Harrisburg moves on Philly tax bills - finally

Posted: November 22, 2013

AFTER MONTHS of delay, lawmakers in Harrisburg are finally proceeding with three bills that could improve tax collections in Philadelphia and aid the city's transition to a new property-assessment system.

The first bill, which is on its way to Gov. Corbett's desk, would allow the city to place liens on any property in the state that is owned by someone who owes Philly money. Now, the city can only put liens on land in Philly.

Also approved by the Senate yesterday was a bill that would allow residents to pay taxes in monthly installments, rather than a lump sum - another method for boosting collections. That measure was amended and needs House approval.

Both of those bills are expected to help the city crack down on tax deadbeats, who collectively owe more than a half-billion dollars. And that's good news for Mayor Nutter's administration, which was criticized yesterday by City Controller Alan Butkovitz for not doing enough to crack down on deadbeats.

Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said the issue is "one of our central concerns" and noted that the mayor this year created a chief collections officer position to tackle the problem.

On Tuesday, lawmakers approved a bill that would enable Philadelphia to use means testing for its "gentrification relief" program, which would give tax breaks to longtime residents who are seeing big hikes in their taxes this year under the city's Actual Value Initiative.

Left in the dust was a proposal to allow cities to set different property-tax rates for commercial and residential properties. That would require an amendment to the state constitution and did not make it out of committee.


On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout

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