From time to time, the Philadelphia Inquirer publishes a series of investigative stories that shine a powerful light on a local problem. Readers are perhaps vaguely aware of these problems beforehand, but the Inquirer reports provide wonderful context and depth that help quantify an issue or personalize it in some way. For example, one could argue that the now two-year-old report on the BRT dramatically increased awareness about our property assessment problems and directly led to (still incomplete) action from City Hall. We believe that the report on school violence from earlier this year has played a role in the public’s opinions about Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. Her personality probably plays a bigger role, but still…
Over the past couple of days, reporter Patrick Kerkstra and others have contributed to a report for the Inquirer and Plan Philly called “The Delinquency Crisis,” which covers a subject near and dear to our hearts: property tax delinquency in Philadelphia.
Some key takeaways: 111K properties are tax-delinquent. That represents 19% of parcels in Philadelphia. A total of $472M is owed to the city and school district. This problem exists all over the city, but is most concentrated in lower-income neighborhoods. The city does a terrible job going after tax scofflaws for a variety of reasons. The problem has gotten even worse since Mayor Nutter has come into office. Philadelphia is one of, if not the worst city in the country when it comes to property tax delinquency.
Wondering if a property near you is tax delinquent? The Inquirer and Plan Philly developed this excellent tool to find out. Click here to check it out.
This is one of the biggest problems in Philadelphia and we have to get this one right. Come on, Mr. Mayor! If we auction off a thousand properties every month, it’ll still take over nine years to get through all of them. What are we waiting for???