January 13, 2014 |
After two winters that were virtually holidays from ice, winter has returned with an expensive vengeance for the region's road departments. With the typical peak snow period still a few weeks away, the region already has had nearly a season's worth of snowfall - spiced with generous portions of ice - and the plowing and salting bills are piling up faster than the pothole complaints. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has spent more than two-thirds of its total seasonal snow-fighting budget, and the New Jersey Department has shelled out more than twice what it did during the entire winter of 2011-12.
January 11, 2014 |
On Amber Street in East Kensington, developers PostGreen and Equinox Management & Construction are preparing to break ground on a new apartment building with a very unusual feature: a unit reserved for short-term rental via Airbnb.com, the largely unregulated online marketplace that helps people turn their homes into hotels. Even more unusual: The developers declared that intention when they applied for the building permit, making theirs perhaps the first strictly by-the-book Airbnb unit in Philadelphia.
January 10, 2014
THERE'S A tax break for struggling homeowners that Congress shouldn't have let expire just before the new year. If not extended, some people selling their homes could get big tax bills. As the housing crisis in the middle of the last decade drove people into foreclosure, many borrowers were not aware that forgiven debt, including on mortgages, is considered income. In 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act to help people who were down on their luck financially because of the loss of their homes.
January 6, 2014 |
IF YOU'RE a Philly homeowner who contested the city's valuation of your property this year, listen up. A lot has changed with how the city handles property-tax appeals, and it's led to some confusion. Here's a People Paper Q&A to sort it out: Q: Why did my property get reassessed in the first place? A: The Actual Value Initiative, a property-tax-reform effort led by Mayor Nutter, began this year, and the administration reassessed all 579,000 taxable properties. Q: What happened to my appeal of the new assessment?
January 4, 2014 |
The authority that oversees the city's finances plans to have a greater say in the coming years on Philadelphia's most vexing challenges. The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) said in its annual report, released this week, that it would seek to publish a series of studies on issues such as the underfunded pension system and tax enforcement, and hold forums to publicize the findings. In the process, PICA would "broaden its oversight" to discussions of whether the city's financial planning is adequately addressing those concerns.
December 31, 2013 |
In his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama called for higher taxes on wealthier Americans to pay for programs that benefit people with less. In his second campaign, President Obama acknowledged the role those same successful people play in hiring, investing, and creating scarce jobs. Which Obama got to ram his program through Congress and the Internal Revenue Service? The 2013 tax season will bring some significant hikes over last year's rates for many people with six-figure incomes, notes Bill Burns , managing partner for tax services at BDO 's Philadelphia office.
December 31, 2013 |
ATLANTIC CITY - Shock did not exactly resonate here when word got out that the Atlantic Club would shut its doors for good next month. The city resort's struggles have been well-documented with the advent of regional gambling competition in Pennsylvania and New York since 2006. But with the Atlantic Club's closing, the city will be left with 11 casinos and stripped of a key tax ratable when it is already borrowing millions of dollars to pay refunds on casino property-tax appeals because of strained gaming revenue.
December 26, 2013 |
Upper Gwynedd's Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a budget with the township's first property tax increase in 23 years. In 2014, the general fund millage will go from 0.874 to 1.874, raising the average municipal tax bill to $266. That does not include taxes for fire, water and sewer services, or the school district. The commissioners also raised the sewer tax rate 15 percent. The board called the increases "unavoidable" and said the township had already conducted "an exhaustive line item review resulting in significant budgetary cuts.
December 26, 2013
Always next year The current Congress finished its first year as the least productive and possibly least popular in history. Nowhere were the costs clearer than in lawmakers' failure to reform our broken, inhumane immigration system ("From hope to anger on immigration reform," Dec. 15). But while gridlock reigned in Washington, the movement for immigration reform grew stronger here in Pennsylvania and across the country. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants took days off work and put themselves at risk to fight for an end to cruel deportations that remove parents from children, for equal protection under labor laws, and for reform that promotes family unity and provides a pathway to citizenship.
December 26, 2013 |
Since opening nearly seven years ago, Harrah's Philadelphia Casino in Chester has had a financial leg up on other gambling halls in the state. Harrah's was built in a Keystone Opportunity Zone, which means it hasn't had to pay most state and local taxes. The goal of the tax-relief program is to spur development in blighted areas. But those lucrative benefits end Dec. 31. So how much additional money will Harrah's - it already turns over more than $10 million of its annual winnings to Chester City under state law - start kicking in to help the city and the financially beleaguered Chester-Upland School District?