As the city began mailing out its assessments of every plot of taxable land in the city on Friday - a major step in executing the new property-tax system slated for next year - Mayor Nutter said it was a “historic day” for Philadelphia.
“The broken system that unfairly undervalued or over-assessed residential, commercial and industrial properties in Philadelphia for decades will now be a thing of the past,” he said. “The old system is dead,” he said at a press conference. “For the first time, our property-tax system will be an accurate reflection of the real value of our properties.”
The Actual Value Initiative, or AVI, seeks to fix the city’s highly inaccurate tax rolls, which for years have been the scorn of Philadelphians who received unpredictable and often unfair tax bills because of outdated assessments.
For two years, city workers have canvassed Philly and reevaluated every plot of land. They determined that the city’s roughly 590,000 taxable properties are worth close to $100 billion in total.
On Friday, the result of their work will start making its way to taxpayers, most of whom should soon receive a notice indicating what the city thinks their land is worth. Residents can appeal the new valuations if they feel the city overshot by filing a complaint with the Office of Property Assessment. Instructions should be included in the mailings.
About 60 percent of residential property owners could be seeing a tax increase under the new system, although most increases will be small. Many commercial property owners, however, could see a decrease because there was less inaccuracy in recent assessments for those plots.
Nutter cautioned residents not to confuse the assessments with their tax bills. City Council must set a tax rate and consider exemptions - including ones to provide relief for homeowners - before actual bills based on the new system can be determined.
The mayor also said that the tax bill for his house, a two-and-a-half story home in Wynnefield, will actually go down, possibly by $460 to $588 depending on what Council decides.
Nutter said he and his wife will donate to the School District's accelerated programs in the amount of the difference in their tax bill.