Philly homeowners running out of time to apply for tax break

 (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

(Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

One day before the official deadline, tens of thousands of residents thought to be eligible for Philadelphia’s homestead exemption still have not signed up for the tax break.

Philadelphia created the tax break for homeowners to soften the blow of a citywide property reassessment that went into effect this year. It can save eligible homeowners up to $400 annually on their property-tax bill.

The city government advertised the homestead exemption in public areas and through direct mail. But Kathryn Dreher of Philadelphia’s Office of Property Assessment said some people have remained unaware of unsure of the tax break.

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“Sometimes when the messaging comes from the city, I think maybe people think it’s not real or that it’s actually something they’ll have to pay back, which isn’t true,” she said. “We are encouraging anyone who thinks they’re eligible to contact the hotline.”

The phone number for Philadelphia’s homestead exemption hotline, where officials say homeowners can apply for the tax break in any language, is 215-686-9200.

City officials estimate 300,000 homeowners could be eligible for the homestead exemption, but only 217,000 have registered.

Despite the lagging participation rates, Dreher said the city is not currently planning to extend the Sept. 13 deadline.

However, she said, the city will accept applications until Dec. 1, 2014, with no guarantee of having the tax break apply to next year’s bill. Those residents who apply between the official deadline and Dec. 1 will, at the very least, receive a future tax credit.

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