Today is the last day for Philadelphia property owners to appeal their new property tax assessment. The catch here is that you may may not even know if you need to take this step by the October 7 deadline. If you don't start the final appeal process and find out later that you should have, your options are severely limited.
The City of Philadelphia changed its property tax system to the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), which takes effect starting in tax year 2014. The change brought a new program, the Homestead Exemption, and a new tax appeal process, which includes first- and second-level review requests in the formal tax appeal process.
The challenge for the city is that they haven't been able to get through all of the first-level appeals and due to a backlog of cases, not all homeowners who appealed their new assessments have been notified of the decision. So, they don't know yet if they'll need to consider that second level appeal.
The deadline to file a 'formal' appeal with the Board of Revision of Taxes is Monday.
Richie McKeithen, the city's first chief assessment officer with the Office of Property Assessment (OPA), says the city has worked diligently to get all the new tax and appeal information out to residents so homeowners can act in their best interest.
"This is the first year the city has done something like this," said McKeithen. "It's a matter of the public knowing how this is going to go every year."
Homeowners who did not agree with their new property tax assessment were able to file a first level appeal with the OPA by April 1. McKeithen says 49,000 homeowners submitted a first level appeal request out of 579,000 properties.
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The OPA has processed about 27,000 first-level review applications. The office sent more than 20,000 letters to those homeowners who have not received a response to their first level review to inform them they have until October 7 to file a formal appeal with the Board of Revision of Taxes.
McKeithen says the courtesy letter was a reminder to homeowners "in case they weren't happy, they don't want to miss an opportunity to file with the Board of Revision of Taxes."
If a homeowner misses the October 7 deadline to file a formal appeal, the only remaining recourse to object to a property tax assessment is to file a petition with the Court of Common Pleas directly, which may require legal counsel.
The formal appeal application may be filed in person at 601 Walnut Street, Suite 325 East, or by mail. You may obtain an application here.