HARRISBURG – Today, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President & CEO Luke Bernstein made the following statement in response to the state House of Representatives’ recent consideration of two important business tax reform amendments:
“Pennsylvania’s business tax structure is uncompetitive. We are thrilled to see such significant bipartisan support for measures that would make Pennsylvania more competitive by reducing tax rates on businesses and encouraging private-sector investment.
“We want to thank the House for passing with strong bipartisan support measures that expedite the phasedown of Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income tax (CNI) and increase the cap on Net Operating Losses (NOLs). Just like in the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year, it is clear that Republicans and Democrats all agree that we need to make Pennsylvania more competitive by reducing tax rates on businesses and encouraging companies to invest here in the Commonwealth.
“By passing these amendments, the House is building upon past efforts to lower our excessively high business tax rate and finally remove a barrier that Pennsylvania imposes on start-up businesses through our worst-in-the-nation treatment of NOLs. Governor Shapiro has consistently stressed the importance of making PA more competitive and emphasized the importance of expediting our CNI phasedown as a way to do that. According to the U.S. Chamber, 84 percent of the companies that would benefit from these policies have 20 or fewer employees. These measures would help support businesses of all sizes, in all regions, and across all sectors of our state economy.
“However, the proposal that the House passed also includes combined reporting and other provisions, which have torpedoed meaningful tax reform for years and which the Council on State Taxation (COST) states would make Pennsylvania’s corporate net income tax one of the most punitive and aggressive in the country. Thus, this combined reporting provision would be counterproductive.
“Our state has the potential to be an economic powerhouse. We have world-class academic institutions and health care systems, abundant resources like energy and fresh water, groundbreaking innovation, and manufacturing hubs, close proximity to major population centers, and a talented workforce that is second to none. While our uncompetitive tax structure has historically held us back, pro-growth reforms on CNI and NOLs will help unleash private-sector job creation and enable us to realize this potential.
“Tax reform improvements cannot come soon enough. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently ranked Pennsylvania as the fifth worst state for business migration, and a separate analysis by the Kauffman Foundation has the Commonwealth tied for last place with West Virginia for startup growth. Pennsylvania can and must be better than this, and we need decisive action to reverse these trends.
“The PA Chamber is urging lawmakers to continue rallying around tax policy that enjoys the kind of bipartisan support we have seen for these business tax improvements and avoid any poison pills, such as combined reporting, that have historically derailed meaningful tax reform.
“While there is much work to be done, I am encouraged that once again, when lawmakers have an opportunity to vote on pro-growth tax reform to improve Pennsylvania’s business climate, these measures pass with strong bipartisan support. Passing an expedited CNI and increasing the cap on NOLs without combined reporting would set Pennsylvania on a competitive path that would rival not only other states, but other nations.”
On Monday, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved amendments to H.B. 1219 that would accelerate the current phasedown of the corporate net income (CNI) tax rate (passed 150-53) and gradually increase the proportion of net operating losses (NOL) which employers may carry forward into future years (passed 166-37) — squaring Pennsylvania’s policies with the best practices of 48 other states. The bill also contains provisions related to combined reporting, which the statewide business community broadly opposes.
This bill passed the state House in a party-line vote on Tuesday evening. It now awaits Senate action.