Pennsylvania offers businesses a huge selection of economic development subsidies: tax breaks, grants, loans, loan guarantees, and bond financing. Most are administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). Cities offer an assortment of property tax abatements for different types of construction projects. Multiple state and local incentives are often bundled to lure large companies to the state.
Between the DCED’s online library of documents and reports, the “Investment Tracker” database of subsidies, and the State Treasury’s repository of contracts, recipient disclosures are ample except for the costliest program, Keystone Opportunity Zones, and its offshoots. Recipients of the Research and Development Tax Credit are disclosed separately by the Department of Revenue with a minimum amount of information.
The Office of the Budget prepares the Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports (ACFRs) which have the costs of major tax abatement programs (the exception is the Research and Development Tax Credit, the cost of which is reported in the revenue department’s publications). Pennsylvania’s localities generally report tax abatements in accordance with Statement No. 77. Notably, the School District of Philadelphia ranks the highest in the country in foregone revenue.
The Independent Fiscal Office was created in 2010 to analyze revenue and budget and charged in 2017 with evaluating Pennsylvania’s tax credit programs on a five-year rotating cycle. The auditor general has reviewed some of DCED’s grants and loans, but the Keystone Opportunity Zone program has not been evaluated since 2009.