House Committee Moves Philadelphia Property Tax Legislation

Three pieces of legislation, which deal with curtailing property abandonment and blight and with ensuring the collection of property taxes at fair rates to taxpayers in Philadelphia, may now be voted by the full House following unanimous passage today by the House Urban Affairs Committee, chaired by state Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York County).

“The package of legislation allows local governments to pursue prompt payment of property tax bills, in addition to enacting new parameters and options for residents that the majority of their neighbors around the Commonwealth enjoy when it comes to determining and paying what they owe,” Gillespie said.

Philadelphia has moved to the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), which assesses properties at their full market value. AVI is changing the certified market value of property and the way individual assessments are used to calculate taxes owed.  Although the AVI system is expected to be much more accurate and fair, many longtime Philadelphia residents are seeing extreme spikes in their property taxes.

The three bills, offered by three Philadelphia-area Democrats, are as follows:

  • House Bill 388 (Rep. Cherelle Parker) – Would allow liens to be placed against all real estate owned by individuals who fail to pay their delinquent property taxes. The bill was amended in committee to make a tax claim that has been reduced to judgment enforceable as a judgment lien, but only against real property.
  • House Bill 390 (Rep. Michael O’Brien) – Would allow the City of Philadelphia to use age and financial means when considering property tax relief for longtime owner-occupants. Pittsburgh already uses this means-based provision.
  • House Bill 391 (Rep. Mike McGeehan) –Would authorize the city of Philadelphia to collect real estate taxes through periodic installment payments, determine who will be eligible for the program and how often the installments will be collected.

Advocates believe the legislation will help make sure taxes are paid without placing significant hardship on resident property owners. The bills are also viewed as measures to help Philadelphia and all local governments address abandonment and blight.

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