December 30, 2014 |
It's odd what people recall, but Jeff Westphal, 53, remembers staring at a chopping block in his kitchen when an insight hit him with such force that he changed his entire approach to business. Westphal, chief executive of his family-owned, 900-employee tax software company, Vertex Inc., had come home on a Friday 18 years ago, enthusiastic about taking his family - including three kids, then all under age 6, on an impromptu family camping weekend. His wife objected. Casting her as a stick-in-the-mud, he began his usual approach - a mix of convincing and cajoling.
September 30, 2014
THERE WAS celebration locally last week when Gov. Corbett signed the bill allowing Philadelphia to increase the tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack. Mayor Nutter praised the governor and the Legislature for finally taking action. Schools Superintendent William Hite added his thanks. No one did high-fives, but there was a sense of satisfaction over a mission accomplished. The situation reminds us of the title of the 1960s novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me . The cigarette tax - which will raise the price of a pack by 30 percent - will provide a source of continuing revenue for the financially battered school district.
August 14, 2014
RONNIE Polaneczky's recent column on our ongoing fight to help Philadelphia does little to help those of us fighting to give Philadelphia schools the tools needed to open on time. Instead of enlightening readers on the difficulties we face in educating Philadelphia's 200,000 students, Polaneczky chose to attack the wife of House Majority Leader Mike Turzai as part of an overall assault on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as we worked to pass enabling legislation for Philadelphia City Council to levy a $2-per-pack cigarette tax to help fund our city's schools.
July 31, 2014
CONGRESS could soon face an unpleasant task if it wants to extend a law that bans state and local governments from taxing residents to browse the Web. The current law, last renewed in 2007, expires Nov. 1, days before midterm elections. If the law isn't renewed, broadband users would see connection fees similar to those appearing on monthly cellphone bills. So what's Congress doing about all this? The House passed a bill July 15 to permanently ban any Internet-access taxes. But when the bill got to the Senate, things soon got very interesting.
July 12, 2014
ISSUE | PA. BUDGET Bad tax habits An additional $2 tax per pack of cigarettes would be a huge mistake ("Endless summer," July 10). Such a tax would add more than $700 a year for a one-pack-a-day smoker. Yes, it would encourage some smokers to quit or reduce their habit. But most would suck it up; such is the addictive grip of smoking. Instead of enacting a more fair and equitable increase in the income tax, or even the sales tax, the smoking tax also would be highly regressive.
July 11, 2014 |
THE MARLBORO Man and Joe Camel helped push into legislative limbo a new $2-per-pack tobacco tax in Philly that would help to fund the city's public schools. Harrisburg lobbyists for the nation's largest cigarette company, the Altria Group - maker of the Marlboro, Parliament and Virginia Slims brands - initially had opposed the tax altogether. A lobbyist for the nation's second-largest cigarette company, R.J. Reynolds - maker of Camel, Pall Mall and Kool brands - also was involved in the effort.
July 8, 2014
AFTER THE Legislature passed a bill last week giving Philadelphia the right to impose a $2-a-pack cigarette tax to raise money for the city's schools, Gov. Corbett took a moment to congratulate himself. "We have worked for over a year, above the partisan politics, to put the students of Philadelphia first," Corbett told reporters. We don't know whether to laugh or to cry. In fairness, we don't know exactly what the governor means by putting the students of Philadelphia first.
July 3, 2014
IN 1993, Bill Clinton was president, "Seinfeld" was on TV and a cellphone was the size of a brick. It was also the last time that Congress raised the federal gasoline tax, which pays for roads, bridges and public transit. Over two decades, the cost of building and maintaining the nation's transportation infrastructure has gone up significantly, while the tax designed to fund the work has stayed flat: Drivers still pay 18.4 cents per gallon at the pump for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel.
June 19, 2014
THE ILLUSTRATED graphic that the School District of Philadelphia is distributing, which depicts in simple terms what will happen without additional money, is ingeniously simple - and a mark of how desperate the district truly must be. The drawings are what you might find in a book for fourth-graders - simple, yet perhaps right on the mark in terms of addressing the comprehension levels of its audience, which is lawmakers at both the city and state...
June 12, 2014
J ONATHAN BARSADE, 52, of Wynnewood, is founder and CEO of Exactor, an online provider of tax-compliance solutions for firms that do business in multiple states. Barsade, a former tax lawyer, started Exactor in 2006. He invested more than $1 million to get the business running. Exactor has 25 employees, mostly in Philly and Miami, and 5,000 clients. Q: How did you come up with the idea for Exactor? A: My background is as a tax attorney and I published a lot about the borderless environment the Internet was creating and e-commerce was still nascent.