Northeast Times

Deadline for Homestead Exemption is Friday

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. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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