Is the city inching closer toward fixing its broken property tax system?
Mayor Nutter met with some City Council members behind closed doors Tuesday to share preliminary data related to his planned shift to a property-tax system based on market values, also known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) –which showed that the total value of the city’s properties is at least roughly $96 billion, according to sources.
That’s more than the $80 billion a Council consultant estimated and much higher than the current total value for taxable properties which is $38 billion.
“The important issue is that we are very, very close to fixing the property assessment system for the city of Philadelphia and we will be able to give property owners a fair accurate and equitable and understandable assessment notice,” Nutter told reporters after the meeting.
Sources said the administration is looking at a 1.3 percent tax rate without a homestead exemption or a 1.4 percent tax rate with a $30,000 homestead exemption. But that rate could change if Council tacks on additional protections.
“I’m not going to 1.4 percent,” said Councilman Jim Kenney. “This was intended to be revenue neutral.”
In June Council decided to delay AVI for a year because members were concerned about approving it before assessments were done and without actual data. If the city moves to AVI, some property owners will see their tax bills drop, while others especially in gentrifying neighborhoods will see huge increases.
Detailed information on how the changes will impact neighborhoods, residential versus commercial properties and more is expected in the coming weeks. Reassessments will be mailed out to property owners in February.
Kevin Gillen, research consultant with the University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute said getting “assessments correct and uniform is noteworthy,” but the city should also examine broader tax reforms including shifting more of the tax burden toward property taxes and less on wages and businesses.