Philly taking big bite out of unpaid property taxes

Vacant lots on the 2100 block of North 9th Street in Philadelphia, near Temple University. Eighty percent of the block's properties were tax-delinquent. (Jared Brey/PlanPhilly)

Vacant lots on the 2100 block of North 9th Street in Philadelphia, near Temple University. Eighty percent of the block's properties were tax-delinquent. (Jared Brey/PlanPhilly)

Philadelphia is doing better when it comes to collecting delinquent taxes.

Revenue Commissioner Frank Breslin said officials have reduced the total taxes owed to the city by at least one third.

“Over the last year, 9,000 properties were removed from the delinquent rolls,” he said. “Over the last four years, the delinquent taxes owed to the city have been reduced by 31 percent.”

Collectors are using different tactics depending on the circumstances, including offering payment plans tailored to individual incomes.

“We have ways for them to come into compliance, payment agreements that are affordable,” he said.  “For those who are unwilling to pay — not unable to pay — we we are going to use our most aggressive techniques such as sheriff’s sales and receivership.”

City Council is debating a bill that would give low-income homeowners the ability to defer paying their taxes until their property is sold.

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