Property tax overhaul closer to reality in Philadelphia

Pennsylvania’s legislature has approved a bill that would help Philadelphia use current market values for calculating property taxes. The ball is now back in City Council’s court. 

The Pennsylvania Legislature approved the bill to allow Philadelphia to lower its property tax rate. The rate needs to go down once more current assessments kick in, or property owners would see bills skyrocket.

Councilman Curtis Jones says the approval from Harrisburg is key to moving forward.

“This cuts different ways in different districts and so hopefully we will be able to find the consensus that gets us the nine votes that we need,” said Jones.

Neighborhoods that have been undervalued for years will see tax increases under the plan. Others, and many commercial properties that have been assessed closer to market values will see tax cuts. Councilman Mark Squilla fought to put the property tax overhaul on hold for a year. He says he doesn’t want homeowner bills to go up while business property taxes go down.

“So that’s why it’s important to have state-enabling legislation that will enable us to tax business and industrial differently than residential,” said Squilla.

Mayor Michael Nutter says the new, market-based assessments, known as the Actual Value Initiative, are almost done.

“We expect that values will be available in December, and we will share those, and we expect property owners will get a notice in the mail in February of the new values using AVI. We also expect to use those new values in constructing the FY ’14 budget,” said Nutter.

It’s likely property owners won’t know how much they will owe under the new system until Philadelphia finalizes its budget in June.

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