By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two weeks before Philadelphia homeowners are due to receive updated property assessments, Mayor Michael Nutter has announced new efforts to crack down on those who avoid paying their property taxes.
Mayor Nutter said he understands some people are in a bind at times and find it difficult to pay their property tax bills. But the real deadbeats, he says, are able to pay.
“Now there are some other trifling, raggedy people around here, who can actually pay and don’t pay,” Nutter says. “And we’re going to chase their little asses down as hard as possible.”
Nutter announced what he described as a new aggressive stance toward property tax deadbeats. It includes spending $25-million dollars for a new computer system to track deadbeats, and to analyze who should be targeted for collection efforts, as well as $15-million to staff a new call center. Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson said it would be the first software upgrade in his department in twenty years.
Nutter predicted that by spending $40-million now, the city could bring in an extra $260-million dollars in tax revenue over five years. Officials say the city is currently owed $518-million dollars in back taxes dating back a decade. About half of that amount is delinquent property taxes. Nutter says many deadbeats put the city’s tax bills at the bottom of their list.
“They pay the phone company, they pay PECO, they pay a whole lot of folks, and they’re not paying us,” the mayor says. “And we’re not going to stand for it anymore.”
Nutter said they’re also going to turn cases over to collection agencies sooner than they have in the past. Aides to the mayor say they’d like the new technology and the new call center up and running by 2016, though some portions may come on-line sooner.
The mayor’s announcement comes just two weeks before all property owners are going to receive new assessments on which will be based the tax bills that are due in 2014.