City Council Just Gave Some Taxpayers a Holiday Gift

Last Thursday, December 13, 2018, City Council approved an amendment to the Philadelphia Code that will allow taxpayers who have “timely filed” an appeal of their property’s 2019 assessed value “with the Board of Revision of Taxes” to pay their 2019 taxes by March 31, 2019 in the amount reflected on their 2018 property tax bills.   If the 2018 property tax bill is lower than that for tax year 2019, taxpayers will not incur any interest and/or penalty for paying less than the full amount of the 2019 bill.  Only once a final decision is reached on the 2019 appeal by either the BRT or Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas will the full amount of the 2019 property tax bill, as determined by that final decision, become due.  Full text of the amendment can be found here.

The amendment does not address the new practice by the BRT and the Office of Property Assessment of allowing BRT appeals to be filed within thirty days of the OPA’s decision on a taxpayer’s first level review (“FLR”) application.  As I explained here, it was not entirely clear that the BRT would accept appeals after the statutory deadline (the first Monday in October), even though FLR decision letters include language directing taxpayers to appeal those decisions to the BRT within thirty days if a taxpayer is dissatisfied with the OPA’s decision.

However, the BRT is accepting appeals after the statutory deadline if filed within thirty days of the date on the FLR decision letter.  Moreover, the OPA continues to issue those decision letters and apparently plans to do so until all 20,000 or so applications are addressed.  This means that, technically, if the OPA has not made a decision on a taxpayer’s FLR application by March 31, 2019, the taxpayer may still receive the decision and lodge a timely appeal to the BRT.  Nevertheless, under the strict language of the newly-amended ordinance, that same taxpayer will not qualify to pay their (lower) 2018 tax bill amount and avoid payment of the full, but contested, amount of the 2019 tax bill, because on March 31, 2019, they hadn’t yet timely filed an appeal.  It is unclear how the City’s Revenue Department will handle such situations.

Still, if you filed your appeal to the BRT by the statutory deadline (as I previously urged), then you can take advantage of the newly amended ordinance.

Happy Holidays!

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