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Beginning this week, several hundred thousand Philadelphia homeowners will be getting a big surprise in the mail – their property tax bill for 2013.

It won’t look anything like previous bills.

This bill will mark the first time taxes will be based on the full value of property as determined by the massive citywide assessment known as AVI.

The AVI process, which involved the reassessment all 579,000 residential, commercial and industrial properties in the city, was the subject of much media coverage – not to mention great public debate – all year.

Still, many folks tuned out.

When pollsters from Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative asked city residents about AVI this fall, 48 percent of them said they had never heard or read anything about it. So, the “Say What?” factor is likely to be high when they open those bills and find a whole new set of numbers.

If you are interested in finding out what your tax bill will be – or that of any other property in the city – we have an interactive map that can tell you the figure down to the penny.  You can either place the cursor or your property or type in your address in the search field to find it.

For starters, you are likely to see the assessed value of your property is much higher than ever before.  This is because it is now based on market value, as opposed to a fraction of that value. For another, the bottom line may be different.

For those homeowners whose properties have increased dramatically in value since the last time the city reassessed, their tax bills will be higher – sometimes much higher. Under the simplified AVI system, property is taxed at 1.34 percent of its value.

If a house is assessed at $200,000, for instance, the tax bill will be $200,000 x 1.34% = $2,680. For those who took advantage of a $30,000 ‘homestead’ exemption offered by the city, their bill will be $200,000-$30,000 = $170,000 x 1.34% = $2,278.

For most homeowners, though, AVI ended up being  much storm and fury signifying nothing.  Yes, their assessed values will be different – and are supposed to reflect market value – but their tax bills won’t change much at all.

An analysis done earlier this year for City Council showed that of the 471,000 residential properties in the city, 45 percent would see no increase in taxes and 22 percent would see a tax increase of $200 or less. Only seven percent would see increase of $1,000 or more. What happens if you get a bill and want to contest it?

Sorry, it is too late to do anything about it.  Under AVI, property owners who disagreed with their assessment had the right to contest it with the Office of Property Assessment, but the deadline for that appeal is long past.

For those unhappy with the OPA ruling, or those who decided to sidestep the initial appeal, they had a right to file with the Board of Revision of Taxes.  However, the deadline for filing that appeal was Oct. 7.

According to Claire Pagan of the BRT, her agency received 23,000 appeals in total.  The BRT is due to begin hearings on them after January 1.

The deadline for payment of the 2013 bill is March 31.

This week, the Nutter administration did roll out a program to help some homeowners in gentrified areas. Called the Longtime Owner Occupants Program — with the acronym LOOP — it offers tax abatements to long-time homeowners who meet the income criteria.  Click here for more information on the program.  Act quickly if you believe you are eligible, the deadline for applying for LOOP is Jan. 15.


— Tom Ferrick