Council President Clarke and the Philadelphia Delegation of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, chaired by state Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, D-Phila., has announced their property tax relief package for Philadelphia homeowners.
“Last session, when the city began its efforts to implement the Actual Value Initiative, the General Assembly acted by delaying implementation of the plan for one year, passed legislation to include Philadelphia homeowners in the Homestead Exemption Act already afforded to all other Pennsylvania homeowners, and allowed the city to adjust school district property tax rates to prevent large, unintended tax increases for all property owners. We recognize the financial strain the new tax system may place on many city homeowners and homestead relief may not be enough,” said Parker. “Therefore, the delegation is proposing common-sense legislation in an effort to provide relief to residents as they transition to the new rates under AVI.”
“These measures are a result of an unprecedented collaborative effort between the City of Philadelphia and its state delegation. This tax relief package will provide the city with the flexibility to implement AVI in a fair and common-sense manner,” said Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke.
State Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Phila., the prime sponsor of the legislation from last session which opened the doors for this much-needed relief, voiced the support of the Philadelphia Delegation of the Pennsylvania Senate. “These reforms are not only necessary but they will become the lifeblood of the next generation in terms of how we generate revenue,” Williams said. “These are concepts that represent Philadelphia at its best and finest moment because they give thoughtful consideration for every citizen, as well as the greater good for the entire city.”
The property tax relief package is comprised of four pieces of legislation:
- Parker is introducing legislation to provide the Philadelphia with additional authority to collect delinquent property taxes. The city will be authorized to place liens on all properties under common ownership in Pennsylvania when at least one is delinquent in the taxes owed to Philadelphia. When the property owner attempts to sell any of his/her property located within the Commonwealth, the lien must be satisfied.
- Rep. Michelle Brownlee, D-Phila., is proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing two classes of properties (residential and commercial) to be taxed at different rates in Philadelphia. Currently, all property in Philadelphia is taxed at the same rate.
- Rep. Mike McGeehan, D-Phila., is recommending a bill to give Philadelphia the ability to provide eligible Philadelphia homeowners with the option to make property tax payments in periodic installments.
- Rep. Mike O’Brien, D-Phila., is offering a bill to provide relief for long-term owner-occupants by amending the First and Second County Property Tax Relief Act to afford Philadelphia the same authority to use age and financial need when considering relief for long-term owner-occupants, often referred to as gentrification relief.
“We recognize that there can be unforeseen circumstances when enacting such sweeping reform,” Brownlee said. “Because of this, we thought it prudent to offer this amendment as a resource, or tool, in the event county officials need to modify assessments as they seek an equitable tax code of our city.”
“Working together, we have come up with a plan that we firmly believe will not just solve problems in Philadelphia, but can be used as a model throughout the commonwealth,” McGeehan said. “The times change – and this is our concerted attempt to change with them. We want to place some new tools in the hands of those who desperately need them.”
“It is proper and necessary for state lawmakers to step in and provide a lifeline to homeowners who can least afford a property tax hike, some of which will be up to 300 percent. It would be a disservice to our public school children and homeowners alike to stand back and do nothing,” said O’Brien.
“With the assistance and support of Mayor Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke, we were able to create legislation that will benefit all Philadelphians and lessen their property tax burden,” said Parker.