Philadelphia will not reassess properties next year due to operational limitations amid the coronavirus pandemic, city officials announced Wednesday.
That means that most property owners will keep their current assessments — and property tax bills, if the city’s tax rate remains the same.
Citywide reassessments completed in 2018 and 2019 sparked complaints from residents and criticism from City Council after thousands of property owners received substantial tax hikes as a result.
The city did not complete a revaluation this year; officials said they were instead focused on implementing a long-awaited technology project known as Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA). Training on that system has been delayed due to the pandemic, city officials said Wednesday. As employees of the Office of Property Assessment worked remotely, other work necessary for a revaluation was also delayed.
“I’m certain that opting to leave property values at current levels is the prudent action in light of a whole host of factors,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “It will allow operations that are currently delayed to catch up, and will allow the OPA to ready the new CAMA system for a full reassessment next year — by which point I sincerely hope we will be past the effects of COVID-19.”
Properties that have new construction, expiring abatements, renovations, subdivisions, or consolidations — or errors in prior assessments — will still be reassessed. Those property owners will receive notice of their assessments by March 31, and their new values will take effect for taxes in 2022.
While the city’s property tax rate has not changed in the last few years, some property owners have had significant tax increases due to changing assessments. Kenney proposed a property tax hike in May to help fund schools. The proposal was met with resistance from City Council, and Kenney withdrew it after additional state funding was made available for the School District.
The median value of a single-family home in the city increased 10.5% in 2019, resulting in tax hikes for hundreds of thousands of homeowners. The median value climbed by an additional 3.1% under the 2020 assessments. An independent audit commissioned by City Council and released last year found flaws in the city’s assessing practices. The Kenney administration defended its practices but hired a consultant to recommend improvements.
Kenney said the next citywide reassessment will be completed in 2022 and will take effect for tax bills in 2023.
“We owe it to taxpayers to ensure we are making property assessments as accurate as possible,” Kenney said, “and this decision will help OPA accomplish that.”