Your home or business property tax bill may have arrived recently and like many of us, you wonder if you are paying more than your fair share. How do you tell? What can you do?
What is an assessment?
In Pennsylvania, real estate assessment is the value the county assigns to your property. The assessment is used to determine how much you pay in real estate (school, municipal, and county) property taxes.
How much is my assessment?
Your property tax bill normally identifies the amount of your assessment. You can also obtain the amount of your property tax assessment from your county tax office or its website.
Is my assessment fair?
The assessment, which is different than the appraised value of your property and in most cases does not equal 100 percent of the fair market value of your property, is established by the county once every few years and remains fixed as property values move up and down. So if your assessment is too high, either because it was originally assessed too high or because of a decrease in your property’s value, you are paying too much in taxes each year that the assessment remains the same.
Identify the current common level ratio for the county in which your property is located, normally from the county assessment office’s website. Pennsylvania sets the common level ratio for each county annually. It is the percentage of the market value at which properties should be assessed.
Multiply your estimated fair market value by the common level ratio to determine what you believe the assessment should be for your property.
Compare that to the county assessment.
Should I file an appeal?
You have the right to file an assessment appeal annually. However, your taxes could increase if it is determined that your assessment was low. If you believe your assessment is no fair, it is helpful to conduct additional research to identify a few comparable properties with lower assessments before filing an appeal. We can assist you with identifying appraisers, real estate agents, and comparable properties to help you make an informed decision on whether to appeal this year.
Filing an Appeal
We are happy to assist clients to file an assessment appeal, prepare for and participate in the hearing, and appeal the assessment board decision, if necessary. The annual deadline for filing of an assessment appeal varies by county but generally are in July or August.