If you’ve ever talked to a homeowner from New Jersey, you’ve probably heard them complain about the state’s property taxes, the highest in the nation.
Pennsylvania’s property taxes aren’t as bad, but they consistently rank on the higher end of national tax rankings. Here in PA, we base property taxes on two things: your local, county and school district tax rate, plus the value of your home, which is determined by your county tax assessor.
To figure out your yearly tax payment, government bodies take the assessed value of your property – what it would sell for – and multiply it by their tax rate.
So if the assessment on your home is $400,000 and the tax rate is $10 for every $1,000 of taxable value, your tax bill would be $4,000.
However, you can challenge a real estate tax assessment. Here’s how to appeal:
Appealing your real estate tax assessment
You’ll need to prove one of these things to dispute your assessment:
- That the county tax assessor made their ruling based on incorrect data
- That they set the taxable value of your property higher than comparable properties nearby
- That they assumed the current market value of property was greater than it actually is
It might be that you can visit the assessor and make your case in person. Just keep calm and stick to the facts and they might agree to revisit the assessment.
But if you’re unsuccessful, you can still appeal your real estate tax assessment before the county’s Board of Assessment Appeals. Here in Bucks County, the deadline for filing an appeal is typically August 1.
To appeal the assessment on your home:
- You’ll need to file a notice of appeal with the county by the deadline we mentioned above, along with a $35 fee. Late forms and facsimiles of appeal forms will be rejected.
- You and your lawyer will need to attend the hearing, unless you’ve signed a waiver. The appeals board might make exceptions for people with unique or significant hardships.
- The board can hear testimony from property owners and their attorneys along with appraisers.
- Property owners need to show evidence of the market value of your home. If you’ve purchased your home within 18 months of the appeal, you can submit your settlement form, as well as an appraisal report from an appraiser who is certified by the state.
- You can also submit evidence of similar homes in your neighborhood. These are properties that are of similar value, style, location and quality of construction.
- After examining your witnesses and evidence, the board may still require more information to make their determination.
- Property owners will be notified by mail 20 days in advance of the hearing. Failure to appear will be seen as an abandonment of the appeal, which can then be dismissed.
- If you’re submitting a group appeal, you must be represented by an attorney.
Even if you’re not part of a group real estate tax assessment appeal, we’d recommend having an attorney with you.
The real estate attorneys at Benner and Wild have spent decades mastering the ins and outs of local tax assessment appeals and can advise you on the best way to make your case before your local board.
Whether it’s a residential, commercial or industrial property, our lawyers are ready to fight for you. Contact us today to learn more.