Taxing AuthorityPhiladelphia officials completely made up Nathan Lerner’s $280,772 tax bill, but Pennsylvania judges say he must pay it anyway. A city official admitted her office invents “jeopardy assessments” as a means of scaring taxpayers. “We want them to come in and make sure the figures are accurate,” said Denise Reynolds. Lerner, who says he lives mostly on Social Security and isn’t in business, initially did not hire an attorney to help him fight the city’s claim for business taxes, and when he was ordered to pay for a transcript of an administrative hearing, he didn’t. So county Judge Leon W. Tucker, who’d issued that order, said that meant Lerner had waived his right to contest the assessment — even though the assessment, Tucker said, “was unsupported by any evidence.” An appellate court upheld that ruling despite commenting that “the city’s strong-arm collection tactics may well lack authority in law.” The lawyer who is now representing Lerner for free says he may appeal further. (AC/Harrisburg Patriot-News) ...At what point do you rule that Philadelphia has waived its right to collect taxes?
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