Property Assessment Appeals
Often, you are paying too much in property taxes compared to other people in your municipality with similar current market valuations. Reassessments in Pennsylvania are done sporadically by each county, and are often done infrequently. For example, Bucks County has not performed a countywide reassessment since 1972! As a result, there is a significant difference between the assessed value and the real market value of your property due to changes in real estate values.
Property Assessment Appeals FAQ
How are my property taxes calculated?
Your school, municipal, and county taxes are determined by the assessed value of the property, multiplied by the millage rate, divided by 1000. For example, say your assessed value of your property is $100,000, and the millage rate is 50 for your school taxes. Your school taxes are calculated as follows:
100,000 x 50 / 1000 = $5,000
The same calculation is also done for your county and municipal taxes, and other taxes such as an open space, fire, or library tax.
How does my assessed value relate to my actual property value?
The assessed value is based upon the theoretical value of your property at the last time there was a countywide reassessment in your county. In some cases, like in Bucks County, there was a change in the assessment ratio without a reassessment in 2005, so that number is not reflective of 1972 values. You can find the assessed value of your property on your property tax bill or on your county’s board of assessment website.
To then determine what the county believes is the fair market value of your property, you would multiply this assessment value by a number called the Common Level Ratio. Historical Common Level Ratios can be found at this website.
For example, the current Common Level Ratio for Bucks County is 9.17. Let’s take a home in Northampton Township with the assessment of $34,000 as an example. To determine what the county believes the fair market value of the property is, you would multiple these numbers together.
9.17 x $34,000 = $311,780
So, how do I know if I should file an appeal?
After doing the calculation above, if you believe the fair market value of your property is HIGHER the number, you should NOT file an appeal, because your property taxes are actually lower than they should be. If however you believe the fair market value of your property is LOWER than the number, you may benefit from filing an appeal.
I want to go forward with an appeal. What is the next step?
Contact us and we will discuss the steps required to file an appeal.
What are the fees and costs for me?
Our legal fee is contingent on the amount of money that you save. Therefore, if your appeal is not successful, you will owe us nothing. We also pay the filing fee to the county.
We recommend that you have a property appraisal less than 12 months old. If you recently bought your property, you almost certainly have an appraisal that was completed as part of your purchase. We can use that appraisal as part of the evidence we submit to support your claim. If you do not have an appraisal, we strongly recommend you get one prior to your hearing. You would be responsible for the costs of the appraisal, which can be performed by any licensed Pennsylvania appraiser.
Do I need to attend the hearing?
While you are welcome to attend the hearing, there is no requirement for you to do so. This is another advantage of hiring an attorney to represent you.
When will my tax reduction take effect and is it retroactive?
A successful annual assessment appeal will be effective in January and the assessment is not retroactive.