In Pennsylvania, your property taxes are based on two factors: the local tax rate for your county, school district and municipality, and the value of your home or property as determined by your county assessment office.
That value is a percentage of the actual value of your property, or how much it would sell for. To figure out what you owe, government bodies take the assessed value and multiply it by the tax rate.
If your home is assessed at $200,000, and the tax rate is $10 for every $1000 of taxable value, your bill will be $2,000.
As Nolo points out, you can’t do much about the tax rate where you live, beyond lobbying your school board or local government to cut spending (or running for office).
But you can challenge your assessment. Here are the steps you need to take.
How to Appeal your Bucks County Property Taxes
In order to dispute the assessment, you will need to show one of three things:
- That the county assessor relied on incorrect information
- They set the taxable value of your property higher than that of comparable homes in your community
- They assumed the current market value of your property is higher than it really is.
It is possible you can make an appointment with the assessment office and make your case directly to them. Stay calm, stick to the facts, and give the assessor your evidence.
If you cannot convince the assessor, you can appeal the valuation of your home to your county Board of Assessment Appeals. Each county has a different appeal deadline. For Bucks County property tax assessments, it’s typically Aug. 1 of each year.
To appeal a residential assessment:
- You need to file a notice of appeal with the county. Completed appeal forms – along with a $35 fee — need to be at the county Board of Assessment office by 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 1. If you are making an interim appeal, you must pay a $35 fee and file before 4:30 p.m. on the date listed on your assessment revision notice.
- Any appeal forms received after the filing date – regardless of when they were mailed – will be rejected as untimely. Facsimiles of appeal forms will be rejected.
- You or your attorney must be present at the hearing, unless you’ve signed a waiver. The board may make exceptions in the case of unique or significant hardships.
- Appraisers may testify, along with property owners and their attorneys.
- You will need to show evidence of market value. If you bought your home within the past 18 months, you can submit a copy of your settlement sheet with your appeal form. You can also submit an appraisal report from a state-certified appraiser.
- Property owners can also check sales of similar properties in their neighborhood. Similar here refers to style, location, value, quality of construction and physical characteristics. Property owners can submit a list of these homes, along with photos and photos of their own home, to help the board make its determination.
- The board may examine all witnesses and may ask for more information to be provided after the hearing to determine market value.
- Property owners and – when applicable – their attorneys will be notified by mail 20 days before the hearing with the location, time and date of the hearing. Failure to appear will be considered abandonment of the appeal and is grounds for dismissal.
- Anyone submitting a group appeal must have an attorney.
We would argue that anyone planning to appeal an assessment change should have an attorney at their side. The law firm of Benner and Wild has been practicing real estate law for 30 years, and can advise you on how to appeal your Bucks County property taxes.
We can help appeal tax assessments for residential, commercial and industrial property in Pennsylvania. Taxes are just a fact of life for home owners, but the attorneys of Benner and Wild can make sure you’re not paying too much.