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Philadelphia a Bargain? Local Tax Study Says... Maybe

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A new study released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Philadelphia is becoming more competitive in terms of local taxes when compared to the suburbs.

The study compared Philadelphia against 236 suburban communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and concluded, hypothetically, that middle-income Philadelphia residents are doing better in terms of their tax burden than many of their suburban counterparts.

"Philadelphians still bear a heavier tax burden than do their peers in most of the suburbs," says Thomas Ginsberg, project manager for the Philadelphia Research Initiative, "but Philadelphia is now more competitive with the suburbs on taxes -- now ranked 48th heaviest tax burden, compared to third heaviest in 2000."

He says researchers found that suburbanites who work in the city pay more in overall taxes than do those who live and work in Philadelphia, with suburban Darby (Delaware County), Pa. residents believed to be paying the highest overall taxes.

Ginsberg concedes the study didn't factor in the city's plans to overhaul the current property tax system (see related story), the schools crisis (see related story), or the economic downturn and its effect on property values.

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