term residents of the City.  The aggregate effect of these taxes stifles the City’s growth and pushes millennials – whose hopes and dreams are in Philadelphia – out of our great city.

Philly Set Go firmly believes the adoption of the Levy-Sweeney plan will make Philadelphia more economically competitive, providing the job growth necessary to keep Philadelphia’s growing millennial population in the City.  Since the success of the plan requires a modification to Pennsylvania’s uniformity tax clause, a move that will require a modification to the state’s constitution, Philadelphia must speak with one united voice and supporting a plan that will be prosperous for the entire city. 

This Thursday, March 10th, Philadelphia City Council will vote on a resolution aimed at dividing us. The resolution disapproves of linking any increase in commercial real estate taxes with a decrease in BIRT and wage taxes. We ask that you not support this version of the resolution for three basic reasons:

  1. First, we must speak with a united voice. Resolution 160157, which provides no plausible way to improve Philadelphia’s economic competiveness while increasing commercial real estate taxes, stands little chance of gaining any support in Harrisburg. Passing this resolution will make Philadelphia appear divided, reducing the probability of success and widening the chasm between our City and the rest of the Commonwealth.
  2. Second, decreasing the BIRT and city wage tax will give millennials further incentive to create businesses and maintain residence in the city, spurring economic growth and creating more jobs in Philadelphia.
  3. Third, City Council will retain flexibility to craft tax policy for Philadelphia. The language of the amendment does not require the City to adopt the Philadelphia Growth Coalition’s plan. Rather, it gives the City the flexibility to use its tax policy as an instrument of economic growth by reducing the BIRT and city wage taxes, commensurate with increases in commercial property taxes. Resolution 160157 rests on a misapprehension that the Philadelphia Growth Coalition’s plan would restrict the city tax policy. 


Philadelphia is in the midst of a renaissance that is rightfully elevating the City to the world-class status it has always deserved. The Philadelphia Growth Coalition’s plan will seize on that momentum and improve the City’s economic competiveness.

As the fastest growing millennial population in the U.S., Philadelphia is going through a youth-driven civic and political revolution. However, that revolution is counting on you to create the economic climate for us to thrive. Our families, and future families, depend on it.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Philly Set Go