Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

City cracks down on tax-delinquent pensioners

This is the kind of thing you expect to see in a muckraking article about the city, rather than a press release from the city, but it just popped up in our inbox, from City Hall:

City cracks down on tax-delinquent pensioners

This is the kind of thing you expect to see in a muckraking article about the city, rather than a press release from the city, but it just popped up in our inbox, from City Hall:

Currently, the City of Philadelphia has 33,000 pensioners and beneficiaries receiving pension benefits. Of that, approximately 2,500 owe $12.9 million to the City in delinquent taxes.

We already knew that the city had a problem with city employees who owe back taxes. Turns out some former employees have fallen out of tax compliance, too, and they owe a big chunk of change.

The purpose of the press release was to announce a crackdown on these folks. The city recently sent a letter to all pension recipients who owe taxes, which likely arrived at most of their homes on Saturday or Monday, according to spokesman Mark McDonald. The letter explained the pensioners' options for getting square with the city: They can pay up or enter an agreement to pay up over time. If they don't, the city can start deducting as much as 25% of their benefits from their checks. It can also publish their names on this website, where Bernard Hopkins points at them menacingly.

The average city pension was $18,363 last year, and the city says it will give "due consideration to ensure fair and affordable payment terms" for those with financial hardships. Given that, this seems like a clear proactive step for the city to take to help fill its coffers.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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