A 21st Century Tax Code for Philadelphia

As Mayor, Derek Green supports pragmatic, inclusive tax reforms to make Philadelphia a more attractive and competitive big city. From his time as a small business lender to small business owner, he has learned that City Hall must partner with companies to make doing business easier in Philadelphia – this City needs a tax structure that tells companies: Philadelphia is “open for business.” As City Council’s Finance Chair, he began doing so by authoring and passing the Green Plan, which reduced the wage and business taxes to their lowest levels in decades. He has also introduced legislation on property tax reform that would authorize land value taxation, generating more revenue from vacant-lot land owners. And as Mayor, Derek Green will instruct the Revenue Department to aggressively go after sales taxes that are not being collected. To aid these efforts, he will add staff, modernize infrastructure, and work with the private sector to make it easier to pay taxes and make the City more effective in collecting revenue. 

In order to implement these types of reforms, the City needs true leadership. Leadership that was displayed when Derek Green brought independently elected officials together to reduce Wage (resident & non resident) taxes, the Net Income portion of Business Income & Receipts Taxes (BIRT), and the Real Estate tax (via Homestead Exemption increase), while making additional investments for public safety and quality of life improvements and providing a healthy general fund balance. His collaborative approach to getting the Green Plan adopted into the City’s budget is the same strategy that he will use to continue tax reductions over the five-year plan and throughout his Administration.


Tax Reform Principles of a Green Administration

  • Philadelphia has not done enough via tax policy to support local businesses in creating family-sustaining jobs.
  • If we want to be a competitive big city in comparison to other metropolitan areas, we need to support small businesses – particularly minority-owned businesses – in staying afloat.
  • A reformed, modernized tax code is necessary for high-growth cities.
  • Tax reform is a tangible way of delivering for Philadelphians.
  • Ending the cycle of poverty means direct payment to those who need it. And this puts money directly back into pockets


Figure 1: A financial summary of the Green Plan, which helped to pass the FY23 City budget.


Green Plan

  • Reduced BIRT to 5.99%, the lowest rate since 1988.
    • BIRT taxes both income and profits, as a result of outdated tax policy originating from the industrial era of Philadelphia.
    • It is particularly harmful to small-margin businesses. Reducing BIRT is a direct investment in minority-owned businesses. That is why this plan was supported by the Diverse Chambers of Commerce (i.e., African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Independence Business Alliance).
    • This is part of an effort to support minority-owned, and particularly Black-owned, small businesses.
    • Comes from a place of experience – Green started his own small business with his wife, and knows firsthand the difficulty of maintaining and operating a payroll.
  • Reduced wage tax (Philadelphia’s is one of the highest in the nation) by 0.0498%.
    • This is not a tax cut for the ultra-wealthy. Philadelphia only has three Fortune 500 companies operating within the City; we are a city of small businesses and this cut was to support them.

Land Value Tax

  • Introduced legislation to shift property tax to land value taxation.
  • A “split-rate” property tax with a higher tax rate for land puts less pressure on the wage tax to increase revenue, particularly in the wake of remote work taking people out of the City’s limits.
  • Increases the rate paid by owners of vacant lots, industrial properties, and non-taxed buildings while reducing the share paid by residential and commercial property owners.

Sales Tax

  • A Green Administration will beef up and modernize our City’s Revenue Department to make it easier to pay taxes and more effective to collect revenue.
  • Instruct the Revenue Department to aggressively go after sales taxes that are not being collected.
Derek S. Green, Esquire is running for mayor because too often Philadelphians are told they have to choose between Public Safety or Criminal Justice Reform; Reducing Taxes or Providing City Services; or New Development or Affordable Housing.
As a member of the City Council, Green represented the whole city and refused to choose. He authored the Green Plan that cut taxes for small businesses and residents to the lowest they have been in decades while increasing funding for more police officers and public safety. A lot of candidates talk about it, but as a Councilmember, Derek Green helped do it. As mayor, we will work to give Philadelphians the city they expect and deserve!
Prior to running for mayor, Green won the 2015 Democratic primary for City Council At-Large in Philadelphia by receiving the highest number of votes cast in the election and, later that year, he was elected as a member of City Council. In 2019, he was elected for another term. On September 6, 2022, Green resigned from City Council to run for Mayor of Philadelphia.

As a member of the City Council, Green held leadership roles as Chair of the Finance and Disabilities Committees, and as Vice Chair of the Aging and Law & Government Committees. Green has served as Chair of the Philadelphia Gas Commission, President of the Democratic Municipal Officials, and President of the Pennsylvania Municipal League. Additionally, he has served on the boards of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, the City Trusts, Girard College, and Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. Further, he has been on the executive committees of the Democratic National Committee and National League of Cities.

Before being elected to the City Council, Green served as Special Counsel to Councilmember Marian B. Tasco. In this capacity, he played a central role in drafting legislation, setting the stage for his own productive tenure on the Council. During this time, he also served as counsel to the Philadelphia Gas Commission and the Finance, Public Health, Human Services Committees.

Prior to working in City Council, Green served as a Deputy City Solicitor in the Housing and Community Development Division of the corporate group of the City’s law department. As Deputy City Solicitor, he represented the Offices of Housing and Community Development, Neighborhood Transformation Initiatives, the Commerce Department, and the Vacant Property Review Committee. Green played a preeminent role in annually drafting, negotiating, and reviewing over $100 million in housing and economic development contracts funded by the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Green’s legal experience includes positions as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia and Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the State of Delaware (Securities and Criminal Divisions). He is admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and State of New Jersey. He is also a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Temple University Beasley School of Law. He has received honors such as the Pennsylvania Law Weekly’s “Lawyer on the Fast Track,” Cheyney University’s President’s Outstanding Community Leader Award, the Community College of Philadelphia’s Distinguished Leadership Award, the Democratic Municipal Officials’ President’s Award, the Urban Education Fund’s Gimper Award for Outstanding Service, Bensalem High School’s first Distinguished Alumni Award, as a key regional connector and leader by Leadership Philadelphia, one of Metro Philadelphia’s 6 new young political leaders, one of the Philadelphia Daily News’ 10 under 40 rising political stars, and City and State PA named him to their Philly Power 100 list. In 2018, he was selected as NewDEAL Leader.

Before becoming an attorney, Green was a consumer and small business lender for Meridian Bank. He also served in a leadership capacity in a number of civic and professional organizations including President of the Center in the Park, Inc. and East Mount Airy Neighbors, Inc. (“EMAN”), First Vice President of the Germantown YMCA, Vice President of Young America Political Action Committee, Co-Vice Chair of the PA Bar Assoc.’s Legal Services to the Public Committee. Further, he served as a Board Director for the Green Tree School, Mt. Airy USA CDC, Urban League of Philadelphia, West Oak Lane Charter School, West Philadelphia YMCA, and served as pro bono counsel for the Family Life Centers of Canaan Baptist Church and Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown.

Green and his wife, Sheila, co-founded the first Autism Support Class at Houston Elementary School to help other Autistic children like their son, Julian. To aid other families affected by Autism, they are a top regional fundraiser for Autism Speaks.

I can’t wait to see you in person soon and tell you more about my plans.


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