Memorial Day has come and gone, the unofficial start of Summer and Pennsylvania's property tax assessment appeal season is here. Now, is the time for residential and commercial property owners to really consider appealing their assessments.
It's this time of year that we receive hundreds of phone calls and emails from property owners who what to know if appealing their assessment is feasible. One thing we've noticed is that many property owners have a fundamental misconception about their property taxes and how to go about appealing them. Most people think that they can appeal their taxes. Unfortunately, we can’t appeal our taxes. Sorry, folks, no such luck.
However, it is your right as a property owner to appeal your assessment. Your assessment is the underlying factor upon which your taxes are calculated. Given that most properties are taxed on an “ad valorem” basis, meaning the tax is based on the value of the real estate, your assessment should represent the current fair market value of your property.
Now, most counties in the Philadelphia metro region (including Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Berks, Lehigh & Northampton) have not been reassessed in years (its very costly to do a countywide reassessment). What this means is that the assessments may present an inaccurate representation of current fair market value. Now, as a means of trying to keep the assessments current with the real estate market, equalization rations have been developed in an attempt to make the assessments echo the current market. These ratios don’t always succeed in reflecting the market, especially the turbulent markets of the past 3-4 years. As a result, the assessment of a given property may be over stated, which translates into taxes that may also be overstated.
Appraisals should be completed by a state certified appraiser (or licensed appraiser depending on the state) who is familiar with your area. In Pennsylvania, for instance, only a certified appraiser can provide an appraisal of your property. Anything completed by someone other than an state certified appraiser is not an appraisal. Real estate agents and brokers cannot provide appraisals in Pennsylvania.
The deadlines for filing a tax appeal are usually in Bucks, Delaware and Chester Counties August 1, 2010 and September 1, 2010 for Montgomery County. If you reside in any other Pennsylvania counties, please check with your county tax assessor’s office to confirm your county’s deadline. Remember, if you miss the deadline, you miss the opportunity to appeal and will have to wait another year (paying the same high taxes).
For more information or to see if you are a candidate for tax assessment appeal, please contact The Coyle Group.
The Coyle Group provides appraisals for tax assessment appeals in Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Lehigh, Berks and Northampton Counties.