105,000 Philly residents miss out on tax break by failing to apply

    More than 100,000 Philadelphia homeowners who qualify for a big tax break did not receive it.

    City lawmakers approved the “homestead exemption” last year to ease the pain of a citywide property reassessment. The tax break trims $30,000 from an owner’s assessment, which is used to calculate property-tax bills.

    Newly released data show that 104,691 homeowners, or about 30 percent of those estimated to be eligible for the homestead exemption, did not register by the deadline this year.

    Michael Piper, the city’s acting chief assessment officer, said it was not for a lack of publicizing the tax break.

    “We sent something out in the original assessment notices. Communication went out in tax bills. I believe it went out in the water bill at one point. We’ve had documents translated to various languages,” he said. “A lot of effort went into this.”

    Piper said some people may have thought the notices were tax bills and accidentally tossed them out.

    The city also released data this week, which was first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News, showing that 54 percent of residential properties saw a tax hike this year under the reassessment.

    That figure would be lower, however, if more people had taken advantage of the homestead exemption. Applications for next year’s homestead exemptions are due Sept. 13.

    Philadelphia spent several years reassessing every property in the city, one of Mayor Michael Nutter’s top priorities, in order to fix the wildly inaccurate values that had been used to compute tax bills.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal