City makes effort to save homeowners money on real estate taxes — really

The Department of Revenue has sent out educational "street teams.".

Pat Loeb
August 16, 2018 - 6:35 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia tax officials are taking an unorthodox approach: They're sending out teams to go door-to-door to try to save taxpayers money.

The Department of Revenue has sent out "street teams" to make sure homeowners know about real estate tax discounts.

There are several programs designed to save homeowners money on real estate taxes. The Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Freeze, for instance, locks in current tax rates, even if the assessment goes up for low-income seniors. 

The Homestead Exemption knocks $40,000 off assessed value for anyone who lives in a home they own, and OOPAs, Owner-occupied Payment Agreements, allow homeowners to make affordable monthly payments on late property taxes. 

Revenue Department analyst Rebecca Lopez Kriss said the $32,000 direct outreach pilot project hopes to get the message out to seniors and others across 10,000 households whose lack of access to the internet might keep them from benefiting.

"Not all seniors are very comfortable on the internet or they don't trust the internet, so this is another way to reach folks," she said. "Folks who may have challenges, they're the most vulnerable, and we want to make sure that they access all of the programs that can help them."

Lopez Kriss said the teams are deployed in six census tracts with high rates of delinquency and also at local supermarkets through the end of the month. The city wants to reach them now, she noted, because the deadline for locking in 2018 rates for the senior tax freeze and applying for the Homestead Exemption is Sept. 13.

"The assessments changed from 2018 to 2019, so this is a crucial year, especially for senior tax freeze," she said.