Two bills – one that would extend the deadline by six weeks to apply for the homestead exemption, and one that would allow people to apply for the exemption if they buy houses in the last quarter of the year – passed City Council unanimously Thursday.
An estimated 340,000 homeowners are eligible for the exemption, which deducts a set amount from a property's assessment before the tax rate is applied.
Mayor Nutter has backed a $15,000 exemption, while current law allows Council to set the exemption at $30,000. The exemption will be finalized as Council works on passing a budget by June 30.
Council and the administration want as many homeowners to take advantage of the tax break as possible. In some areas of the city, the exemption could mean the difference between a higher and a lower tax bill, as the city moves to a new property tax system this year.
The deadline to apply is currently July 31. One of the bills passed Thursday, sponsored by Council President Darrell L. Clarke, would extend the deadline to Sept. 13.
The second bill, whose main sponsor was Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, would give people who buy homes within 30 days of Sept. 13 and after the deadline the chance to apply for the exemption. An application would have to be completed within 30 days of the sale and received by the city no later than Dec. 1.
If the Department of Revenue could not process the application before the tax bills are mailed at the end of November, the city would issue a rebate for the difference.
The Nutter administration supported both bills, and the mayor is expected to sign them.