Individuals, families and businesses across Philadelphia are paying more tax dollars in full and on time, and deserve recognition. Last year we collected 95.5% of Real Estate Taxes in the same year they were billed. This is an historic high figure, and we are on pace to do even better this year.
When people pay their fair share of the tax burden—and more than nine out of 10 Philadelphians do—the City can strive to be a better place for everyone. These funds pay for modern classrooms, clean commercial corridors, safe neighborhoods, vibrant libraries, green parks, and much more.
The total number of delinquent Real Estate Tax accounts fell to 72,441 in 2017. That is around 20,000 fewer delinquent accounts than in 2015. The total principal from Real Estate Tax delinquency last year sank to $158 million, a decline of 31% in the past five years.
Celebrating record-setting figures is fine. But what we’re really excited about are several years of steady and visible progress. We’re building a strong and lasting culture. One where compliance is the norm, and tax delinquency is the exception.
Improved tax collection in Philadelphia can be traced to several Department of Revenue initiatives.
The Department of Revenue is getting better at reaching taxpayers. We have increased our billing frequency. We have opened new channels of online communication. We have stepped up our presence at community events.
Revenue is making it easier for people to pay. Using our eCheck system is free, and more than 60% of collection is now done electronically. At the same time, we’ve made payment agreements more flexible for both homeowners and business owners. We’ve also updated assistance programs, like the Owner-Occupied Payment Agreement, to help more people get into compliance.
Finally, we’ve toughened our enforcement measures. Data sharing with federal and state agencies now allows us to uncover delinquent accounts faster. We’re also reinforcing existing License Revocation and Sheriff Sale programs. The programs have proven effective in getting people to settle their debt with the City. Taxpayers usually choose to pay in full, or get into a payment agreement, before losing their business license or their property.
Together with taxpayers, we’re collecting more tax dollars on time. Together, we’ll keep improving and setting high standards for our city.
Photo credit: Philadelphia Parks and Recreation