The City of Philadelphia has switched to a new tax website, designed to improve taxpayers’ online experience. The Philadelphia Tax Center contains streamlined self-service tools that allow you to manage your accounts on the go. It was launched on November 1.
Frank Breslin is Philly’s Revenue Commissioner. We talked to him about the new system and why it is the best way to file and pay City taxes.
Why a new tax system?
We’re replacing a 35-year-old tax system with a new cloud-based system. The previous system was very hard to maintain. It was so old and written in a computer language that is no longer in use. Anyone who used our eFile/ePay services may have realized they weren’t getting the online experience we have learned to expect. But with the Philadelphia Tax Center, taxpayers can look forward to:
- Easily filing and paying their taxes online,
- Granting account access to third parties, such as accountants,
- Gaining access to account balances and payment histories right from a customized dashboard, and
- Accessing the site in Spanish.
I think tools like these will make it easier to do business with our Department, and I think Taxpayers will be really happy with the changes.
What’s changing for taxpayers?
You can now file and pay most business taxes in the Philadelphia Tax Center. But most importantly, you don’t need a log in to pay your bills online. This is a big relief for taxpayers who don’t have accounts with us. You can now pay as a guest, a feature that didn’t exist in the old system.
Also, you can expect to start filing and paying some taxes differently. For example, you now have the option of filing your Earnings Tax electronically – another big upgrade for taxpayers. There will also be new filing frequencies for some taxes, including the Liquor Tax.
Some payment websites are going away. Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) filers must now use the new website to file and pay this tax. Also, folks can no longer use the ACH Debit EZ-pay or pay-by-phone method to pay certain City taxes. I encourage you to visit the Philadelphia Tax Center to learn more about these changes.
What’s not changing for taxpayers?
Being able to file or receive paper bills isn’t going away. It’s totally up to the taxpayer. While we encourage online tax filing and paying, we understand that some folks will always prefer to file paper returns and receive their bills by mail. These taxpayers can continue to enjoy this service.
Folks should also understand that the Philadelphia Tax Center will not include all City taxes this year. Real Estate Tax filers will continue to use the old system until 2022, when this and other taxes are added to the new website.
How is the new system better for tax professionals and businesses in the city?
One of the most notable things is that they can now access their tax histories anytime, anywhere. Previously, businesses and tax professionals had to call us to request these records. It was time consuming; they had to wait to receive their records in the mail.
Today, they can access these documents whenever they want online, which is a huge upgrade for this group of taxpayers. They will also be able to check their accounts and track any missed filings or payments to help them stay current with their taxes.
What should taxpayers do?
It’s really important that we have the correct mailing address on file for you. If you are already a Philly taxpayer, you’ll be able to create a username and password, and then request a verification letter from us. The letter will come in the mail with a unique code that you can use to access your tax accounts. We have a great video that explains everything. You’ll also find that video in Spanish.
New taxpayers don’t have to go through this process; just create a username and password to use the tax center. I encourage you to visit the Philadelphia Tax Center for more information about this process.
Don’t wait until tax time to visit the Philadelphia Tax Center. I urge folks to check it out now and get familiar with it. We also have a great overview video if you want to get a mini demo.