Philadelphia looking to collect obscure tax to help schools

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 Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is shown in City Council chambers. (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks, file)

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is shown in City Council chambers. (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks, file)

Philadelphia City Council is investigating ways to do a better job of collecting a virtually unknown tax. 

The School Income Tax collects nearly 4 percent on unearned income from Philadelphia residents — for example stock dividends, casino winnings and rental income.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown says it brings in nearly $28 million a year but $5 million goes uncollected.

“Given the fact that we have had to tax citizens three consecutive years, we need to I think investigate, identify and exhaust all other potential or real revenue streams, this being one,” Reynolds Brown said.

Revenue Commissioner Clarena Tolson says her department is working to publicize it.

“It may be a case that many people did not know that they owe the tax or what the tax is and I’m sure that many if they did know they would contribute,” Tolson said.

If people don’t pay the tax after a gentle reminder, Tolson said her department could impose penalties or liens to collect the money.

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