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By Mike Dunn

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With thousands of new property assessments under appeal, city council and the mayor are split over extending a grace period for those whose appeals are still pending when the bills come due.

At a hearing, the Mayor’s Finance Director Rob Dubow argued for the current system, in which owners must pay a tax bill even if the appeal is still pending — and then get a refund later if they win the appeal.

Councilman Mark Squilla asked Dubow if that was fair:

“That is fair, they get their money back,” Dubow responded.

“So they should pay first, and then because of the wrong assessment, whenever the hearing is held, would get a refund maybe a year later? Or two years later?” Squilla asked.

“Well hopefully the process doesn’t take that long,” Dubow said.

But the council committee voted to extend to commercial property owners what is already being given to residential owners.

If an appeal of a new assessment is not resolved by next February, when tax bills are due, they can pay last year’s tax amount, and then settle up when the appeal is later resolved.

A similar measure was also approved, giving the same grace period to paying the Use and Occupancy Tax, which is also based on assessments.

The bills now go to the full council.

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