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City to Seize Rents Generated by Tax Delinquent Properties

Though the city's tax delinquency rate continues to grow, it's growing slower. And here in Philly, that represents serious progress. In a special report, Plan Philly finds that not only is city government taking responsibility for the delinquency crisis, it's also beefing up enforcement measures meant to collect the revenue that the city desperately needs.

One explanation for the recent small measure of progress toward a delinquency-free Philadelphia might be the new Revenue Commissioner, who explains her role in very concrete, clear terms: "We're here to do something that's quite simple and basic. Increase our collections and decrease our delinquency. If I don't produce improved collections then I've not done what I need to do."

Small improvements aside, it looks like the city of Philadelphia might finally crack down on tax delinquency by making it more costly: next month, the city will revisit a little used enforcement measure known as Sequestration. Sequestration allows the city to seize rent and other revenue tax delinquent property owners make on their tax delinquent properties.

The city has also begun to revoke Commercial Activity Licenses, which are required to operate businesses, including rental businesses, in Philadelphia. The city is also considering towing and booting the cars of tax delinquents.

There's also a new ordinance coming into effect in a month and a half which makes payment plans for tax delinquent property owners more straightforward, and creates guidelines for income-based tax payment plans for tax delinquent property owners who live in their properties. The ordinance also pushes the city to actually follow through on enforcement measures (including taking properties to Sheriff's Sale).

Though the growth of the delinquent tax pool has slowed, it's still growing: new policies and leadership are positive signals that the city is starting to effectively address its problems with tax collection, but it's just a start.
· Special report: Signs of progress amid delinquency crisis [Plan Philly]