The Philadelphia delegation in the state House, including Cherelle Parker, Michelle Brownlee, Michael McGeehan and Michael O'Brien, introduced a series of bills aimed at lessening the impact on the city's forthcoming Actual Value Initiative (AVI) at a conference in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Parker said that the four bills would act in conjunction with the previously approved Homestead exemption and would serve to "address property tax reform."
"We've laid out issues that could further assist the city's residents with dealing with unintended consequences that this tax transition could have on actual residents," she said.
The four introduced bills would, if passed, attempt to do the following:
- give the city greater authority to collect overdue taxes
- authorize two classes of property (commercial and residential) in Philadelphia
- allow for tax payments to be made on an installment plan
- provide tax relief for long term property owners
Collect Overdue Taxes:
"Our department of revenue says that almost 100,000 properties in the city are tax delinquent," she said. "One in every six parcels have overdue tax bills, and according to a Pew study, Philadelphia has a higher delinquency rate than any other big city in the country."
Parker said in a release to the House that her bill would allow the city to place a lien on not just a single property, but on all the property owned by an individual within the Commonwealth. Under this bill, any property a delinquent owner attempts to sell will be stalled until they pay the lien.
"Simply putting a lien on delinquent prompters is not sufficient for payments to be made," Parker said.
Two Classes of Property:
A second bill, introduced by Bronwlee, would aim to establish two classes of properties to be taxed in the city. Under this bill, there would be a "residential" and a "commercial" property distinction when taxing land.
"As the city moves forward with the AVI, we feel it is critical to help mitigate any spike in residential property taxes where benefit would be minimal and sacrifices would be high," she said.
In a statement, Bronwlee said that there will be a substantial shift in property tax burden from commercial properties to residential properties, and the city currently has no means to prevent a shift of the tax burden from businesses to residents.
"We feel it is better to be proactive than reactive when dealing with the most vulnerable Philadelphians," she said.
Instalment Pay for Taxes:
McGeehan's bill would allow the city to "provide eligible homeowners the option to make property tax payments in period installments," according to a statement from the delegation.
"Roughly 40 percent of the city's population owns houses outright, but right now they have to pay their taxes all at once," he said. "This would allow people to pay their real estate bills in installments."
The Representative feels that periodic payments could lessen the burned on homeowners and potentially "stop the cycle of tax delinquencies."
"This sounds simple, but it is profound in the difference it'll make to Philadelphia."
Relief for the Long-Term:
The fourth introduced bill, sponsored by O'Brien, would seek to provide relief for long term property owners in the city.
"I bought my house in 1980 for $15,000," he said. "The last time it was appraised, it was $245,000, for the same house on the same block. My proposal is simple: those longtime residents who might live in gentrified neighborhoods should not be penalized for their commitment to the city."
O'Brien pointed out in a release that, while the city is authorized to provide gentrification relief under tax law, it is not allowed to use age or finical aid as a means to provide tax relief. The proposed bill would seek to amend existing tax law to provide consideration for long term owners.
All four pieces of proposed legislation will be considered by the house in the coming weeks.