Hey Wesley. You’ve Gotta Hear This! by Harper Dimmerman
An Inquirer article caught my astigmatic eye while I was news surfing on philly.com a few weeks ago. Great site because it gives you the option of real news and smut, all in one nifty little url. As it turns out, this particular piece addressed the latest plight of the city's ultra wealthy, property reassessments. Boo Hoo. First of all, I love hearing the lamentable tales of the rich. Plus taxes of all shapes and sizes, especially the BPT, are so near and dear to my heart. My curiosity had been piqued.
Before we get to talk of reassessment though, let's talk turkey. For the 2007 fiscal year, real estate taxes comprised the second largest source of revenue for the city, second only to wage and net profit taxes and weighing in at a whopping 408 million bucks. Now that's a whole lot of tax. Not enough though, some might say. It certainly wasn't enough to make a dent in the war against crime in this lawless city (you criminal defense lawyers know what I'm talkin' about). At about this same time last year, our murder rate was higher than New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. That's a staggering statistic. And I definitely think Mayor Nutter was onto something with his gun law. If anyone can put things back on track, I reckon it would be him.
So it's no secret that the Board of Revision of Taxes is poised to shake that money tree even harder over the next few years. They particularly like the pines, spruces and locusts. Get with the times BRT. Take South Jersey for instance. Rumor has it that some Haddonfield dwellers, for instance, have been known to fork over 15k, even 20k a year in property taxes. Now that's a whole lot of quaint. So to all you Philadelphia homeowners out there, take heed. Beware of tax hikes. Did I say all of us? Actually I meant to say, to all of you who are living large. And you know exactly who you are.
If you've been living in a Rittenhouse Square mansion for the past twenty years or so, munching on foie gras (do you munch on that stuff?) and pretending your property tax bill is hefty, be afraid, be very afraid. The BRT thinks you've been getting off way too easy. Thanks to the likes of Vince Fumo, the city's super wealthy are officially on the BRT's radar, and not in a good way. Hone in on the rich. Let them take the proverbial first shot.
And now for the data. Us lawyers love data. Some 54 homes in the city were just reassessed, sort of spot taxation, if you will. One of them is the $3 million home of the late novelist Pearl S. Buck. The owners of that little Delancey Place number saw a 28 percent tax hike. I'm ashamed to say that I practically grew up in town and had never even heard of Ms. Buck. At any rate, kudos Ms. Buck. You obviously did quite nicely for yourself. I also had no idea that the heir to the Tylenol fortune was living right here in the city of brotherly love. Mr. McNeill just got the dizzying news that the taxes on his $11 million Rittenhouse Square mansion were going up by 108 percent. Talk about getting a dose of his own (actually daddy's) medicine. And to see someone related to the world of pharmaceuticals suffer...
And then of course there's Mr. Fumo. His 27 room (let me repeat that – 27 room) Green Street mansion was the proud recipient of the largest tax hike on the BRT's most recent hit list. Apparently his tax bill will almost quadruple from a measly $6,611 to $25,201 next year. There are those republicans out there who might even say he deserved every red cent of it. Did he really though? I must admit that the prospect of the richest property owners finally paying their fair share excites me. And I believe that under this administration, those revenues will finally be put to good use. Who knows? Our haggard infrastructure and ailing public school system, amongst other things, might actually get a fighting chance.