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FAQ

General

What is the Board of Revision of Taxes?

The Board of Revision of Taxes is an independent, seven member board appointed by the Board of Judges of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. The Board is required to hear assessment appeals. The 7 person Board only determines the value for a property when there is an appeal.

What is the Office of Property Assessment?

On October 1, 2010, the Office of Property Assessment (OPA) replaced the Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT) for the purpose of making annual assessments of real property for taxation. OPA employs a full-time staff of Evaluators, managers, programmers, clerical support, and assistants to conduct the day-to-day operation of the valuation function. The BRT now functions as a body to hear assessment appeals, eminent domain cases, and nunc pro tunc petitions.

What is 'real property'?

Real property is commonly referred to as real estate and includes the land and improvements on the land (such as a home or garage). Real property does not include your personal property (such as a car or furniture).

How can I find my OPA Account Number?

The OPA Account Number is a unique 9-digit number that identifies a property and is the same as the old BRT Account Number. If you don’t know your OPA Account Number, you can look it up using your property address or find it on your Real Estate Tax bill. You must include your OPA Account Number on the Real Estate Market Value Appeal.

What is the Homestead Exemption?

It’s a program that will help Philadelphia homeowners reduce the taxable assessed value (effective for Tax Year 2014 and beyond) used for calculation of their tax bill. Owning your home and residing in it are the only qualifications for the program. Get more information about the Homestead Exemption.

What is a Nunc Pro Tunc Petition?

The purpose of nunc pro tunc is to correct errors or omissions to achieve the results intended by the court at the earlier time.

Property Valuation

How is the market value developed for my property?

State Assessment Law mandates that the Office of Property Assessment consider three approaches in developing market values:

  • sales comparison,
  • income, and
  • cost.

For residential properties, the sales comparison approach is most frequently used. This method compares recently sold, reasonably similar properties within a short distance of a specific property or block. Adjustments to values are then made for known differences, resulting in a fair market value.

Isn't ‘market value’ what I paid for my property?

Not always. Market Value has been defined by the State Supreme Court as "the price in a competitive market a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obligated to sell, taking into consideration all legal uses to which the property can be adapted and might reasonably be applied." The price refers to the current value of the property as it stands today, which may be significantly different than what was paid for the property at another point in time or in different condition or use.

Depending on the circumstances involved in a sale, some people may have overpaid for a property. Yet others may have purchased their property at a bargain price. What was paid for a property years ago may not reflect what a property is worth in the current market. The property itself may also have changed in some significant way, such as building an addition or a total rehabilitation. Market value is always defined as of the date of the appraisal.

What is a Real Property assessment?

An assessment is the value that is multiplied by the current tax rate to determine the amount of real estate taxes that you pay on your property. The assessment is sometimes a percentage (referred to or known as the Pre-Determined Assessment Ratio) of the market value of your property. In Philadelphia, that percentage is currently 32% of the market value.

What is 'Millage' and how is it determined?

Millage is another term for tax rate, expressed as tax dollars per thousand dollars of Assessed value. City Council sets the tax rates for the City and School District, which are then applied to the assessment to determine the taxes due. In cases where the entire assessment is not taxable, such as properties with abatements or exemptions, the tax rate is applied only to the taxable portion of the assessment.

What is the difference between assessed value and taxes?

The assessed value is the basis used by the City and the School District to determine your Real Estate Taxes.

  • The assessment is determined by using the following formula:

                     MARKET VALUE (MV) 
                     x PRE-DETERMINED ASSESSMENT RATIO (PDR)
                     = ASSESSED VALUE (AV) 
                     x TAX RATE (TR)
                     = REAL ESTATE TAXES (RET) 

Example:    $50,000 (MV)
                     x .32 *(PDR) 
                     = $16,000 (AV)
                     x .09771(TR) 
                     = $ 1,563.36

The Evaluator does not set the tax rate. The Evaluator analyzes the market and utilizes the Office of Property Assessment’s valuation systems to determine the market value of your property.

*This is the current Predetermined Ratio and Tax Rate. The Predetermined Ratio and Tax Rate may change on an annual basis.

What is meant by the term ‘Catastrophic Loss’?

‘Catastrophic Loss’ means any loss due to fire, flood or other natural disaster which affects the physical state of the real property and which exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the market value of the improvements on the real property prior to the catastrophic loss.

What do I do if I have a fire or other catastrophic loss?

  • You must file a Catastrophic Loss Application in order to report that there has been a catastrophic loss.
    • You must also file the application so that the Office of Property Assessement (OPA) can determine the new market value for the property. The OPA is mandated by Act No. 1984-175, to re-value a property in the following manner: " The value of the property before the catastrophic loss, based on the percentage of the taxable year for which the property stood at its former value, shall be added to the value of the property after the catastrophic loss, based on the percentage of the taxable year for which the property stood at its reduced value."
      • Example: A property has a fire in May 2012 and the fire affects 60% of the market value of $100,000.This means 33% (4 months divided by 12 months) of the taxable year is equal to a market value of $33,000 ($100,000 x 33%) prior to the fire. Sixty percent (60%) (fire damage) of $100,000 is equal to $40,000 market value after the fire. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the taxable year (8 months divided by 12 months) is equal to a market value of $26,800 ($40,000 x 67%). The new market value is $73,000 ($33,000 + $40,000).
    • Any adjustment in the assessment under this Act shall be reflected in the form of a credit for the succeeding tax year.
    • Applications for a reduction in the certified real property market value under this Act must be filed with the OPA, "WITHIN THE REMAINDER OF THE COUNTY FISCAL YEAR* IN WHICH THE CATASTROPHIC LOSS OCCURRED, OR WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF THE DATE ON WHICH THE CATASTROPHIC LOSS OCCURRED, WHICHEVER TIME PERIOD IS LONGER."
*“The fiscal year for the City of Philadelphia...beginning July 1 and ending June 30." Ordinance #2789, December 14, 1967.

What is a property reassessment?

A property reassessment is a reevaluation of real property in Philadelphia with a goal of ensuring that all property values are in compliance with state statutes, applicable laws, and industry standards.

When will I receive my new property assessment and will it be different from my current assessed value?

  • For Tax Year 2013, the certified assessed values must equal the certified assessed values for Tax Year 2011, with adjustments for improvements, demolition, and destruction. Only those properties where there is a change in assessed value from the prior year will receive a notice in September 2012.
  • For Tax Year 2014 and beyond, the City will implement its Actual Value Initiative (“AVI”). AVI is the reassessment of each and every property located within the City and the use of actual values for these tax assessments rather than fractional values. Notices of the new assessed values for Tax Year 2014 will be sent to all property owners in February 2013.

Who can I contact for more information about property assessments?

Contact the Office of Property Assessment’s Customer Service Center at (215) 686-4334.

Who do I contact if I need to discuss the Market Value of my property or if I need any other information concerning my Real Estate Taxes?

Submit an inquiry or contact the OPA’s Customer Service Center at (215) 686-4334.

I don’t see my 2014 Proposed Market Value when I looked up my address on the website. Why?

The Office of Property Assessment is still updating property value information on the website. Please check back later.

I didn't receive my Assessment Notice and everyone else I know did. Why?

Your Notice may have been delayed and will be mailed by March 1, 2013. You can look up your property value. Also, please check that we have an up-to-date mailing address.

Tax Bills

Where can I get information about my Real Estate Taxes?

The City of Philadelphia's Department of Revenue is responsible for collecting Real Estate Taxes. Visit Revenue for information regarding the billing, collecting, and accounting of Real Estate Taxes. Or contact them at (215)-686-6442.

Are there programs available for low-income and/or senior citizens to assist with real estate taxes?

  • There is a Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program available from the Commonwealth of PA, for eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. To apply, you must request an application or call 1-888-222-9190.  
  • The City of Philadelphia has two assistance programs for current year real estate taxes. Visit Revenue or call (215) 686-6442 for more information.
    • Low-Income Senior Citizen Tax Freeze--Eligible low-income senior citizens, who apply by October, can keep their real estate taxes in the next year and all future years from increasing, whether due to changes in assessments or tax rates. There is no need to reapply for the program as long as the financial situation and ownership status of the property does not change. The current application has old dates, but will be accepted; Revenue is in the process of updating forms.
    • Low-Income and Low-Income Senior Citizen Installment Plans- Eligible low-income persons and low-income senior citizens who apply by March of the current tax year can have their current year real estate tax payments split out over eight (8) monthly payments. Future years' real estate taxes will then be split over the full year into 12 monthly payments. There is no need to reapply for the program as long as the financial situation and ownership status of the property does not change.
  • For delinquent real estate taxes, in addition to a standard payment agreement of 25% down with the balance paid out to up to 24 months, the City's Department of Revenue offers a Hardship Payment Agreement, which is payment plan for those who verify that they are low-income. Complete the Low-Income and Extended Term Agreement Application to apply.

Get more information about these programs.

What is a Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption?

A veteran who is 100% service-connected disabled (or their surviving spouse) who demonstrates a financial need may qualify for a 100% exemption from real estate taxes. To apply for this Exemption, contact the Philadelphia County Veterans Affairs Director at 215-686-3256.

Who can I contact to request a duplicate tax bill?

Call the Department of Revenue’s Bill Service Unit at 215-686-2040.

Can I pay my Real Estate Tax without a tax bill?

  • If you have no bill and want to mail the Real Estate Tax payment in, you must send it to:
               City of Philadelphia Department of Revenue 
               P.O. Box 8049 
               Philadelphia, PA 19101-8049. 
  • If you opt to send in a payment and have NO bill, make sure you have the OPA account number on the check/money order. Although the 2013 Tax Bill payment deadline is March 31, 2013, a 1% discount will be applied if paid by February 28, 2013.

Are there going to be other programs to help me pay my Real Estate Taxes?

In addition to the programs already being offered by the City of Philadelphia and other agencies, new programs may be developed to help homeowners.

Who do I contact about tax payments or delinquent taxes?

Email the Department of Revenue regarding all tax payment or tax collection issues or contact them at (215) 686-6442.

How much will I pay in 2014 with this new assessment?

With Actual Value, the formula for calculating your tax bill will be simplified to a Certified Market Value multiplied by the Tax Rate, removing the fractional basis for calculations. Even if your assessed value goes up, your tax bill may go up, stay the same, or go down, depending on the rate passed by City Council in spring 2014 and what programs you are enrolled in (like the Homestead Exemption or the Senior Tax Freeze).