Big tax bill coming for Phila. property owners

PHILADELPHIA - November 19, 2010

Those bills will reflect a nearly 10% tax hike approved by city council and the mayor last spring to close the deficit. The exact figure is 9.9%.

"I love living in the city, so it's like 'What can you do?'" said Barbara Beck of Society Hill.

"It's necessary, I think. The economy is in a bad shape, a lot of programs are going to be hurting and it has to come from somewhere," said Gina Brower of Fishtown.

Real estate experts say the tax hike will hurt the city in its rivalry with the suburbs.

"Philadelphia has a higher tax base than most of the surrounding counties so to the extent that we increase that it just increases the margins from the suburbs and the City of Philadelphia," said developer Ron Cariola. "It would almost be a penalty for businesses to come into the City of Philadelphia.

Tax bills will be going out to more than a half-million residential and commercial property owners. However, there will be an opportunity to set up a payment plan for those who have hardship.

For seniors 65 and older, the tax rate will remain frozen at the current level.

"With this economy right now we recognize that there are some individuals who may need to set up some kind of payment plan because they fell behind in their bills. So, we recognize that and we are a will to work with the taxpayers in the city," said Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson. "If you don't want to pay the payments or reach out to us, eventually you will get a lien on your property from the City of Philadelphia and we'll expedite a sheriff sale."

One woman, however, was not sure from where she would get the money.

"I'll send them what I can. It's all I can do," said Linda Taylor of West Philadelphia. "I'm unemployed right now so it's really tough."

The tax hike is expected to bring in more than $90-million for the cash-strapped city.

March 31st is the final deadline for payment in full without an installment plan. Penalty interest starts to accrue on April 1st.

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