Editorial: Take this tax break

City res­id­ents who live in their own homes have only one month left to file for a Homestead Ex­emp­tion. What is a big mys­tery is that tens of thou­sands of homeown­ers who are eli­gible for this sig­ni­fic­ant tax break have failed to ap­ply for it.

The Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment says about 400,000 Phil­adelphia prop­erty own­ers are eli­gible for the Homestead Ex­emp­tion, which cuts $30,000 from a prop­erty’s tax as­sess­ment. A tax­pay­er whose house was as­sessed at $100,000 and had re­ceived a Homestead Ex­emp­tion would pay taxes based only on a house as­sessed at $70,000.

City Coun­cil ap­proved the tax break as the city re­vo­lu­tion­ized its prop­erty tax as­sess­ment sys­tem, as­sess­ing homes at full mar­ket value in­stead of par­tial value. To ease the pain of this ma­jor change, the coun­cil ad­op­ted the $30,000 ex­emp­tion that ap­plies only to those who own their homes and live in them. Renters and those who own prop­erty but live else­where are not eli­gible.

So far, OPA says 204,000 Homestead Ex­emp­tions have been ap­proved. The city has re­ceived more than 300,000 ap­plic­a­tions, but about 70,000 of those were du­plic­ates. With own­er-oc­cu­pied hous­ing es­tim­ated at 400,000 prop­er­ties, that leaves nearly half of those eli­gible for ex­emp­tions go­ing without them.

The dead­line for ap­ply­ing for the ex­emp­tion is Sept. 13.

City of­fi­cials have spent the sum­mer at­tend­ing civic as­so­ci­ation meet­ings and oth­er events and telling homeown­ers to ap­ply for the ex­emp­tions. They’ve taken out ads, and tried oth­er ways to get the word out.

All it takes to file for the tax break is a phone call to 215-686-9200. So, do your­self a fa­vor, and don’t delay.

With the prop­erty as­sess­ment set at $1,349 for each $100,000 of as­sessed valu­ation, a $30,000 ex­emp­tion adds up to a sig­ni­fic­ant sav­ing. ••

You can reach at lswanson@bsmphilly.com.

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