If your tax circumstances aren’t adequately addressed in the Philadelphia Code or the Department of Revenue‘s regulations, you can request a technical, or “private letter,” ruling. Private letter rulings are issued jointly by the Department of Revenue’s technical staff and the Law Department. If your request is accepted, Revenue’s technical staff and the Law Department will assess your tax situation in the context of relevant tax regulations, laws, and policies. Once Revenue and Law have determined the proper treatment for your circumstances, they will send you a ruling that specifically answers your tax question.
The Departments of Revenue and Law are not obligated to issue a private letter ruling in response to a taxpayer request.
Requesting a private letter ruling
A request for a private letter ruling should be as detailed as possible. First and foremost, the identity of the taxpayer seeking the ruling must be disclosed. The Departments will not issue a ruling for an undisclosed taxpayer.
The ruling request should always provide the specific question(s) to be answered by Revenue. The taxpayer must also provide a detailed set of all facts and circumstances that are applicable to the situation or transactions. This is true whether the events already occurred or are just being contemplated.
The request must also include any applicable federal, state, or local tax statutes that govern the facts or transactions in the taxpayer’s situation. If the taxpayer believes that the City should take a particular tax position, the taxpayer should provide the reasons for that position.
The private letter ruling is valid only for the taxpayer who requested it, and cannot be used or relied upon by another taxpayer. In addition, the private letter ruling may not be used or cited as a precedent in a judicial proceeding.
Mail your letter request and fee (check payable to “City of Philadelphia”) to:
Philadelphia Law Dept.
Philadelphia Dept. of Revenue
Attn: Frances Ruml Beckley
Municipal Services Building
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Room 580
Philadelphia, PA 19102
There are several fees associated with requests for private letter rulings. The standing rates are:
- $1,500 for any opinion on the Realty Transfer Tax.
- $1,000 for any other tax-related opinion.
- $2,000 additional for an expedited ruling. Expedited rulings are issued within 20 days of the receipt of a complete and proper request.
As example, if a taxpayer is seeking an expedited ruling on the Realty Transfer Tax, the combined fee would be $3,500. The fee is due and payable at the time of the request.
Withdrawing your request
A taxpayer may withdraw a request for a private letter ruling at any time before the ruling has been issued. In this situation, the withdrawn request will not entitle the taxpayer to a refund of the fee unless the opinion remains outstanding for more than 120 business days after the receipt of a complete, proper request.