How Do I Challenge My Property Tax Assessment in Pennsylvania?
If you own real property in Pennsylvania, you will likely owe property tax on the property every year. The amount of your property tax obligation each year will depend on the assessed value of the property. If you have recently received a property tax assessment and/or bill that reflects a value for your property with which you do not agree, you may be wondering “How do I challenge my property tax assessment in Pennsylvania?”
First, it helps to gain a better understanding of how your property’s assessed value is arrived at for the purpose of determining your tax obligation. Property taxes are a huge source of funding for local governments in Pennsylvania because everyone pays property taxes, unless an exemption applies. Moreover, taxes are paid to three independent taxing districts, including the county, the municipality, and the coterminous school district.
Assessments, for the purpose of determining tax obligations, are completed by licensed assessors working for the local Assessment and Tax Claim Office. Pennsylvania law requires property to be valued according to its “actual value” and at a “bona fide rate and price for which the property would separately sell.” To establish the “actual” value of property, the county may use current year market values, or it may adopt a base year for market values. For the most part, properties are assessed at a set percentage of base year values. Property is only assessed at current market value when a countywide reassessment has been conducted and implemented.
If a property owner disagrees with the assessed value of his or her property, an appeal may be filed with the local Board of Assessment Appeals. If your appeal to the Board is unsuccessful, you may subsequently appeal to the Court of Common Pleas. After the county Board of Assessment establishes prima facie validity of its assessment, you have the burden of proof, meaning you will have to produce “sufficient, credible, and relevant evidence” that the assessed value of your property is incorrect. As part of the appeals process, the Board (or Court) must determine the following two things:
- The market value of the property as of the date such appeal was filed with the board;
- The common level ratio published by the STEB on or before the first day of July of the year prior to the tax year being appealed to the board.
If the fair market value, as determined by the Board, differs from the fair market value used in the assessment of your property, your tax obligation will change accordingly.
One important thing to keep in mind if you decide to challenge the assessment on your property is that filing an appeal does not prevent collection efforts for any tax obligation currently owing on the property. If you ultimately win your appeal, you will likely be owed a refund of the excess funds paid while the appeal was pending.
If you do not agree with the assessed value of your home, or other real property, in Pennsylvania, contact an experienced Conshohocken real estate lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact the real estate law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your consultation.