Frequently Asked Questions
 
What if I cannot pay in full?
If you are unable to pay your tax bill in full:
  • Immediately contact us so we can help you meet your tax obligations with a payment plan.
  • File your tax return anyway, if one is required
  • Pay what you can
The Department of Revenue normally requires a down payment of 25% with the balance to be paid in 12 equal monthly installments. The Department does have a special payment plan available for Real Estate Taxes. If we do not hear from you, we must assume that you refuse to pay, and we must carry out our responsibility to enforce collection of your tax obligation.
What happens if I refuse to pay or don’t make a payment arrangement with the City?
You will be charged interest and penalties for late payments, as well as face a $5,000 fine for failure to file required tax returns. The City will attempt to contact you to provide you with the opportunity to pay voluntarily. If you do not cooperate, the City can take more aggressive actions, including:
  • Referring your account to a collection agency.
  • Seizing your real estate and other property.
  • Revoking or denying business licenses.
  • Seeking criminal prosecution that can result in up to 7 years in jail
What if I just realized I need to pay?
As soon as you determine that you have a tax obligation to Philadelphia, please make arrangements to register and get an account number, file missing returns, and pay. If you come forward before the City contacts you to disclose any past liabilities, the Department of Revenue has programs available to help you avoid the penalties. The Department of Revenue’s Voluntary Disclosure program will work with you to reduce interest and penalties under $10,000, if you call us before we find you. Call 215-686-6614.
Why is someone other than the Revenue Department contacting me about my delinquent taxes and/or water bill?
90 days after the due date of a tax bill or water bill, accounts are sent to the Law Department or the Law Department’s Collection Agencies for collection. If you are contacted by the Law Department or one of the Collection Agencies you must deal with them directly to pay and settle your account. The Law Department may also utilize the Sheriff’s Office to collect delinquent taxes or turn over delinquent cases to the District Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution.
Does the City grant waivers on interest and penalties for not filing returns and non-payment of taxes?
During the recent tax amnesty program, the City waived 50% interest and 100% penalties to make it easier for taxpayers to pay outstanding debts. Post amnesty, the City will no longer have such generous waivers. Each request for a waiver will now receive significantly higher levels of scrutiny.
Can you face criminal prosecution for not paying by taxes?
Yes, failure to pay trust fund taxes, including wage, liquor, hotel, amusement and parking taxes, is considered theft under the state law. These cases will be referred to the District Attorney’s Office for potential prosecution and can result in up to 7 years imprisonment.
Can Business Privilege Licenses be revoked for non-payment of business related taxes?
Yes, the Department of Licenses and Inspections can revoke business licenses for non-payment, forcing businesses to cease operations.
What is the City doing to ensure that employees and businesses doing business with the City are paying what they owe?
The City has implemented the following programs:

Employee Indebtedness Program– The Department of Revenue, in partnership with the Office of the City Controller, has developed a program to bring City employees into compliance. Employees who do not pay their outstanding debts in full or through payment agreements will be subject to involuntary payroll deductions. The City requires that new hires be in full financial compliance with the City before they are hired. New hires who are in compliance when hired and later are no longer compliant are then subject to involuntary payroll withholding.

Board Member Compliance- On July 6, 2010, Mayor Nutter signed Executive Order 3-10 requiring that “board members appointed by the City to serve on City boards and commissions are fully and currently compliant with requirements for payment of taxes, debts, fees, judgments, claims and other accounts and financial obligations due and owing to the City and do not violate the laws and ordinances that require them to pay taxes and other charges, including charges due to the Philadelphia Gas Works…”

Vendor Compliance Program – The City partners with other governments and quasi-government agencies, such as the Philadelphia Parking Authority, School District and PGW to seek tax clearances for any vendors they use. Vendors doing business with the City are checked twice for compliance, once before the contract is awarded and again at the end of the contract. If a vendor falls out of compliance by the end of the contract, the Office of the Controller withholds their payments until the vendor comes into compliance.

Why are delinquent taxpayers and customers being posted on the Internet?
The City of Philadelphia believes that the public should know the names of those who have not paid judgments and liens against them, and fees owed the City. The City will continue to publish the names of the debtors on this enforcement website and has implemented targeted strategies to collect from delinquents.
Are the delinquency amounts listed on the website the actual total owed?
No, the current amount actually due may differ from the amount listed on the site because a partial payment has been made and/or because of the accrual of additional interest, penalties, and other fees since the publication. The City does not guarantee or represent that these are the only amounts owed by a given taxpayer or customer.
Can there be other liabilities with the Department of Revenue that are not listed on the Internet?
Yes, additional judgments, liens, interest, penalties and/or delinquent fees may have been applied since the publication. The City does not guarantee or represent that these are the only amounts owed by a given taxpayer or customer.
How do individuals or businesses know their names may be published?
Judgment debtors have received numerous letters before and after judgment. Delinquent water/sewer customers have received past due notice(s) and intent to shut off water/sewer service if outstanding debts are not paid. All delinquent taxpayers and customers have also been given an opportunity to enter into payment plans or pay the debts in full prior to publication.
How frequently is the data on the tax or water/sewer delinquents lists refreshed?
A new group of highlighted delinquencies will be posted every quarter.
What is considered a delinquent business tax judgment?
The City sues delinquent taxpayers for nonpayment of business taxes, which include business privilege taxes, wages and net profits taxes, among others. The Court will enter judgment against the taxpayer in the amount of the tax owing and unpaid, including applicable interest and penalties.
Why are business tax judgments being posted on the Internet?
All judgments are matters of public record. Judgments are available in the Prothonotary’s Office in City Hall.
What is considered a delinquent real estate tax?
Real estate taxes become delinquent and subject to liens on the January 1 following their March 31 due date.
Why are the names of delinquent real estate taxpayers being posted on the internet?
Delinquent real estate properties are liened and this is public information that is already available online at http://www.phila.gov/revenue/RealEstateTax/.
When is a water/sewer account delinquent?
A water/sewer account becomes delinquent when the customer owes $75.00 or greater and are two billing cycles delinquent.
Why are the names of delinquent water/sewer customers being posted on the Internet?
Delinquent water/sewer customers are liened and this is public information that is available in the Prothonotary’s Office of City Hall.
What is the Prothonotary’s Office?
The Prothonotary is considered the clerk who keeps records and the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, issues process, enters judgment, and certifies the record. The Prothonotary of Philadelphia is appointed by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas (the Board of Judges). Judgments against businesses and individuals can be searched for on the Prothonotary’s website.