City Hall Aims to Punish Loyal Philly Homeowners

When AVI chases away lifelong residents, maybe Mayor Nutter can tax squatters.

2013, big deal. Anything to look forward to? I don’t think so. In fact, I think the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket. I’ve had it with all the bozos in Washington who can’t work together without their next campaign in mind, and I’m fed up with our local government too. It’s clear that Michael Nutter and City Council are on board with the pervasive theme—generated by the first four years of the most divisive presidency I’ve ever seen—of class warfare. To see it any other way is justification babble.

The Fiscal Cliff fiasco aside, let’s focus on our own homegrown insanity, the “AVI tax.” The Actual Value Initiative is Nutter’s answer to a grossly failing school system and burdens hard-working homeowners and business owners. As I understand it (I’m sure someone will correct me, but I’ll do my best here), AVI replaces a system that taxed real estate as a percentage of assessed value to one that taxes on real value which, I guess, means what you could sell your property for if you wanted to, which you most likely don’t.

A home that was taxed at an assessed value could easily see its tax burden increase by 300 percent or 400 percent, especially one where the homeowner has been there a long while and has improved the house. Does this make any sense to anyone? A tax increase so overwhelming that loyal lifelong Philadelphians are forced to sell their homes and leave the city?

And, by the way, those houses will be less saleable because of the tax increase, and if homes go unsold, inventory will increase, and the anemic housing market will take a hit, reducing the amount of transfer tax the city receives.

Apartment-building owners are in the same boat. The only way to cover the enormous tax increase is to either pass along the burden by substantially raising rent (impossible in these dismal economic times) or sell. That’s right, let’s just turn the commercial climate into a doomsday environment to match the residential calamity. How’s 2013 looking now?

I suppose all of this would make sense if you were heartless enough to only look at the money side of it, but even that doesn’t wash in these less-than-booming times. Real-estate owners, both residential and commercial, will default and buildings will not sell to folks with deeper pockets but will glut the market and stand vacant. Nutter ought to figure out a way to tax squatters—maybe they’d contribute to the city coffers.

From Washington D.C. to Broad and Market, the class warfare continues: Tax the hard-working American to pour money down an endless black hole of spending.

Happy New Year.