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Lawsuit seeking reform of Philadelphia assessment, tax system dismissed

10/14/2011 | Real Estate Blog

A lawsuit brought against the City of Philadelphia with the goal of forcing a reform of the city’s property assessment and tax system was been dismissed earlier this week.

Mayor Nutter apparently acknowledges that the property assessment and tax system needs to be fixed, and the system is currently going through a reassessment that will fix a market-rate actual value on properties within the city. But activists are reportedly afraid the effort, like others before it, will fail as it is assailed by criticism of voters who will have to pay higher taxes.

The lawsuit had requested that the court order the city to conduct a reassessment and reform the system, and to bring a stop to a 10 percent tax increase passed just last year, as well as to set limits on future tax increases. The case was apparently thrown out because the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the suit.

Under the current tax system, homeowners often pay significantly different taxes for similar types of property. In addition, there are many properties that are incorrectly assessed. According to the Inquirer, over 97 percent of city properties in 2008 were incorrectly assessed. To address the problem, Mayor Nutter froze reassessments on most properties in the city last year. New assessments are supposed to be applied by next fall.

According to Brett Mandel, lead plaintiff in the recently dismissed suit, he and the 17 other plaintiffs would be meetings with their attorneys to determine how to proceed from here.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Judge dismisses lawsuit attacking Phila.’s property assessment, tax system,” Troy Graham, October 11, 2011.