Collect the $515 million Owed Philly in Overdue Property Taxes
  • Petitioned Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr.

This petition was delivered to:

Phila. City Council At Large
Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr.
Phila. City Council At Large
Councilman Bill Greenlee
Phila. City Council At Large
Councilman Jim Kenney
Phila. City Council Seventh District
Councilwoman Maria Q. Sanchez
Phila. City Council
Council President Darrell Clarke
Phila. City Council First District
Councilman Mark Squilla
Phila. City Council Second District
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson
Phila. City Council Third District
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell
Phila. City Council Fourth District
Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr.
Phila. City Council Sixth District
Councilman Bobby Henon
Phila. City Council 8th District
Councilwoman Cindy Bass
Phila. City Council 9th District
Councilwoman Marian Tasco
Phila. City Council 10th District
Councilman Brian O'Neill
Phila. City Council At Large
Councilman Bill Green
Phila. City Council At Large
Councilman Dennis O'Brien
Phila. City Council At Large
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown
Phila. City Council At Large
Councilman David Oh
Collect the $515 million in overdue property taxes instead
No To Property Tax Hike Again - Revenue Neutral AVI Only
Pennsylvania Governor
Pennsylvania State House
Pennsylvania State Senate
Gov. Thomas Corbett

Collect the $515 million Owed Philly in Overdue Property Taxes

    1. Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
    2. Petition by

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN

      Philadelphia, PA

The schools need consistent funding. Right now the City of Philadelphia has what amounts to an optional property tax payment system. If you don't pay, nothing happens. Property tax collection is almost completely broken.

The city is owed $472 million in overdue property taxes that range from recent debts to decades-old debt on valuable, sought after parcels. Check out Patrick Kerksta's prize-winning coverage of it with Plan Philly:

Politicians have claimed that it's not worth it to go after selling these properties because no one will buy them. That was debunked as a myth here:

Now the Philly School District is stating it must have a property tax increase or else, and this amount requested, $90 million, aligns perfectly already with the Mayor's request for an increase tied to the much needed actual value initiative reform, a reform that pols promised would be revenue-neutral:

Just say no to new property tax hikes, use a revenue-neutral AVI, and collect this debt first. 

Why have the politicos failed to notice that instead of increasing property taxes, you can collect what is owed first? Nutter claims he's greatly improved collections, but the May 2012 property tax collection sheriff sale for the city only has 150 new properties on it:

At that rate, it would take about 50 years for the city to catch up.

Other counties collect property taxes in about one to two years. That is the PA average. And that's about what it is in the rest of the nation in most cases, including those involving bankruptcies.

Is it right to ask the rest of the state pay for their schools and ours in Philly, even when the rest of the state's owners face strict property tax collection in a few years if they fall behind?

Let's collect overdue property taxes first here in Philly. It is right. It is fair. It is time. And if the Philly Democrats can't do this work then the state legislature and Gov. Corbett must step in and take over, much like it had to with the PPA to get it functioning properly.

Property tax debt is a lien against a valuable asset -- property. When that property is sold, the debt is paid. The city has the right to force properties to sheriff sale.

It is a simple matter to compare previous sales values of  shells or unrenovated properties on that block with the tax debt of a property, and compel a sale where that debt is covered by the going price of similar parcels.

Philly's real estate market is doing well in the recession, much better than in other areas of the nation. This property is valuable, from lots, to shells, to old factories, and more. People want to buy and renovate them, paying off the debt in full.

Philly is trying hard to resist sheriff sale of tax delinquent properties, but the time for that has passed. We must band together and all pay our fair share, and that includes the people who got used to never paying.

No more excuses for those who refuse to shoulder their fair burden. No more mollycoddling those who thumb their nose at the system.

Tell our elected officials NO new property taxes until you collect the property taxes owed FIRST.

Recent signatures


    1. Nutter Claims He Will Finally Get Tough -- But Details Fuzzy Again

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Again Nutter claims he will start collection procedures against some of the property tax delinquents who owe the city and schools over half a billion in property taxes, but the details are vague. The Mayor's grasp on the problem never seems to result in real revenue gains for schools and the city.

      Nutter describes new delinquent tax collection strategy

      In a press conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Michael Nutter announced a new $40 million strategy for collecting delinquent taxes. The strategy, which Nutter called "aggressive and multi-faceted," includes $25 million in capital costs and $15 million operating costs over the next five years.

    2. Nutter Announces "New" Effort to Collect Property Taxes -- Begging

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Nutter is attempting a "new" effort to collect the half a billion in overdue property taxes owed the city -- begging people to pay. This toothless non effort is one more fake attempt designed to avoid the hard work of collection by sheriff sale. Nutter hopes you won't notice, or you are one of the delinquents who favors his system and votes for the party that supports it.

    3. Decision-maker Babette Josephs responds:

      Babette Josephs

      Dear Constituent:
      I share your concerns about AVI (Actual Value Initiative), a new scheme by the mayor to extract an extra $94 million of taxes from Philadelphia property owners to fill the gap left by Republican budget cutters.

    4. Philly Public School Debt up to $282 million -- Partial Collection to Start

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      The Philly public school district debt has risen to $282 million due to a final tally of resources and costs. Katharine Graham of the Ink writes:

      "Officials say they want to make up the money by collecting delinquent taxes, and say they are taking steps with the city to make that happen. Should that effort not yield enough new money, though, they say they will have to consider things like non-school cuts, reductions to salary and benefits (both unionized and non-unionized employees) and finally, school cuts - the last resort, they said."

      My question is how could collecting half a billion in overdue property taxes not more than cover what the schools need? Sign on to remind your elected reps to work a bit harder.

    5. Reached 750 signatures
    6. Council: "Tax Hikes GOOD, Collecting Overdue Property Taxes - DO WHAT NOW?"

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Council votes today to hike property taxes today in a $3.6 billion Philly budget. No word yet on any intention to collect overdue property taxes of $515 million.

      Troy Graham of the Ink notes, "The hike - the third property tax increase in three years - would raise $20 million for the nearly insolvent School District of Philadelphia."

      "Coupled with $20 million from an increase in the Use and Occupancy tax on businesses, which Council approved last week, the district will receive $40 million in new money from the city in the next fiscal year," Graham continues.

      Green cast the lone No vote. Maria Q-S was absent. They still need to hear from you that if they can raise taxes, they can collect them.

    7. We Flubbed AVI So Please Limit Taxpayers' Ability to Sue Us, XOXO, Philly

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      So Nutter and Council delayed doing AVI for almost a decade, then at the last minute couldn't bum rush it past us as a tax hike.

      Now they are being sued by disgruntled taxpayers. Solution? Ask the state legislature to limit taxpayers' ability to sue, naturally.

      Just sign the petition, and in the comments say "NO to limiting taxpayers' ability to sue" and no to the two tax hikes coming up for a vote this Thursday, June 28, 2012. There is still plenty of time to make them hear YOU.

      It's your dime. Remind them of that.

    8. State Sen. Boyle, "Why Another Tax Hike When City Not Collecting Taxes?"

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      "My name is Scott Heppard and I am a Legislative Assistant for Representative Brendan Boyle," starts the email.

      "Despite the reasoning of the Nutter Administration, it has not been articulated why another property tax increase or full reassessment via AVI should be implemented when, as you correctly state, the City has not been proactive in collecting property taxes it is owed under the current system."

      "Representative Boyle feels that the City of Philadelphia’s top priority should be to make every effort to recover the near half a billion dollars it is owed before trying to solve its fiscal problems on the backs of residents who are already taxed to their limits."

      "Last month, Representative Boyle introduced legislation in the Pennsylvania House to require any reassessment to be revenue neutral, in order to ensure that future reassessments are not used as a backdoor tax increase on Philadelphians."

      Thanks Sen. Boyle!

      You can thank Sen. Boyle at his contact info below:

    9. Decision-maker Brendan Boyle responds:

      Brendan Boyle

      My name is Scott Heppard and I am a Legislative Assistant for Representative Brendan Boyle. I want to thank you for taking the time to express your views. Representative Boyle is always interested in engaging in an active dialogue with hi...

    10. Very Bad Economic Numbers from Philly Fed as City Dems Try to Hike Taxes

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Ugly numbers from the Philly Fed:

      What will hiking property taxes a third time and U&O taxes do to business in Philly that is under this much pressure?

      You can still sign and tell them NO to tax hikes. If it is worth hiking taxes, it is worth collecting taxes.

    11. "Please Raise Property Taxes, Council, PRETTY PLEASE," Says Nuttter

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Nutter says, "Schools need funding from Council," meaning that he is confident that Harrisburg is a no. Where do these funds from Council come from? The one and only source to this administration -- tax hikes. No AVI necessary.

      Nutter gave an impassioned plea to Council in the video, below. It's "all about the children," he cried. Where have we heard that one before? No mention made of the union negotiations now on hold in the Philly School District, unions which presumably do not contain children.

      Chances are good that the vote on the budget will be delayed one more week, two days from having to halt funding the city. Nutter is convinced he can get some kind of tax hike on SOMETHING.

      Just tell the pols NO to property tax hikes (and mention no to U&O hikes as well). If these unions need money, then it is time to go after the half a billion owed the city in property taxes.

      Tell Nutter forget soda and go after the money the city has already set aside for schools.

    12. No AVI Will LIkely Cost City "Big Bucks" -- More Than Tax Hike Total

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Trying to use AVI to raise taxes may have killed it. Not having AVI in place by July 1, 2012 will likely cost the city big bucks.

      A State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) ruling may cost the city and the school district more than $100 million because of appeals if AVI isn't implemented for FY 2012-13 starting July 1.

      Since property taxes are not accurate in Philly, the STEB is attempting a fix since Philly refuses. Philadelphia arbitrarily assesses at 32 percent of market value.

      But properties are really assessed at 24.8%. Jan Ransom of the DN writes that "Finance Director Rob Dubow estimates that the STEB ruling could cost the city $50 million in appeals." Or more.

      More than the tax hike total of $40 million.

      Council and the Mayor need to hear from you before they hurt themselves. Doesn't it make more sense to just collect the overdue taxes?

    13. Taxes Hiked and Schools Still Short: "It's Never Enough" says Pol

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Even with the combined Philly business and property tax hike of $40 million it will leave schools short, say analysts. So, what to do?

      No one seems to know. No idea of any money that might be specifically allocated for the purpose of funding schools, just sitting around. Nope.

      The plan is for now to hope Council changes its mind and suddenly raises taxes more, or to hope the state will. "The only good news is that some of us would like to believe it will force the state to reexamine its level of support for the schools," said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. "Is it enough? No, it's never enough," writes Troy Graham and Bob Warner of the Ink.

      So the plan is to hope the state, which just reported a deficit of $48 million this fiscal year, gives Philly more money for schools, even though Philly has no plan to collect the half a billion in overdue property taxes owed it.

      What might be wrong with this approach? Hard to say.

      I would let them know what you think.

    14. Council wants to delay AVI a Year; Still Will Hike Prop and Bus Taxes

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Though the vote is not until Thursday, 6/21/12, Philly's City Council wants to delay AVI a year, but still raise property taxes, and use and occupancy taxes on business.

      No word on if or when there will be movement on going after overdue property taxes. Daily News writer Catherine Lucey explains it here:

      "The legislation includes the third property-tax hike in three years and would raise taxes by 3.59 percent to provide $20 million for the school district — meaning an additional $35.90 would be placed on a tax bill of $1,000."

      "To generate another $20 million for schools, the bills would also raise the use and occupancy tax, which taxes the square footage of the business portion of a property, from 4.6 percent to 5.5 percent of assessed value."

      "Two property taxes billed as temporary will also be made permanent in this plan. The legislation also states that AVI will be implemented in the 2013-2014 fiscal year."

      Tell them they need to collect property taxes FIRST.

    15. Council Wants to Delay AVI But Raise Taxes Anyway

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Talk about a curve ball. Proof that this is just about raising taxes and not fixing assessments lay in that this is what Council plans to do.

      They want to delay AVI a year under today's proposal, but RAISE TAXES ANYWAY. Just U&O taxes on business? No. Just property taxes? No.

      BOTH taxes will be raised.

      Why only pick one? Any problems with the State Tax Equalization Board decision outlined in Rob Dubow's apparently too complicated memo didn't enter into Council's decision making today. It will cost hundreds of millions in appeals if they raise taxes on the old assessments. So that is what they chose.

      This doesn't violate the part of the state Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006 that prevents a change in assessment with a tax hike in the same year, since the assessments will still be the old unfair dated ones. Kind of hard to call that a victory for common sense.

      There is still time to let Council and the Mayor know what you think before the vote next THURSDAY. Sign on.

    16. How Many Properties Does the City Put Up For Sheriff Sale in June? Few

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      So AVI might not pass as intended. So the City needs cash right now for schools. So how many properties did officials put up for sheriff sale for overdue property tax collection for the city and schools in June? Only about 200.

      And all of the property is concentrated in the lowest sales values areas of town. Far from "protecting the poor" as the pols claim, there are whole Council Districts in Philly that appear to be exempt from collection.

      Why are we raising property taxes drastically but not going after significant properties that owe? At this rate, what Nutter refers to as "progress," it will take 43 years to collect what is owed.

    17. Budget Vote THURS., 6/21/12: See the Map of AVI at 1.8% for YOU

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      To see a map of AVI at a 1. 8% property tax rate, take a look at this map:

      "The Philadelphia Public Interest Network has created an interactive AVI impact map that allows you to see recent home-sale prices, the current property tax, and the new tax under AVI assuming a 1.8 percent millage rate."

      It looks like huge increases in some neighborhoods and steep decreases on others below what is even paid in average property taxes. Some neighborhoods where the property taxes are expected to decrease by $1000 are neighborhoods where property taxes are less than $1000 a year already in many cases. Unless there is a minimum property tax, they will get a refund.

      Now does that make any sense as a baseline to pay for schools and city services?

      The city budget and AVI vote is this THURSDAY, 6/21/12. Let your elected reps know how you feel.

    18. Reached 500 signatures
    19. "City's Tax Delinquency Epidemic Deepens" but Still No Real Response

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      A shocking new article on property tax delinquency by Patrick Kerkstra for shows that property tax debt under Nutter IS EVEN HIGHER NOW at $515.4 million, over half a billion. It is even more than the $472 million cited in August 2011.

      "Philadelphia property tax delinquents piled up an additional $43.8 million in new debt over the last year, increasing the total amount owed to the city and financially desperate School District to $515.4 million, an increase of 9.3 percent in a single year, city records show." How is that progress again, Mayor Nutter?

      "There are now about 103,000 tax delinquent properties in Philadelphia. About 18 percent of all parcels in the city are in arrears. As documented in a PlanPhilly/Inquirer series last August, no other big city in the nation approaches that level of property tax delinquency."

      But you will pay dramatically more in property taxes in many cases. How does that work you? I'd be sure to let the pols know.

    20. "So What's Your Tax Bill Going to Be?" The Big Chill

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Firmer numbers are coming out. "Let's say your house is worth $250,000, based on recent sales. With a $30,000 homestead exemption and a 1.8 percent tax rate, your bill for next year would be $3,960," writes Catherine Lucey of who has been following the Council process.

      "If your home is likely worth $150,000, the bill would be $2,160. And if it's worth $75,000 then it would be $810." By extension if your house is worth $500,000 then you pay $8460, or 500K - 30K x 0.018.

      If your house is valued at $700,000, then the new tax is $12,060, or 750K - 30K x 0.018.

      "If you've been in your home for more than 10 years, your assessment would be capped at three times your current value for a decade under the gentrification protection," Lucey notes. The effect on a soft real estate market is likely going to be a layer of frost.

      "The city expects to mail new property assessments in September." How's that sound?

      There is still time to sound off.

    21. Philly Pols Change Numbers of Prop Tax AVI Late in Game

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Philly pols are completely changing baseline property tax AVI numbers as they rush to get a budget. It means big hikes. Raising $94 million seems the only fixed number.

      "Earlier this year, the Nutter administration gave Council a taste of how AVI could affect specific neighborhoods. The analysis used an estimated tax rate of 1.25 percent for when AVI would fully go into effect," writes Holly Otterbein in It's Our Money. Now that number is dramatically higher.

      Finance director Rob Dubow now estimates that the tax rate could be about 1.6 to 1.8 percent. The estimate of the total value of all properties dropped to about $80 billion, so they raise the tax rate to keep the revenue target the same.

      “Just for the record, how did we go from $112 billion to $80 billion?” asked Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. Could it be that the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006 means that the game must be changed to get to the only fixed number so far, the $94 million? Not exactly "objective valuation."

    22. Decision-maker Babette Josephs responds:

      Babette Josephs

      Dear Constituent:

      I share your concerns about AVI (Actual Value Initiative), a new scheme by the mayor to extract an extra $94 million of taxes from Philadelphia property owners to fill the gap left by Republican budget cutters.


    23. State Law "Requires AVI to be Revenue Neutral" says State Rep. Mike O'Brien

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      AVI can't be tied to a tax hike according to PA State Rep. Mike O'Brien. I guess Nutter and City Council were hoping that the Commonwealth and taxpayers would not notice.

      O'Brien pointed out that the "Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006," states that "any change in property reassessments would have to be revenue neutral in the first year." Big oopsie, Philly Democrats. Surely Philly Finance Director Rob Dubow knows this. Were they trying to pull a fast one?

      AVI cannot be a hike the same year it is implemented. One year to take in and respond is the relief offered by the 2006 legislation.

      Were the Philly Dems trying to raise property taxes illegally, hoping you would just let them, and keep quiet?

    24. Reached 250 signatures
    25. Reluctant to Raise Taxes, States Push the Tax Man on Tougher Collection

      Lisa Parsley, RN, MSN
      Petition Organizer

      Vermont started demanding that dentists pay taxes on brushes and floss they hand out for free. It started enforcing a tax on mulch. Oklahoma started collecting back state taxes in enforcement actions. Imagine what they would think of Philly!

      "Vermont is among a handful of cash-strapped states getting more aggressive about collecting every tax owed — hiring more collectors, hounding scofflaws and exploiting corners of their tax laws that haven’t been enforced in years. It’s an effort to avoid what politicians from both parties are dead set against: raising taxes."

      “'You don’t want to raise taxes until you’re very sure the taxes that people are supposed to pay are being paid,' said Rep. Janet Ancel, chairwoman of Vermont’s House Ways and Means Committee."

      What does similarly-cashed strapped PA think of Philly's overdue property tax bill?


    Reasons for signing

    • steven stiefel PHILADELPHIA, PA
      • about 1 year ago

      I live here. This is my city, and my family's future at stake.

    • debbie bono PHILA, PA
      • over 1 year ago

      my grandparents ,my parents and now I have not been late one time in over 76 years.our taxes have been paid the moment the bill camre to te door.

      I feel everyone should pay their fair share I also do not believe in the tax abatement theses people are living here tax free while the people who are life long residents have to not only shoulder the people who don't pay taxes ,we now have to pay for these people and the moment it is time to pay up they are trying to sell.

      This is not fair asnd I do feel all have to pay.

      And if you want an opinion the parents of the students of these schools should pay for thier child to go


      Maybe then the children wont be flash mobbing the streets causing damage to property because the parents whold make sure they have the children in the school


    • Scott Johnson PHILADELPHIA, PA
      • over 1 year ago

      Fairness and equality. Why should the majority suffer as a consequence of Philadelphia's reluctance to collect from the few.

    • Kevin Creede PHL, PA
      • over 1 year ago

      Because it is the law for all citizens to pay your taxes. You cannot choose to be exempt from the law. Unless of course you prefer to be incarcerated.

    • Vera Peeples-Primus JENKINTOWN, PA
      • almost 2 years ago

      The State needs to give Philly the funds for the schools... Instead they have funds for prisons...


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