Property Tax Assessment Appeals Could Take 18 Months

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tony Auth | NewsWorks.org
    NewsWorks artist in residence Tony Auth illustrates the bureaucracy of the AVI appeals process. (Tony Auth/for NewsWorks)

    With Philadelphians complaining that their new property tax assessments are inaccurate, the agency that will hear appeals is gearing up to be much busier than normal.

    At the same time, the Revenue Department's new head is promising to crack down on tax delinquents.

    Executive Director of the Board of Revision of Taxes Carla Pagan says fewer than 50 homeowners have filed appeals now, but the flood won't occur until close to the October deadline.

    "That's how it's been for years," PAgan said. "It's just the nature of the beast. It's usually quiet before Labor Day, and then you come in and there's 2,000 pieces of mail there. So that's why we have temporary staff start Sept. 1 or maybe come in mid-August to start training."

    Pagan says, even while moving quickly, it will take a long time to resolve disputed assessments.

    "Depending on the number of appeals that are filed, if we use our conservative numbers of 10,000, it will take less than a year to go through all the appeals," she said. "If we get closer to 45- to 50,000, it might take a year to a year and a half, depending on how aggressively we do the hearing schedule."

    Pagan says her agency randomly picked assessments to see how accurate they are, and the results appear good.

    The new Philadelphia Revenue Commissioner Clarena Tolson says she will do whatever is necessary to collect outstanding taxes, but won't agree to a tax amnesty.

    "In order to create a culture where everyone understand now they have to pay their fair share in Philadelphia, we need to put amnesty behind us in regard to our taxes and make sure that people pay, and pay appropriately."

    Tolson says offering tax forgiveness would encourage property owners to rack up tax bills while waiting for the next amnesty.


    This story was reported through a news coverage partnership between NBC10.com and NewsWorks.org