On June 25, 2014, the City of Philadelphia passed an ordinance amending the rules on continuing real estate tax exemptions. Until that ordinance was passed, an exemption continued automatically from year to year.

What Does the Ordinance Passed by the City Require Now?

The ordinance requires that nonprofit holders of a real estate tax exemption “annually file with the Office of Property Assessment a sworn statement, in form satisfactory to the Chief Assessment Officer and accompanied by such documentation as may be necessary, certifying:

(A)   Its continued status as a purely public charity.

(B)   With respect to all property for which exemption is claimed, the uses to which the property is put and how those uses further the purpose or purposes which entitle the entity to the exemption.

(C)   The portion of exempt property used for such purposes.”

How Does the Ordinance Affect Nonprofits?

In January the Office of Property Assessment sent letters notifying exempt property owners of the ordinance, and included a 2-page form. The first page is consistent with the ordinance. It asks a few, easy-to-answer questions that reflect the information covered in the ordinance. The second page provides a signature line, among other things, but it was not created for the extension of the exemption.  It is simply the second page of the form still required for filing an initial application for exemption.   The second page is inconsistent with the first page. It refers to a different date for filing, and enumerates much more paperwork than the ordinance mentions.

If you have any questions about the form sent to you and preserving a real estate tax exemption, call Bernie Kolodner, Practice Leader of Kleinbard’s Real Estate Group, at 215.496.7226.