Challenging Property Tax Assessments

April 11, 2019

Property tax bills may amount to a lot of money and can be a burden for Pennsylvania residents. No one likes to pay high property taxes, and most pay it without thinking about any recourse.

According to Forbes, just two percent of homeowners challenge their property tax assessments, even though the National Taxpayers Union reported that over half of properties’ values are overestimated by assessors.

Pennsylvania Property Tax Assessments

Before the next year’s tax bills are processed, homeowners receive tax assessments that tell them what their new payments will be. In PA, it starts when county tax assessors decide how much a home is worth. This is done by determining how much the home would sell for if put on the market; this equals its taxable value.

Then, The Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board uses a percentage, which can change from year to year, which they use to calculate the home’s taxable value.

Since the percentages are set by local officials, there is not much to be done there. However, the taxable value is something that might be challenged. If a homeowner believes that their home was valued too high, then they might be able to appeal.

Tax Records

Homeowners wishing to challenge their tax assessment will need to complete some research. A copy of the tax record is needed, and this can be obtained from the local tax assessor’s office.

Once in hand, it should be carefully checked for mistakes. It must have the correct square feet, lot size, and number of rooms. It should be categorized as residential, and include any improvements and flaws.

The homeowner should also ensure that the record includes any tax deductions for disability, age, military service, and income. Finally, the home’s purchase price and age should be correct.

If mistakes exist, the assessor should be informed, and the record adjusted. If the homeowner is still not in agreement with the final number, other steps may be taken.

What to Do Next

Following the tax record correction, a homeowner has options if they are not satisfied with the assessment. If the home was purchased recently, that price provides some proof of its value. Gathering data about similar homes in the neighborhood that have sold is also helpful. This can be done online, or from a real estate agent.

Some may also choose to hire their own appraiser. Another way to get evidence is to look at assessment records for similar homes; this is also available at the assessor’s office.

Filing Appeals

When there is a discrepancy between the records and the home’s taxable value, an appeal could be worthwhile. If there is sufficient evidence for a challenge, a homeowner may contact the County Board of Assessment Appeals to file an appeal.

To do this, though, a recent home appraisal will be necessary. If the appeal is denied, the homeowner can then turn to the Court of Common Pleas. In the end, a successful property tax appeal could lead to current and future tax savings.

Delaware County Real Estate Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Homeowners with Property Tax Appeals

If your home’s taxable value is incorrect, you could be overpaying your property taxes. Contact a knowledgeable Delaware County real estate lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. for help with your property tax issues. Call 610-565-3701 or complete an online form for a free consultation today. With offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.