How to protect yourself from property tax bill hikes

City Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell L. Clarke is ur­ging long­time own­er-oc­cu­pants to check their eli­gib­il­ity and ap­ply for re­lief de­signed to pro­tect them against prop­erty tax bill hikes driv­en by dra­mat­ic in­creases in sur­round­ing prop­erty val­ues.

Com­monly known as Gentri­fic­a­tion Re­lief, this tax as­sist­ance will be tar­geted to seni­or cit­izens and to homeown­ers in fin­an­cial need. House Bill 390 was in­tro­duced by Rep. Mike O’Bri­en, D-Phila., in Janu­ary and signed in­to law by Gov. Tom Corbett on Nov. 27.

ldquo;I would like to thank the en­tire Phil­adelphia del­eg­a­tion for shep­herd­ing the Gentri­fic­a­tion Re­lief bill through the le­gis­lat­ive pro­cess in Har­ris­burg and Gov. Corbett for sign­ing it in­to law,” Clarke said. “I urge qual­i­fy­ing Phil­adelphia homeown­ers to take ad­vant­age of this pro­gram and to con­tact their Coun­cil rep­res­ent­at­ives and the Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment for more in­form­a­tion.”

Last month, Clarke in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion that would ex­tend the dead­line for Gentri­fic­a­tion Re­lief ap­plic­a­tions from Jan. 15, 2014, to Feb. 17, 2014. Coun­cil is ex­pec­ted to give fi­nal ap­prov­al to Bill No. 130854 by the end of the year.

“I have been con­cerned that long­time res­id­ents in re­vital­ized neigh­bor­hoods could be taxed out of their homes un­der the Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive,” Rep. O’Bri­en said. “This re­lief pro­gram is an im­port­ant step to­ward full tax fair­ness in Phil­adelphia.”

Also last Wed­nes­day, Gov. Corbett signed le­gis­la­tion in­tro­duced by Rep. Cher­elle Park­er, lead­er of the Phil­adelphia del­eg­a­tion, that would en­able the city to li­en prop­er­ties un­der com­mon own­er­ship any­where in Pennsylvania when one prop­erty is de­lin­quent in Phil­adelphia. This ad­di­tion­al au­thor­ity would en­able Phil­adelphia to col­lect de­lin­quent taxes more ef­fect­ively from prop­erty own­ers who reside or own prop­er­ties else­where in the com­mon­wealth, and is es­tim­ated to raise an ad­di­tion­al $30 mil­lion in rev­en­ue an­nu­ally. ••

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