Understanding Property Taxes in Philadelphia

The information on this webpage was published by the City of Philadelphia to help homeowners looking for assistance with with paying their real estate taxes. This webpage covers information important to understanding property taxes in Philadelphia. You can find a list of real estate tax assistance programs here

1. The Basics

  • Property taxes are assessed and collected by the City of Philadelphia and on behalf of the School District of Philadelphia.
  • Your tax dollars provide funding for education, public health care, police protection, fire protection, streets & drainage, court systems, libraries, programs for the handicapped and senior citizens, and many other services.
  • Property tax assessments are based on the value of the property.
  • Generally, all property is taxable unless a federal or state law provides an exemption for it. Property may include land, buildings, mobile homes, and houses.
  • Real Estate taxes are due once a year, on March 31st of the tax year. If the taxes are not paid by March 31st of the tax year, a penalty charge called “additions” will accrue on the principal amount of the tax up to a maximum charge of 15% of the principal amount due. If the taxes remain unpaid after December 31st of the tax year, the 15% addition is added into the principal and tax liens are filed against the property. Penalties and interest, as well as attorneys’ fees, continue to accrue until the tax is paid.
  • To pay your taxes or discuss your tax account, contact: 
    • City of Philadelphia Revenue Department
      Public Service Concourse - Taxpayer Services Division
      1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd
      Philadelphia, PA 19102 Phone
      (215) 686-6442 | E-mail: revenue@phila.gov
  • For help with a payment plan, you can also call any Housing Counseling Agency or the Save Your Home Philly Hotline.

2. Pay Your Taxes Now To Avoid a Possible Lawsuit

If the Taxpayer does not make arrangements to pay the taxes now, he or she may be sued. Court costs are expensive. A property owner may be responsible not only for the taxes, interest and penalty, but also for other foreclosure expenses including:

  • Abstractor/Title Work Fees
  • Sheriff’s Fees
  • Property Inspection Costs
  • Court Filing Fees
  • Publication/Advertising Fees
  • Deed Recording Fees
  • Service of Process Fees
  • Attorneys’ Fees
  • Environmental Assessment Fees

3. Other Frequently Asked Questions

What if I cannot afford to pay my taxes? Payment plans are available. If you qualify under the City of Philadelphia’s guidelines you may be eligible for an “Owner Occupied Payment Agreement.” Applications are available on the City of Philadelphia Revenue Department’s website at www.phila.gov/revenue. You can also request an application in person or by phone per the contact information listed above.

What if I never received a tax bill? It is the Taxpayer’s responsibility to know that taxes are due every year. If a tax bill was not received, it does not change the Taxpayer’s responsibility to request a tax bill from the City of Philadelphia Revenue Department and to make sure that the mailing address the City has for the Taxpayer is correct. The City of Philadelphia Revenue Department is not required by law to send real estate tax bills.

What if I already paid my taxes? Mail a copy of your paid receipt and/or cancelled check to the City of Philadelphia Revenue Department, P.O. Box 806, Philadelphia, PA 19101.

What if my taxes were supposed to be paid by my mortgage company? The Taxpayer should pay the delinquent tax and contact the mortgage company for reimbursement. It is the Taxpayer’s responsibility to pay the taxes even if the mortgage company does not pay the taxes.

What if I receive a tax bill for the taxes incurred after I sold the property? Notify the Department of Revenue of the date ownership changed so that the ownership change can be verified with the City of Philadelphia Department of Records.

What if I have filed bankruptcy and still owe delinquent taxes? Send a copy of the Bankruptcy Petition to the City of Philadelphia Law Department at 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102.

How do I get an exemption? In order to be considered for an exemption, the Taxpayer must fill out an application at the Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment. Applications are available on-line at www.phila.gov/opa.

“Tax Lien Sale” vs. City Accounts—what is the difference? In 1997 the City and School District of Philadelphia sold certain tax claims to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) which engaged U.S. Bank, N.A., as trustee and Linebarger as the servicer to collect the taxes. The collection of the taxes for these accounts no longer proceeds according to the exclusive direction of the City of Philadelphia.

4. The Foreclosure Lawsuit & Sheriff’s Sale Process

All Taxpayers with a recorded legal interest in a property must be served with all foreclosure legal documents. If the taxes are not paid a lawsuit may be filed to foreclose the tax lien of the property to pay the property taxes. As a last resort if property taxes remain unpaid, tax delinquent properties can be sold to the highest bidder at monthly Sheriff’s Sales. Sales are held at 3801 Market Street, First District Plaza, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Only continuously occupied residential properties are eligible for right of redemption, in which the original owner may petition the Court to recover the property by paying the back taxes. The right of redemption exists for nine months after the new owner’s Sheriff’s Deed is recorded.

5. Payment Plan Agreements

Taxpayers who cannot pay the delinquent taxes immediately may qualify for payment plans to pay their delinquent taxes in installments. Proof of identity is required.

Taxpayers that reside in their homes and are experiencing financial hardships (e.g. those with SSI, Social Security, or public assistance), may qualify for Owner Occupied Payment Agreements under the following conditions:

  • Proof of Identity: Valid government-issued photo identifications (driver’s license, passport, etc.) for each household member.
  • Proof of Income: income tax returns, pay stubs, unemployment compensation award letter or statement, worker’s compensation award letter or statement, court support order, SS or SSI award letter or printout, pension income statement, welfare determination letter or caseworker statement, and/or a signed and dated letter from individual providing support.
  • Proof of Expenses (not required in all cases): Mortgage, gas bills, electric bills, oil bills, rent payments, telephone bills, transportation costs, medical bills, child support payments, and any other expenses.