home ownership

A Guide to Philadelphia’s Real Estate Property Tax Programs

Chances are, by the time you own your first property, you are used to having to prepare for tax season. Either you file your income taxes yourself online if they are simple enough or hire an accountant to do them for you. However, property taxes can bewilder even a longtime homeowner. Why? Because property tax seems to go up, down, and sideways. Sure, you want your home to increase in value, but what happens when taxes increase beyond your ability to pay? We created the below guide to help you find resources and take advantage of existing city tax programs.

“Most people do not know how the property tax system works. The math is not intuitive. Just because your assessment goes up doesn’t mean taxes go up,” explained David Wilk, PhD, Director at Temple University’s Fox Business School, Real Estate Program. “The City relies on property taxes to cover its budget. Everyone has to pay their fair share, but the City cannot raise taxes indiscriminately. People need to understand what is happening and know their options.”

A good place to start? Visit the City of Philadelphia Property Tax portal. There you will find information on how to appeal a property tax assessment, find your property tax balance, report a change to lot lines of your property, and get Real Estate Tax Relief.

Homestead Exemption

If you own your primary residence you may be eligible for a Homestead Exemption which will reduce the property’s assessed value by $80,000 and save you as much as $1,119 a year. There are no age or income requirements and you qualify even if you have a mortgage or owe back taxes. Applications must be submitted from Sept 13th and no later than Dec 1. More information on the program and Homestead Application may be accessed online.

Real Estate Tax Credit Program

If your Real Estate Tax bill increased by 50% or more, you may qualify for a one-time tax credit. The Program offers up to a $500 tax credit. You can apply this credit to a balance from your 2023 or 2024 tax bill. If you don’t have a balance, the credit will be applied to your Real Estate Tax account for future tax years. 

Longtime Owner Occupant Program (LOOP)

If your property assessment increased at least 50% (1.5 times the previous amount) over last year, or at least 75% (1.75 times the previous amount) over the past five years, you could be eligible for LOOP. To be eligible, you must have lived in your home for ten years and have the following income limit: one person, $96.100; two people $109,800; three people, $123,550. You can’t have LOOP and the Homestead Exemption at the same time, so run the numbers or talk to your real estate broker before applying. For more info, contact revenue@phila.gov. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30, 2024. 

Set Up An Installment Plan

The Philadelphia Tax Center offers an installment plan for low-income taxpayers and all seniors, regardless of income. This allows you to pay your property tax in monthly installments. If you make all required monthly payments, you are automatically enrolled in the installment plan for the following year, unless you did not pay your taxes in full. 

Low-Income Senior Tax Freeze

If you are over 65, own a home or condo, and have an income of less than $33,500 for a single person or $41,500 for a couple, you are eligible for a Tax Freeze. The deadline for applying is Sept 30th.

Real Estate Tax Payment Plan for a Property You Don’t Live In

If you are behind in your taxes for a property, other than one in which you live, the City has a plan for you. Property owners who owe Real Estate Tax, and do not live in their property, can use these agreements to gradually pay off previous years’ debt over 48 months. Learn more here and visit the online calculator to determine your monthly payments.

Real Estate Tax Deferral Program

If your Real Estate Tax increases by more than 15% from the previous year, you may be able to pay the excess amount at a later date. Check the eligibility guidelines to see if you qualify.

For more information and to discuss your specific needs contact a property tax consultant. Our agents at Solo Real Estate can help guide you to resources but we are not able to provide personal finance or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only.

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