By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today brings an important deadline in Philadelphia: it’s the last day homeowners can file for a formal appeal of their new property assessments.
But confusion reigns, because thousands of informal reviews of the new values are not complete.
The close of business today is the deadline to appeal your assessment to the Board of Revision of Taxes, the BRT.
The problem is, the separate Office of Property Assessment, or OPA, is still conducting what are called first level reviews.
Councilman Bill Greenlee says this has caused confusion, “a lot of people, when you say BRT and OPA, it’s just alphabet soup to them. They don’t understand the difference. All they know is they think their assessment is too high and they want to fight it.”
His colleague, councilman Bill Green, believes the confusion is damaging, “there has been a lot of messaging by the city. I don’t think that we’ve made the deadlines particularly clear, and the different ways of appeal may have done more harm than good in terms of people understanding their rights.”
So officials are trying to make clear that even if you have a pending first-level review, you should still file for a formal BRT appeal if you don’t like your property value.
The appeal form can be found at phila.gov/brt, and it needs to be postmarked by midnight tonight for it to be accepted.
Today’s deadline is set by state law, but the law does allow for extensions under extraordinary circumstances.
A source close to the BRT tells KYW Newsradio that the board is looking closely at the fairness of the situation, given that the first-level reviews are not complete, and examining possible remedies.
The Nutter Administration says that as of October 4th the OPA had completed 32,400 reviews, and about 17,000 were still being processed.
The BRT, meantime, had received only about 5,000 requests for formal appeals by last Friday, far less than had been expected, giving credence to those who believe many residents are confusing the two types of appeals.
The BRT is not expected to actually begin hearing appeals until next year.
The assessments, created under the new system dubbed “Actual Value Initiative,” will affect property tax bills that are due next February.