Nutter swears to crack down on delinquent taxpayers

Posted: February 06, 2013

HIGH-TECH databases, collection agencies, call centers, new legislation and some saucy tough talk.

That's Mayor Nutter's plan for cracking down on tax deadbeats in Philadelphia, where property taxes go uncollected at a higher rate than in any other major U.S. city.

"Now there are some other trifling, raggedy people around here who can actually pay, who don't pay," Nutter said Monday at a news conference. "We're going to chase their little asses down as hard as possible."

The mayor announced that his administration is investing $40 million, hiring 55 employees and developing computer systems to get on top of the half-billion dollars owed to the city by delinquent property owners, many of whom haven't paid up in years.

He's also continuing the city's push for legislation in Harrisburg that will aid the crackdown.

The administration hopes its strategy will result in $260 million in new revenue by 2018.

Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson said his department hasn't had an information-technology update, also planned by the administration, since 1993.

With a shift to a new property-tax system known as the Actual Value Initiative, or AVI, on the horizon, City Council members like freshman Bobby Henon, who has worked to find deadbeats in his district, have questioned the city's efforts.

"I receive complaints all of the time about [delinquents]," said Henon, who plans to introduce legislation on the issue this week. "As we're going to AVI, [Philadelphians] are going to want to know we're being efficient in collecting taxes."

City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who has published reports detailing the city's collection failures, cautioned that although Monday's announcement was encouraging, the city has made similar pledges before.

"Forty million dollars is a substantial investment. That's an indication of seriousness," he said. "It's about time."

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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