§ 19-1305.  Authorization for Installment Payment Agreements and Tax Foreclosure Prevention Programs, Waiving Additions to Tax and Abating Interest and Penalties Otherwise Due Pursuant to Section 19-1303, and Requiring Commencement of Enforcement Action. 227
   (1)   Definitions. 228 As used in this Section:
      (a)   Income means all regular and periodic income from whatever source derived, including but not limited to salaries, wages, income from self-employment, alimony, support money, cash public assistance and relief, the net amount of any pensions or annuities including railroad retirement benefits, all benefits received under the Federal Social Security Act (except Medicare benefits), all benefits received under State employment insurance laws and veterans' disability payments, all interest received from the Federal or any State government, or any instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, net income from rentals, workmen's compensation, interest and dividends, and any regular and periodic monetary contributions from a non-household member. Income shall not include overtime; back pay; severance pay; bonuses; tuition reimbursements; loan disbursals; federal or state income tax refunds; lump sum payments of benefits such as loss of time insurance benefits, death benefits, life insurance benefits and other insurance proceeds; Supplemental Nutrition Access Program ("SNAP") benefits or any other form of surplus food or other relief in kind supplied by a governmental agency; or property tax rebate.
      (b)   Total Household Income means all income received by the taxpayer and members of his or her household while residing in the homestead.
      (c)   Homestead means a dwelling used as a home, occupied by a taxpayer. A homestead shall also include mobile homes which are assessed as realty for local property tax purposes and the land upon which the mobile home is situated and other similar living accommodations, as well as a part of a multi-dwelling or multi-purpose building and a part of the land upon which it is built to the extent that the eligible taxpayer is chargeable by the City for property taxes. It shall also include premises occupied by an eligible taxpayer if he is required "by law" to pay a property tax by reason of his ownership or rental (including a possessory interest) in the dwelling, the land, or both; provided that the term "by law" shall not be deemed to include a contractual obligation between the eligible taxpayer and a person who would otherwise be responsible to the City for the payment of the tax.
      (d)   Department shall mean the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, its officers, agents and employees. The term shall also include co-counsel or other entities hired or retained by the City of Philadelphia to collect property taxes owed to the City of Philadelphia. The term shall also include the Law Department or any other department or office of the City of Philadelphia, its officers, agents and employees to the extent that it is engaged or involved in the collection of property taxes covered by this Act.
      (e)   Owner shall mean both (a) an owner of record, as recorded with the Department of Records, and (b) an equitable owner, defined as a person who can demonstrate an ownership interest in a property as provided by law. An equitable owner includes, but is not limited to: a person who has inherited an interest in a property; a person who has entered into a contract to purchase a property; and a person who was the owner of record before a fraudulent conveyance of the property. The term "owner" shall also include a person who is a trust beneficiary and a person holding a partial ownership interest in a property such as tenancy by the entireties, joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and life estate.
      (f)   Tax liabilities shall mean both property taxes which are delinquent and property taxes which are currently due but not yet delinquent, including but not limited to associated attorneys' fees, eligible expenses, interest and penalties as allowed by law.
      (g)   Senior citizen means a taxpayer who is sixty-five years of age or over, or whose spouse, if a member of the household, is sixty-five years of age or over, during a calendar year in which real property taxes are due and payable.
   (2)   Authorization for Installment Payments and Tax Foreclosure Prevention Programs; Waiver of Additions to Tax; Abatement of Interest and Penalties and Requiring Commencement of Enforcement Action. 229
      (a)   Universal Applicability. This Chapter, and all regulations and policies adopted pursuant to it, shall apply equally to the Department of Revenue, the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Tax Review Board, any other department, agency, office or employee of the City seeking to enforce or collect property taxes, and all co-counsel or other businesses or parties hired or retained by the City to collect property taxes.
      (b)   Warning of Risk of Tax Foreclosure Action.
         (.1)   First Notice. Should a taxpayer not remit payment for current year real estate tax liabilities or enter into a payment agreement by March 31st of such tax year, within sixty (60) days the Department shall send the taxpayer a Warning of Risk of Tax Foreclosure Action containing the following information:
            (.a)   a brief description of any possible legal action and its consequences, including a clear and conspicuous statement that the taxpayer will become in danger of losing his or her home or property if he or she does not act; as to homestead properties, a statement of the right of the taxpayer to enter into an income-based payment agreement for all real estate tax liabilities on the taxpayer's homestead property, the availability of the free assistance of a housing counselor, and the right to apply for tax payment deferral for financial hardships as provided in this Section 19-1305 and in Section 19-1307; as to non-homestead properties, a statement of the right of the taxpayer to request consideration for a payment agreement for all real estate tax liabilities on the taxpayer's non- homestead property; a brief description of the available payment agreements, the steps the taxpayer must take to enter into such an agreement, and the deadline for doing so; and a brief description of any non-principal additions, charges, fees, penalties, or interest that may be imposed if the real estate tax liabilities remain outstanding; 230
            (.b)   the amount of current year real estate tax liability;
            (.c)   the amount of any prior year real estate tax liability, specifically indicating the amounts of such prior year liability that are principal, interest, penalty, and attorney's fees as well as any other amounts or fees;
            (.d)   the total amount required to pay off the tax liability in full, the date by which it must be paid, the addresses where payments can be made, and accepted forms of payment;
            (.e)   a statement explaining the types of other City-related debt that may be capable of being liened against a property including, without limitation, water and sewer rent, nuisance and demolition fees and fines, and a brief explanation of how the taxpayer may request confirmation as to the existence and amounts of any such debt;
            (.f)   brief, accurate information about available assistance programs including homestead exclusions, tax rebates, tax relief, and tax deferrals for homestead properties; and 231
            (.g)   lists of the free housing counseling agencies and the legal services agencies that have been trained in assisting with delinquent real estate tax matters related to homesteads and may be available to assist the taxpayer, including addresses and phone numbers.
         (.2)   Second Notice. Should a taxpayer not respond to such Notice of Risk of Foreclosure Action within ninety (90) days of the date of the notice, the Department shall send a second notice containing the same information required under subsection (.1) and any updates thereto, and a warning that the City may commence foreclosure proceedings against the taxpayer should he or she not pay the outstanding real estate tax liabilities or enter into a payment agreement or tax payment deferral program by December 31 of such year. 232
      (c)   Information for Taxpayers.
         (.1)   When a taxpayer contacts the Department regarding real estate tax liabilities the Department shall ask if the property is the taxpayer's residence, and shall provide the following information:
            (.a)   If the taxpayer claims to reside in the property, the Department shall inform the taxpayer of the steps to apply for homestead recognition, the right to an income-based payment agreement for homestead properties and the steps to apply for such payment agreements, and the availability of free advice and assistance from housing counseling agencies and legal services agencies for taxpayers who are eligible. The Department shall also provide written information regarding the payment agreement options for homesteads, as well as a list, including addresses and phone numbers, of housing counseling agencies and legal service agencies available to assist the taxpayer.
            (.b)   If the taxpayer claims not to reside in the property, the Department shall inform the taxpayer of the right to request consideration for a payment agreement and the steps to apply for consideration for such payment agreements.
         (.2)   Information Available Online. The Department shall clearly and conspicuously post information regarding the available payment agreements, hardship deferrals, and assistance programs on its website. Such information shall summarize the program and terms of the agreements and the eligibility requirements. It shall include a question-and-answer section as well as application forms, sample agreements, and copies of all notices provided for in this Chapter. The Department's website shall also clearly and conspicuously post contact information, including addresses and phone numbers, for housing counseling agencies and legal service agencies that may be available to advise or assist eligible taxpayers. 233
         (.3)   Language Access/Non-English Speakers. Consistent with applicable law and policy, the Department shall take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to payment agreements for Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons. Such steps shall include providing copies of all vital documents in English and Spanish, both on-site and on-line translations of all vital documents, including notices and agreements, as well as providing translated "taglines" on all English language notices, and advising LEP persons that telephone interpreter services are available at the Department.
         (.4)   In-Person Meeting. A taxpayer seeking to enter into a payment agreement related to real estate tax liabilities on his or her primary residence shall, unless such taxpayer elects otherwise, be entitled to an in-person meeting with the Department within 30 days of such request for the purpose of evaluating the taxpayer's payment agreement options, and be offered the assistance of an independent housing counselor. In addition, the Department may also appoint an attorney, or interpreter to assist the taxpayer in such a meeting. The appointed housing counselor shall assist in arriving at a financially reasonable payment plan for the taxpayer. 234
      (d)   Homestead Payment Agreements. Payment agreements with taxpayers are authorized for all amounts due on real estate tax liabilities on the homesteads of taxpayers, subject to the following terms and conditions:
         (.1)   Eligibility. Eligibility for a payment agreement under this Section and for placement in any particular Tier under this Section, shall be understood in all cases to require showing of financial hardship or inability to pay, based on individual circumstances. Taxpayers may be required to demonstrate proof of ownership including equitable ownership, residency, and up to two months of household income in order to be found eligible for a homestead payment agreement, provided however that a taxpayer shall not be required to liquidate any assets, including other real property, in order to qualify for a homestead payment agreement. The Department shall promulgate a list of documents that shall be accepted as proof for the purposes of this Section. The Department may also request a taxpayer's most recent federal tax return if applicable and, for good cause, such additional information as may be necessary to determine eligibility.
            (.a)   Eligibility for Equitable Owners. Taxpayers who are equitable owners may qualify for payment agreements, provided that the Department may discontinue such agreements after three years if it determines that the taxpayer has not made a good faith effort to obtain record title to the property covered by the agreement. The Department shall notify the taxpayer in writing of this obligation to seek title at the time of the signing of the agreement.
            (.b)   The Department may deny a taxpayer's eligibility for a payment agreement for good cause, provided that such denial may be appealed pursuant to subsection (5)(a) of this Section. A taxpayer who is otherwise eligible for a payment agreement under this Section shall not be denied a payment agreement based on the taxpayer's default or failure to comply with a payment agreement executed prior to the effective date of this Section.
         (.2)   Payment agreements shall provide for payment of one hundred percent (100%) of all tax liabilities, including capitalized additions, owing through the date of the agreement or March 31 of the year of the agreement, whichever is later, less any waiver of interest or penalties as provided in subsection (.6), 235 below.
            (.a)   The Department shall provide an opportunity for taxpayers entering into payment agreements to apply for the following programs: Homestead exclusion, pursuant to subsection 19-1301.1(4)(a)(.3); Deferral, pursuant to Section 19-1307; Longtime Owner-Occupant Exemption pursuant to subsection 19-3905(3)(a); 236 and Senior Citizen Low Income Special Tax Provisions pursuant to subsection 19-2904(1)(a). 237 The housing counselor shall assist the taxpayer in applying for the aforementioned programs. If a taxpayer is approved for any of these programs and such approval results in the reduction of the taxpayer's total tax liabilities, within thirty (30) days of such approval the Department shall adjust the total amount due under the payment agreement as well as the monthly payment amounts, and shall provide to the taxpayer prompt notice of any adjustments. In negotiating settlements with delinquent taxpayers, the Department may consider the taxpayer's eligibility for relief for which he or she failed to apply. 238
         (.3)   Monthly Payments Based on Income. Monthly payment amounts due pursuant to homestead payment agreements shall be based upon the taxpayer's monthly household income as a percentage of Area Median Income as determined annually by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, as follows, and shall not require initial lump sum payments or down payments unless elected by the taxpayer:
            (.a)   Tier 1. For taxpayers with monthly household income above seventy percent (70%) of Area Median Income, payment agreements shall be made available at the discretion of the Department, provided that the Department shall take into consideration evidence of financial hardship submitted to it by the taxpayer.
            (.b)   Tier 2. For taxpayers with monthly household income ranging from greater than fifty percent (50%) up to and including seventy percent (70%) of Area Median Income, payments shall equal ten percent (10%) of such monthly household income;
            (.c)   Tier 3. For taxpayers with monthly household income ranging from greater than thirty percent (30%) up to and including fifty percent (50%) of Area Median Income, payments shall equal eight percent (8%) of such monthly household income;
            (.d)   Tier 4. For taxpayers with monthly household income at or below thirty percent (30%) of Area Median Income, payments shall equal five percent (5%) of such monthly household income, provided that twenty-five dollars ($25) is the minimum monthly payment;
            (.e)   Individualized Consideration of Hardship and Financial Incapacity. Taxpayers may request an individual financial assessment comparing household income and expenses, and shall be considered for the following relief: 239
               (i)   Where the taxpayer meets the criteria under subsection (.b) ("Tier 2"), (.c) ("Tier 3"), or (.d) ("Tier 4"), but the minimum monthly payment would, based on the individualized financial assessment, present a hardship to the taxpayer, the Department may allow the taxpayer to elect an alternative payment amount provided that twenty-five dollars ($25) is the minimum monthly payment.
               (ii)   Where the Department finds that a taxpayer in any Tier, based on the individualized financial assessment, lacks the ability to make a regular monthly payment of any amount, the Department may allow the taxpayer to elect an agreement with no minimum monthly payment.
         (.4)   Payment Agreements for Current Real Estate Tax Liabilities. Payment agreements for current year real estate tax liabilities are specially authorized for taxpayers who are senior citizens, taxpayers with monthly income up to and including fifty percent (50%) of Area Median Income, and taxpayers who demonstrate hardship, for a term not to extend beyond December 31 of the tax year, except that a longer term may be granted at the discretion of the Department. Notwithstanding any provision of this Title to the contrary, for applications received no later than the 31st day of March of the year in which the tax is due and payable, the Department of Revenue shall waive any additions to a current tax liability due on the homestead of a taxpayer who enters an into a payment agreement pursuant to this subsection, provided that the terms of the agreement are fully complied with by the taxpayer. Notwithstanding any provision of this Title to the contrary, any interest and penalties related to current year tax liabilities which shall accrue or become due and payable by any taxpayer shall be abated upon successful completion of a payment agreement entered into pursuant to this subsection. 240
         (.5)   Senior citizens and people with disabilities age 18 and older who are eligible for the Pennsylvania Senior Citizen Real Property Tax Rebate ("the rebate") shall be permitted to voluntarily assign the rebate they are entitled to receive to the Department to be credited against their property tax liabilities. The Department shall promulgate such regulations, rules, written policies, forms and other documentation deemed necessary to enable the assignment of such rebates to the Department.
         (.6)   Completion of Agreements; Forgiveness.
            (.a)   A payment agreement shall be considered completed upon payment of all tax liabilities, as provided in subsection (.3), above, less a waiver of interest or penalties, as follows:
               (i)   For taxpayers in Tier 1, no waiver of interest or penalties accrued as of the date of the agreement.
               (ii)   For taxpayers in Tier 2, waiver of one hundred percent (100%) of penalties accrued as of the date of the agreement.
               (iii)   For taxpayers in Tier 3, waiver of one hundred percent (100%) of penalties and fifty percent (50%) of all interest accrued as of the date of the agreement.
               (iv)   For taxpayers in Tier 4, waiver of one hundred percent (100%) of penalties and one hundred percent (100%) of interest accrued as of the date of the agreement.
               (v)   For taxpayers who request an individual financial assessment under subsection (2)(d)(.3)(.e), the amount of waiver of interest and penalties shall be determined by the Tier in which their monthly household income falls.
            (.b)   Notwithstanding any provision of this Title to the contrary, within thirty (30) days of a taxpayer, who is enrolled in an income-based payment agreement, making all payments required thereunder, the Department shall:
               (i)   immediately waive, forgive, and abate all interest and penalties, as provided for in subsection (.a), above;
               (ii)   certify that the entire real estate tax liability is paid in full;
               (iii)   correct any records (written, computerized, or otherwise) the City maintains regarding the taxpayer's account to reflect that the account is current; and
               (iv)   inform the taxpayer in writing by first-class mail that his or her real estate tax account is current and that the outstanding tax liabilities are paid in full.
      (e)   Non-Homestead Payment Agreements. Payment agreements with taxpayers are authorized for all amounts due on real estate tax liabilities on properties other than homesteads, in the discretion of the Department.
      (f)   Terms of Payment Agreements.
         (.1)   Maintenance of Current Taxes. While enrolled in a payment agreement pursuant to this Section, a taxpayer generally is obligated to pay the current year real estate taxes that come due and owing during each subsequent year. Provided that, nothing in this subsection (2)(f)(.1) shall preclude a taxpayer enrolled in a payment agreement pursuant to this Section from entering into a deferral of taxes under Section 19-1307. And further provided that, so long as a taxpayer is eligible for a Tier 4 agreement or for an agreement based on an Individual Financial Assessment under subsection (2)(d)(.3)(.e), the Department shall add current year taxes to the payment agreement unless the taxpayer directs the Department otherwise; a taxpayer who is otherwise compliant with the agreement shall be deemed to be in full compliance. A taxpayer who is compliant with any agreement approved under subsection 19-1305(2)(d) shall be treated as paying property taxes in a timely manner and the taxpayer shall be deemed not in default on real estate tax subject to such agreement. 241
         (.2)   Tolling of Charges. While a taxpayer is making payments toward real estate tax liabilities under a homestead payment agreement, all amounts for additions, interest, penalties, fees, and other charges provided for under Section 19-1303 will be tolled and shall not continue to accrue after the date of the agreement, provided, however, that such amounts will be added to the taxpayer's total liability should he or she fail to successfully complete the payment agreement.
         (.3)   Application of Payments. Notwithstanding any provision of this Title to the contrary, unless otherwise provided in any applicable bond covenants, payments made pursuant to a payment agreement shall be credited to the taxpayer's delinquent account as follows:
            (.a)   Until such time as the total principal included in the taxpayer's payment agreement is repaid, one hundred percent (100%) of all payments made under the terms of such agreement shall be credited and accounted toward such total principal amount and any associated attorneys' fees, in the same proportion as the two liabilities bear to each other. No part of any payment made under the agreement may be used to pay or reduce other amounts demanded as due under Section 19-1303, including, but not limited to, charges for additions, interest and penalties, or other fees, until such time as the taxpayer shall have made payments equal to the amount of the total principal due; provided that the Department may, by regulation, provide that payments may be allocated to reimbursable expenses prior to, or after, any allocation to principal and associated fees.
            (.b)   Notwithstanding subsection (2)(f)(.3)(.a), where a taxpayer (i) is not required to pay current taxes in addition to their monthly payments under an agreement pursuant to subsection (2)(f)(.1), and (ii) is either a senior citizen or person with a disability age 18 and older, and eligible for the Pennsylvania Senior Citizen Real Property Tax Rebate ("the Rebate"), one hundred percent (100%) of all payments made under the terms of such agreement, up to the amount due thereunder for the current year, shall be applied to current taxes, so as to be eligible for the Rebate. 242
         (.4)   Payment Agreements in Writing. All payment agreements shall be in writing and a copy provided to the taxpayer. All agreements shall include but are not limited to the following terms:
            (.a)   the monthly payment amount;
            (.b)   the payment due date;
            (.c)   the specific address to which payment should be mailed as well as a location where payments may be made in person;
            (.d)   the length or period of the agreement including the number of payments;
            (.e)   the total amount agreed as due under the agreement;
            (.f)   a statement of the delinquent tax years covered by the agreement as well as an itemization of the amounts due for each year specifying amounts due for principal, interest, penalties, attorney's fees and other costs or charges;
            (.g)   the requirement of maintenance of current property tax payments during the length of the agreement as well as an explanation of how current payments should be tendered to the Department in order to avoid misapplication of payments to delinquent tax years.
            (.h)   a brief explanation regarding how payments will be applied to the delinquency;
            (.i)   a brief explanation of the consequences of breach and default on agreement including possible legal action;
            (.j)   a brief explanation of the taxpayer's right to cure payments missed under the agreement as well as the specific address to which cure payments should be sent;
            (.k)   a brief explanation of conditional forgiveness, if applicable, and the effect of completion of the agreement; and
            (.l)   a brief explanation of any additional terms or requirements, including recertification of eligibility if applicable.
         (.5)   Prohibition against Stipulated or Consent Judgments Relating to Homesteads. No payment agreement under this Section for tax liabilities due on a homestead shall contain a term requiring the taxpayer to stipulate or consent to judgment being entered against him or her in any legal action filed to collect delinquent property taxes or any other liens pertaining to his or her homestead.
         (.6)   No Waiver of Defenses. No payment agreement under this Section for tax liabilities due on a homestead shall contain a term requiring the taxpayer to waive or release all defenses or claims which the taxpayer may have in any legal action filed to collect delinquent property taxes or any other liens pertaining to his or her homestead, provided that the Department may require the taxpayer to stipulate to the total amount of tax liabilities owed.
         (.7)   The Department shall promulgate standards governing stay, postponement, and holds of pending enforcement actions to allow taxpayers time to apply for and enter into payment agreements, and to seek legal representation or assistance from housing counselors. The Department shall also promulgate standards regarding circumstances under which pending enforcement actions shall be discontinued after a taxpayer enters into a payment agreement.
         (.8)   Modification of Agreements. Upon written request of the Department no more frequently than once per year, a taxpayer must re-certify to the Department his or her income and eligibility, and the payment agreement shall be modified accordingly. A taxpayer may request a modification of his or her payment agreement due to a change in income or other exigent circumstances, and such a request timely received shall not constitute a breach of that agreement.
   (3)   Rules and Regulations.
      (a)   The Revenue Commissioner shall promulgate such rules, regulations, written policy, forms, and other documentation as are deemed necessary to effectuate the purpose of this Section, including a schedule of documentation that shall be accepted as proof of equitable ownership.
      (b)   The Revenue Commissioner shall promulgate such rules, regulations, written policy, forms, and other documentation as are deemed necessary to effectuate the purpose of the provisions added or amended by the bill adding this subsection (b) within 90 days of the date on which such bill becomes law. 243
   (4)   Prohibited Conduct.
      (a)   False Statements. No person shall intentionally make any false statement when applying to enter into an installment payment agreement. If it is determined that a taxpayer entered into an installment payment agreement on the basis of an intentionally false statement, the agreement shall be null and void.
      (b)   Material Breach. A taxpayer may be declared in material breach of a payment agreement if the taxpayer fails to make a required payment, provided material breach may not be declared earlier than the sixty-fifth (65th) day from the agreed-upon payment due date and the forty-fifth (45th) day from the mailing of a notice of risk of material breach, and subject to the following terms and conditions:
         (.1)   Notice of Risk of Material Breach. If a taxpayer fails to make a required payment within twenty (20) days of an agreed-upon payment due date, the Department shall send a notice including a clear statement that the taxpayer is at risk of material breach, the entire amount required to cure the missed payment(s) as well as any payments currently due, the location where this amount may be tendered and the form(s) of payment accepted, and the process to seek a modification of the agreement based on a change in income or other exigent circumstances and any applicable deadlines to seek such a modification. The risk of material breach notice shall also state the date on which the agreement will be considered in material breach, and a brief description of the consequences of material breach of a payment agreement. If a taxpayer has two prior material breaches of a payment agreement, the notice shall additionally include a clear statement that a third material breach will put the taxpayer at risk of default and a brief description of the consequences of default.
         (.2)   Notice of Material Breach. If a taxpayer is declared in material breach of a payment agreement, the Department shall send a notice including a clear statement that the taxpayer has been declared in material breach, the date on which the material breach was declared, the entire amount required to cure the missed payment(s) as well as any payments currently due and lump sum payments that may be required, the location where this amount may be tendered and the form(s) of payment accepted, and the process to seek a modification of the agreement based on a change in income or other exigent circumstances and any applicable deadlines to seek such a modification. The material breach notice shall also include a brief description of the consequences of material breach of a payment agreement. If a taxpayer has two prior breaches of a payment agreement, the notice shall additionally include a clear statement that a third breach will put the taxpayer at risk of default and a brief description of the consequences of default.
         (.3)   Reinstatement Following Material Breach. To reinstate a payment agreement that has been materially breached, a taxpayer may be required to make a lump sum payment equal to as much as twice the regular monthly payment due.
      (c)   Default. Following the effective date of this Section, a taxpayer may be declared in default by written notice sent to the taxpayer after either having failed to cure a material breach within forty-five (45) days of the date the taxpayer is declared in material breach or after having materially breached a payment agreement a third (3rd) time following two (2) cured material breaches within a thirty-six (36) month period. If a taxpayer is declared in default of a payment agreement such agreement shall be null and void. A taxpayer who has defaulted pursuant to this Section will not be entitled to additional agreements under this Section, provided that the Department may at its discretion approve additional agreements on terms which it deems suitable. The Department's refusal to approve additional agreements following default shall not be subject to administrative review or appeal.
      (d)   Effect of Cure. If payment or action sufficient to cure is received by the Department before a taxpayer is declared in material breach and/or default, the Department shall not declare the taxpayer in material breach and/or default and the payment agreement shall remain in effect, except that a payment received after a third declaration of material breach shall not preclude or cure a declaration of default.
      (e)   Commencement of Enforcement Action. 244 In the case of taxpayers who do not enter into a payment agreement or otherwise satisfy outstanding liabilities by December 31 of the first year in which the tax is registered as delinquent, and in the case of taxpayers who default on payment agreements, the Department shall timely take all steps as provided for in the Act of 1923, May 16, P.L. 207, No. 153, § 39.4, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 7147 and 7193.4, or elsewhere. Pursuant to 53 Pa. C.S. § 7147, the Department shall be authorized to assign or transfer to third-parties, real estate tax claims filed or to be filed, for an amount to be determined by the Department. When proceeding under 53 Pa. C.S. § 7147 (related to assignments and transfers) the Department shall:
         (.1)   Not transfer or assign claims valued at less than one thousand dollars ($1,000);
         (.2)   Before assigning or transferring real estate tax claims to other third-parties, grant a right-of-first- refusal to any existing third-party assignee of a real estate tax claim related to the property;
         (.3)   Require that any attorney or other professional services fees be capped at a rate not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200) per hour; and
         (.4)   Require that any expenses including, attorneys' fees, professional services fees and any other fees or charges related to the assignment, transfer, or sale of a given real estate tax claim not exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500); and
         (.5)   Require that interest rates charged by lien holders be capped at ten percent (10%), pursuant to 53 Pa. C.S. § 143; and that penalty rates be capped at five percent (5%), pursuant to 53 Pa. C.S. § 7203; and
         (.6)   In the case of Homestead Properties, pursuant to Section 19-1301, require that sheriff sale of the property cannot be initiated by a lien holder until two years have passed from the date of purchase of the lien.
         (.7)   Except for subsections (4)(e)(.2) and (.5) above, the restrictions in subsection (4)(e) shall not apply to the assignment or transfer of tax liens on commercial property. 245
      From time to time the Department may by regulation adjust the fees and charges a lien holder may collect and any caps on such fees and charges.
   (5)   Review by Tax Review Board.
      (a)   The Tax Review Board is authorized to review any adverse final decision or determination of the Department relating to initial or continued eligibility for a payment agreement or to the taxpayer's performance of his or her obligations under a payment agreement with the same effect as a petition for review pursuant to Chapter 19-1700 of this Title.
   (6)   Access to payment history.
      (a)   Upon request, any taxpayer shall be provided a payment history or account history regarding his or her real estate tax payments.
      (b)   The Department shall make available in its offices and on its website a form for making such a payment history request; must accept such requests by mail, hand-delivery, or email; and must clearly indicate on the request form how to submit a request through each such means.
      (c)   Within thirty (30) days of receiving a payment history request from a taxpayer, the Department must send the taxpayer a payment history for the subject property setting forth:
         (.1)   the amount of current year real estate tax;
         (.2)   the amount of any prior year real estate tax liability, specifically indicating what amount of such prior year liability is principal, penalty, interest, and other eligible expenses including attorney's fees and costs; and
         (.3)   the taxpayer's real estate tax payment history, including how each such payment by the taxpayer was applied (i.e., to principal, penalty, or interest).
      (d)   Such payment history shall be sent to the taxpayer through the means selected by the taxpayer on the request form, which must include the option of first class mail or email.
   (7)   Reporting.
      (a)   By January 31 of each year, the Department shall submit a written report to the Mayor, with a copy to the President and Chief Clerk of Council, regarding activities undertaken pursuant to this Section during the previous calendar year.
      (b)   Each such report shall include the following information for the twelve-month period covered:
         (.1)   the total number of delinquent accounts broken down by homestead and non-homestead and an aged accounts receivable for such accounts in the aggregate, breaking out amounts due for principal, penalty, and interest;
         (.2)   the number of notices sent pursuant to subsection (2)(b) and how many taxpayers contacted the Department in response to such notices, broken down by homestead and non-homestead;
         (.3)   how many taxpayer contacts resulted in new payment agreements being made and a breakdown of such payment agreements by type, term, and amount of liability covered;
         (.4)   how many taxpayer contacts did not result in payment agreements being made and a breakdown of the reasons for the same (e.g., lack of title, failure of taxpayer to follow up, and so on);
         (.5)   the total number of taxpayers referred by the Department to housing counseling agencies or legal services agencies including a breakdown of the number of referrals to each agency;
         (.6)   the total number of existing payment agreements and a breakdown of such payment agreements by type, term, and amount of liability covered, which liability shall be further broken down into principal, interest, penalties, and other fees or costs; and
         (.7)   the total number of payment agreements on which taxpayers defaulted during the applicable period and the reason(s) for the default.

 

Notes

227
   Added, 1982 Ordinances, p. 743; amended, 1982 Ordinances, p. 807; amended, Bill No. 120054-A (approved June 17, 2013), effective October 15, 2013; caption amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
228
   Bill No. 120054-A misnumbered subsections (1)(d) through (1)(g); renumbered by Code editor.
229
   Heading amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
230
   Amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
231
   Amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
232
   Amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
233
   Amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
234
   Amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
235
   Enrolled bill incorrectly cited subsection (.5); corrected by Code editor.
236
   Enrolled bill read "Chapter 19-3900(3)(a)".
237
   Enrolled bill read "Chapter 19-2904(1)(a)".
238
   Added, Bill No. 140278 (approved August 5, 2014), effective October 1, 2014; amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
239
   Amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
240
   Amended, Bill No. 140278 (approved August 5, 2014), effective October 1, 2014.
241
   Amended, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017); amended, Bill No. 180138 (approved April 18, 2018).
242
   Added, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
243
   Added, Bill No. 170519-A (approved October 18, 2017).
244
   Amended, Bill No. 130531-A (approved November 13, 2013), effective November 15, 2013; amended, Bill No. 150265 (approved June 18, 2015).
245
   Added, Bill No. 150265 (approved June 18, 2015).