Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson speaks at council session.


In Council News, Kenyatta Johnson, News by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA (JANUARY 24, 2020) — Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) reintroduced a bill yesterday during the new Philadelphia City Council term to provide property tax relief 220,000 homeowners citywide.

City Council approved an identical bill by a 17-0 vote last year, as introduced by Johnson on behalf of City Council President Darrell Clarke (5th District). that would increase the city’s existing Homestead Exemption for homeowners by an additional $5,000, raising it from $45,000 to $50,000.  President Clarke remains a co-sponsor of the new Homestead Exemption bill.

“During this new Council term, I will continue the fight for property tax relief for all Philadelphians, including expansions of the Homestead Exemption and the Longtime Owner-Occupants Program (LOOP),” Johnson said.  “Philadelphians need tax relief because spikes in property assessments have supersized tax bills in many neighborhoods. Yet, working families aren’t getting pay raises and most seniors are on fixed incomes. Too many homeowners have to choose between paying tax bills and paying for groceries or medication.”

“We know that Homestead and LOOP work. They have high participation rates and help families across the city, “Johnson continued. “Most LOOP enrollees are senior citizens who bought their homes decades ago, at low point in the market. But LOOP has helped save those households from displacement, according a 2017 study the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.”

In December, Council unanimously approved bill number 190943 to raise the Homestead Exemption from $45,000 up to $50,000. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney didn’t sign the bill into law, saying he supported it but wanted to delay the discussion as part of the upcoming Fiscal Year budget discussion.

“I respect Mayor Kenney’s decision, but I am reopening discussions right away by reintroducing the Homestead legislation,” Johnson said. “If approved, my bill would help 220,000 homeowners citywide and cost the City of Philadelphia approximately $15 million per year. I think we can find the money with our current City of Philadelphia budget fund balance north of $300 million. It’s the right thing to do.”

The Homestead Exemption reduces the taxable portion of your property assessment by $45,000, starting with 2020 property tax bills, if a person owns a home in Philadelphia and uses it as a primary residence.

If Councilman Johnson’s legislation is approved by the full Council, it would raise the amount that homeowners would save to more than $700 a year.
Johnson’s Homestead Exemption bill will now be assigned to a committee for a public hearing.
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