Northeast Times

BRT asking 2,000 residents to consider dropping appeals

On Monday, Chris Ar­tur got a let­ter from the Board of Re­vi­sion of Taxes that made him laugh.

In the let­ter, the May­fair Re­altor was asked if he knew the taxes on a house he owns on the 2700 block of Stevens Street likely will go down $40 in 2014. 

What’s so funny about that?

Ar­tur, an out­spoken crit­ic of the city­wide real es­tate as­sess­ment com­pleted this year, is ap­peal­ing the new mar­ket value as­signed to that prop­erty. What promp­ted Ar­tur’s Monday-morn­ing chuck­ling was that the let­ter asked him if he still wants to have his ap­peal of that as­sess­ment heard by the BRT, or if he’d like to with­draw it.

Funny, he thought, why would he? 

Ar­tur be­lieves his prop­erty’s value is about $20,000 less than the $101,500 the city’s Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment says it’s worth. If the BRT agrees with him, his taxes will go down more than $250. 

The arith­met­ic isn’t all that jolly, but it is easy. Mul­tiply $20,000 by the city’s 2014 real es­tate tax rate of 1.34 per­cent (20,000 X 0.0134) and you get $268. If Ar­tur loses, his taxes still will be $40 less than they were this year, so he really has noth­ing to lose by con­tinu­ing to ap­peal. 

Be­sides, Ar­tur said, “it’s nev­er been about tax rate; it’s about value.” The lower the value, the lower the ac­tu­al taxes will be. Ar­tur ex­pects any de­crease people see in their 2014 taxes will be erased if the city raises its rate in 2015.

The point of the BRT’s let­ter, however, was to try to erase at least 500 of the 22,894 as­sess­ment ap­peals the agency re­ceived this year.

“We sent out 2,000 of those let­ters,” BRT’s ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or Carla Pa­gan said in a Dec. 2 email to the North­east Times. “I’d be happy if 25 per­cent came back as ‘with­drawn.’ ”

Many people filed their ap­peals “not know­ing or un­der­stand­ing how to ap­ply the new tax rate,” she said. 

Still, many res­id­en­tial ac­counts are be­ing re­duced, Pa­gan ad­ded. “And a lot of those people ap­pealed ‘just be­cause.’ Some tax bills are go­ing down, but the mar­ket value is still in­cor­rect. We ex­pect those homeown­ers to keep their ap­peals open. They should in­sist on get­ting the value right.” ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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