Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Delinquent property tax collection on the rise

Philadelphia has collected more than $45 million in back property taxes in the first four months of the year and cut the number of tax-delinquent properties by about 30,000 - a reduction of 25 percent from the previous year, records show.

Revenue commissioner Clarena Tolson said the $45 million represents about half the $91 million in delinquent property-tax revenue collected for all of last year. It poured in from properties whose balances were eliminated through payment or sheriff's sale, and through partial payments on outstanding bills, she said.
"Once people realize the city has changed its approach to delinquency, they tend to pay," Tolson said. She credits her department's collection success to "a concerted and strategic effort to support the school district through aggressive collection of taxes."

At the end of 2013, the city had 126,000 tax-delinquent properties, owing more than $575 million in back taxes on file, according to records obtained by the Daily News. By April 15, the number of delinquent properties - most of them fewer than three years behind - had dropped by about 30,000, records show.
The largest tax debts cleared included $8 million collected through the settlement of the former Foxwoods site, at 1499 S. Columbus Blvd., and just over $900,000 paid by Penn Wynn Inc., owner of a large apartment complex at 2201 Bryn Mawr Ave., which owed four years' worth of back taxes.
Penn Wynn paid up, Tolson said, after the city threatened to sell the property at sheriff's sale to collect the debt.

"It's great they're able to really start collecting," said Jeff Goldman, of South Philadelphia, co-founder of Scioli Turco, a nonprofit that rehabs derelict properties in Philadelphia.

"The school district really needs ," he said, referring to a portion of the tax revenue that will go to help fund city schools. "In other cities, if you don't pay for two years, you've got to scramble. It's about time."


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