City of Philadelphia

Office of the City Solicitor



Tax Unit


Frances R. Beckley

Chief Counsel to the

Revenue Department


As Chief Counsel to the Revenue Department, Frances Ruml Beckley leads the Law Department's Tax Unit and reports to both the City Solicitor and the Commissioner of Revenue.  Ms. Beckley previously worked for the Tax Unit in the Major Tax Enforcement Division. She also has experience at large firms representing taxpayers in Federal, State and local tax matters.  She has her AB from Harvard College, her JD from Yale Law School, and her LLM (Taxation) from New York University Law School.  


The Tax Unit represents the City as plaintiff, seeking to collect taxes and certain other amounts owed to the City, and also represents the City as defendant in cases where taxpayers dispute their liabilities.  Those cases include all appeals to and from the Board of Revision of Taxes and the Tax Review Board.  The Unit also handles all City Tax Sales and Bankruptcy matters, many itself and others through outside counsel.  Finally, the Tax Unit acts as legal advisor to the Revenue Department and as joint overseer with the Revenue Department of the City's collection contracts with both law firms and collection agencies.


The Tax Administration Division, led by Cynthia E. White, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, is responsible for Municipal Court mass litigation concerning business taxes and water/sewer delinquencies.  Ms. White is a 1980 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and has been practicing with the City since 1984.


The Major Tax Enforcement Division, led by Frank Paiva, Jr., Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, is responsible for managing a group of dedicated attorneys and paraprofessionals who represent the City in business tax controversies, high-dollar business tax collection cases, bankruptcies, and executions on personal judgments.   Mr. Paiva is also responsible for drafting tax legislation and for representing the city in trial and appellate tax cases.  Prior to joining the City Law Department, Mr. Paiva was a senior associate in the tax department of the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius.  He is also a certified public accountant with several years experience at the accounting firm formerly known as Arthur Young and Company.  Mr. Paiva received his B.S. summa cum laude from Fordham University College of Business Administration and his J.D. with high honors from Duke University School of Law.  


The Real Estate Tax Division, led by James Zwolak, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, handles real estate tax and water/sewer foreclosures for the Revenue Departments. Mr. Zwolak received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany and his J.D. from Temple University School of Law.  This Division also files collection lawsuits for real estate taxes in both Common Pleas and Municipal Courts and acts as legal counsel to both the City and School District of Philadelphia in tax assessment appeals, notably the 2,000 appeals that have been filed  for 2012 by many commercial property owners.  The Division also handles all Use and Occupancy ("U&O") Tax Collection and Tax Review Board cases, all transfer tax legal opinions and litigation matters, as well as Payment In Lieu of Taxes ("PILOT") agreements. 


Senior Attorney Christine Bak is the Tax Unit's expert on Realty Transfer Tax and Use and Occupancy (U&O) Tax.  Ms. Bak also has primary responsibility for supervising the City's Payment in Lieu of Taxes ("PILOT") agreements.  Ms. Bak received her B.A. from Pennsylvania State University and her J.D. and L.L.M. in taxation from Temple Law School.


Christine Bak                   215-686-0514

Economic Development &

Realty Transfer Tax


Francis Beckley                215-686-0510

Chief Counsel


Frank Paiva                      215-686-0515

Major Tax


Cynthia White                  215-686-0503

Tax Administration


James Zwolak                  215-686-0523

Real Estate Tax





Cynthia E. White

Chief Deputy City Solicitor

James J. Zwolak

Divisional Deputy City Solicitor

Marco A. Muniz

Aaron Shotland

Elisa Advani 

Jill Freeman

James Vandermark

Amanda Dougherty



Frank Paiva, Jr.

Divisional Deputy City Solicitor

Christine Bak

Senior Attorney  

Anne Whitcombe

Senior Attorney


Marissa M. O'Connell

Susan Crosby

Nikkki Johnson-Huston

Pearl Pham

Jennifer Coleson

Brooke Carey


Chair, Corporate & Tax

Commercial Law Unit

Commercial Litigation Unit

Economic Development & Investments Unit

Regulatory Affairs Unit

Property Assessment

Special Corporate Counsel