As the Deadlines for 2018 Tax Appeals in Pennsylvania Approach, Taxpayers Should be Prepared to Carefully Review Their Assessments
Taxpayers with property in Pennsylvania should be aware that the deadline to file an appeal to protest their tax assessment is approaching. In Pennsylvania, an appeal relates to the subsequent tax year. Consequently an appeal filed this year is for the 2018 tax year. The deadlines to appeal vary by County, but are generally August 1 or September 1. With respect to many of the larger counties, the deadlines are as follows:
August 1, 2017: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton
August 15, 2017: Berks
September 1, 2017: Carbon, Centre, Cumberland, Lackawanna, Lebanon
October 2, 2017: Philadelphia
Note that Lancaster County underwent a Countywide Reassessment for 2018, setting all of the assessments in the County at 100% of true value. The final notices of reassessment were mailed on or about June 9, 2017. The deadline to appeal is 40 days from the date of mailing, thus if the notice has a mailing date of June 9, 2017 the deadline to appeal is July 19, 2017.
In many counties it has been decades since the last reassessment. Thus the assessments must be scrutinized closely to determine whether or not an appeal is worthwhile. This is especially true with income producing properties such as office buildings and warehouses, for which the assessments may indicate a market value not in line with the true value under current economic conditions.
Pennsylvania taxpayers should also be on the lookout for affirmative appeals filed to increase the assessments. These are often filed by school districts, which represent the largest receiver of taxes in most jurisdictions. This practice of cherry picking properties to appeal has thus far been unanimously approved by Pennsylvania courts and more districts each year have been engaging in this practice. For example, Philadelphia’s school district began filing affirmative appeals in 2016 for the 2017 tax year. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently entertained oral argument on the question of appealing certain commercial properties, in this case apartment buildings, to the exclusion of any residential properties which may also be under assessed. A ruling for the school district will likely ensure that this practice will continue. The case is Valley Forge Towers Apartments N, LP, et als. v. Upper Merion Area School District, 49 MAP 2016.
If you own or pay the real estate tax on a property that is the subject of an affirmative appeal a thorough and immediate review of the appeal by a seasoned professional is critical to ensure that your rights and defenses in the appeal are protected.