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Council proposes extending tax break program to more homeowners

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Another amendment to LOOP

via Flickr/Michael Cramer

The number of homeowners who qualify for property tax breaks could increase next year, thanks to a new bill being considered by city council.

The bill, which was proposed by Council President Darrell Clarke and three other council members at Thursday’s weekly meeting would change the requirements for the Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP). Since 2014, LOOP has provided a tax abatement to homeowners who have lived in a place for 10 years and have seen their property taxes increase by 300 percent in one year.

Under the newly proposed bill, that increase would be lowered, meaning anyone who has seen their property taxes increase by 150 percent in the last year would be eligible for the tax abatement, as long as the meet the other LOOP requirements.

“It makes sense to offer LOOP to even more Philadelphians, particularly seniors on fixed incomes, who otherwise might be at risk of displacement or even homelessness,” Clarke said in a statement on the bill.

If it goes through, the bill would make LOOP accessible to 3,000 more households, according to the statement.

It’s not the first time this year that council members have considered significant amendments to LOOP. Originally, homeowners were only eligible for the program for ten years, and would stop receiving tax breaks once they hit that mark.

An amendment introduced by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and passed at an April meeting, erased that 10-year limit. Johnson is also a co-sponsor on this more recent bill, along with council members Mark Squilla and Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.

Both amendments to LOOP come after another significant moment in early April, when the Office of Property Assessment (OPA) released a shocking analysis of home values, saying the median home value had risen by 10.5 percent. With that increase comes a big bump in property taxes in neighborhoods across the city, something that had many residents outraged and prompted city council to call for an independent audit of OPA.

It seems that assessment in the spring did play some kind of role in the new bill; Squilla mentioned the “unpredictability of OPA’s assessments and the large jumps property owners have experienced in recent years,” in his support of the LOOP amendment.

“In Point Breeze, where the average rowhouse assessment increased 43 percent last year, you can imagine the latest LOOP amendment would open the program up to a lot of residents facing tax hardships who are just barely ineligible,” Johnson said.

  • Council members propose property tax relief expansion [City Council]
  • LOOP []
  • City Council passes bill to extend tax breaks for longtime homeowners [Curbed Philly]
  • Philly home values spike 10.5 percent in new property assessment [Curbed Philly]
  • Bill introduced to give City Council final say on property values [Curbed Philly]