Tax Assessment Appeal

You may be paying several thousand dollars a year in property taxes. You may be paying so much because mistakes have been made in the assessment process. If you appeal your assessment to correct the mistakes and/or to lower the assessed value of your real estate you may save thousands of dollars in reduced taxes in the long run.

In Pennsylvania what drives your tax bill is the taxable value of your home and your tax rate.

● The county tax assessor decides your home or business property's taxable value which is a percentage of its "actual value" (what your property would sell for on the open market). This percentage varies and is known as the assessment ratio.

● The taxable value of your property is multiplied by the tax rate to calculate the tax you owe. Local officials set the tax rate so it varies depending on where you live. You can't do much about the tax rate but you may be able to change the taxable-value factor.

● You can do that by making sure what's seen as the "actual value" of your property is actually accurate. If your taxes are based on an "actual value" of $400,000 but what the property would sell for on the open market is $350,000, by reducing the $400,000 figure you should reduce your taxes.

The tax record for your property may have inaccurate or incomplete information which causes the county tax assessor to over-value your property. You can get of a copy of this tax record at the tax assessor's office. You could lower what's seen as the actual value by correcting mistakes in the record that are falsely inflating the value of the property, or, if there are no such mistakes, you could still disagree with the conclusion on the market value of your home.

You can make that argument by seeing how the assessor is valuing property similar to yours and by showing how much property like yours is currently selling for. If you recently bought the property the purchase price would be good evidence to use. For a fee, a real estate agent may be able to supply you with information on similar, local properties and their recent sales prices. If you had your property appraised to re-finance your mortgage that appraisal could also be very helpful.

If you have grounds to change what the assessor sees as your property's value you can meet with someone at the assessor's office and armed with the evidence you've come up with, try to convince them the value needs to be lowered. If that doesn't work, or the reduction isn't low enough, you can appeal your valuation by petitioning your county's Board of Assessment Appeals. There will be a short hearing allowing you to argue your case. If their decision doesn't go your way you could ask a court for a review.

A successful tax appeal could save you substantial money in the long run and may be worth the time, effort and expense. If you have questions about a tax assessment appeal or need help in pursuing one, contact our office so we can talk about your property and your tax bill may be lowered.

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