Friday — and, yes, it is Friday the 13th — is the deadline to apply for the Homestead Exemption.
The exemption takes $30,000 off a property’s assessment for tax purposes. Owners who live in their homes who get the exemption will pay taxes on the assessed values of their properties — minus $30,000.
If your house is worth $70,000, it will still be worth $70,000, you’ll just pay taxes on a house worth $40,000. If you have the exemption, you save almost $400 in taxes.
If this is all news to you, you’re not alone, but it really is time to act fast. Call 215-686-9200 to apply for the exemption over the phone.
City staffers and local officeholders have been getting out information about this tax break for months, and it’s been reported in this and other papers for months, too. As of Aug. 30, 207,397 homeowners have applied for the exemption, according to the OPA’s Kate Dreher.
Councilman Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.) arranged for 30 volunteers to go door-to-door who reached more than 1,000 homes, said his spokesman Eric Horvath. Henon also organized an Election Day outreach in which committee people gave homestead applications to voters at polling places. The councilman also ran weeks of full- and half-page newspaper ads, mailed postcards to about 13,000 homeowners and posted content to Facebook and Twitter, Horvath said.
But it’s still likely that many, many eligible homeowners won’t take advantage of a program that could save them hundreds of dollars.
It’s amazing that there are people who still don’t know about the exemption, said City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez (D-7th dist.)
“I estimate that there will be thousands left out,” the councilwoman said in a Sept. 5 email.
She said her staffers along with 40 volunteers are trying to contact 19,000 owners in her district who have not completed their applications. The councilwoman said she also is collaborating with housing agencies to get the word out. She has bought time on Spanish-language TV to battle what could be a language barrier.
“Not sure what else we could have done to inform folks,” the councilwoman stated.
There’s another date to keep in mind: Oct. 7.
That’s the deadline for property owners to appeal their new real estate assessments with the Board of Revision of Taxes. In the spring, the city sent out 100 percent market value assessments to Philadelphia property owners. Part of this Actual Value Initiative was to allow owners who didn’t like the new assessments to ask the Office of Property Assessment for a review. That’s a step that’s new this year, and OPA got almost 50,000 requests for reviews.
The OPA is in the process of completing these reviews and should be finished by the end of this month. The reviews “are being processed at a steady pace, with some requiring additional research and, occasionally, an interior inspection,” said the OPA’s deputy chief assessment officer, Michael Piper.
More than 25,000 review decision notices have been mailed, Piper stated in a Sept. 6 email. The overwhelming majority of those notices, he said, are denials.
Anyone who doesn’t like what he or she hears from OPA can take the normal route, which is to appeal to the BRT. An owner who doesn’t expect good news from the OPA should start the appeal process now, before hearing from OPA.
Thousands could file appeals with the BRT, but, as of last week, not even 700 had, according to the board’s executive director, Carla Pagan.
And, yes, Pagan said, “That is low.”
Most of the appeals are expected to come in between Oct. 1 and 7, she said in a Sept. 5 email.
“The nature of appeal filing is ‘last minute,’ ” she said. ••