By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the city about to move to a new property tax system, city council members today are continuing a two-day hearing focused on doing a better job of going after tax deadbeats. Aides to the mayor are defending their efforts.
Council members like Curtis Jones of the 4th District say they’re getting an earful from constituents about the move to the AVI property tax system:
“I took an AVI butt-whooping (at a community meeting) up in Upper Wissahickon. And you haven’t had your butt whooped by the taxpayers until you have an AVI butt-whooping. And one of the issues that was raised was what are we going to do about collecting the taxes that are due us?”
The hearing came in the wake of an Inquirer series that found the Nutter Administration has a worse tax collection record than previous administrations. But the mayor’s Revenue Commissioner, Keith Richardson, defended his department’s record:
“We started the city Tax Fraud line. We had the most successful (tax) amnesty in the United States of any municipal government. We have a Tax Clearance unit that’s doing work that’s never been done before. We’re making outbound phone calls on the current taxes that are due. That’s never been by prior administrations. The previous administrations have not done as much as we have done.”
And Richardson said the higher tax collection rate of past mayors was due to better economic times, with residents and business owners better able to pay the taxman.