Philadelphia launches first tax amnesty program in more than two decades

For the first time since 1986, Philadelphia is offering individuals and businesses delinquent in paying city taxes an opportunity to settle up on what they owe.

The city has tax delinquents in almost all of the 50 states with the highest concentration in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida. While not a free pass, those who participate in, and qualify for, the Philadelphia Tax Amnesty program will have all of their tax penalties waived, as well as pay only half the interest owed. However, time is of the essence, as the Philadelphia tax amnesty period is only available for 54 days, May 3 to June 25, 2010.

“First and foremost, the city of Philadelphia thanks all of the responsible citizens who have been diligent in paying their taxes. And now is the time for us to also embrace those who have struggled to do their part in the past, by creating a solution that works for all of us,” said Michael A. Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, in a prepared statement. “We are at a pivotal point as the economy begins to make its slow turnaround. The Philadelphia Tax Amnesty Program is our chance to come together in a time of common need, for the common good.”

The city is implementing an aggressive strategy to embrace as many individuals and businesses as possible with the opportunities of the tax amnesty program, as well as motivate them to take immediate action. Included in the outreach will be displays of numerous real and virtual Philadelphia Tax Amnesty count-down clocks to remind people of the urgency and help assure they take action before it’s too late.

“The Philadelphia Tax Amnesty offers great benefits to those who owe money, but people need to step up and take immediate action to reap them,” said Joan Krajewski, Philadelphia councilwoman.

In addition to generating awareness and participation, the city is taking special steps to help ensure that all qualified candidates for Philadelphia tax amnesty understand the program, as well as what they need to do to fully benefit from what is being offered.

“As with any tax process, the Philadelphia tax amnesty entails many specifications that must be understood and followed,” said Keith Richardson, M.B.A., commissioner of Philadelphia’s department of revenue.

Those who do not participate and settle up back taxes before the end of the amnesty period will have their tax debts turned over to lawyers or a third-party collection agency for further action, may be charged new penalties, including fines of up to $5,000, and may be subject to lawsuits and other actions allowed by law, including the seizure and sale of property.

Further details on Philadelphia Tax Amnesty, including what taxes are included and how to participate are available by calling (877) 645-4108 or online at www.PhillyTaxAmnesty.com. Participants can apply and pay online or over the phone. Taxpayers also can visit the program Walk-in Site between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, located in Center City Philadelphia, at 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 1300, where they can complete the tax amnesty application, make payments, and get assistance in filing back tax returns.

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