Finance

One of Philadelphia's Worst Tax Deadbeats Is a Public Utility, and It Won't Have to Pay the $22 Million Bill Anymore.

June 25, 2014

SEPTA owes the City of Philadelphia nearly $22 million in delinquent taxes on agency properties leased to private businesses, but the bad news for taxpayers: All that debt will soon be wiped from the books.

A new 30-year agreement between the transit agency and city goes into effect on July 1 and it absolves SEPTA of the requirement to make good on the delinquency, which came to light in data collected by an economist at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government. Philly.com recently obtained the data.

Critics say the money could have been used to help not only city coffers, but also city schools.

Though SEPTA is generally tax-exempt because it’s a nonprofit, the transit agency nonetheless built up the delinquencies in its role as a commercial landlord. According to a 2003 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, SEPTA has been required to pay property taxes on the commercial portions of its real estate holdings. But records show it has not done so.

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