What is the Difference Between an Informal Hearing and a Formal Appeal Hearing?
The Two Types of Property Tax Assessment Hearings in Allegheny County
In order to prepare themselves for their Allegheny County tax appeal, our clients want to know the difference between the informal appeals process and the formal appeals process. As the Allegheny County tax appeal experts, Flaherty & Fardo are here to break it down for you.
Formal and Informal Allegheny County Tax Appeal Hearings
Wonderful Advantages for Homeowners in Informal Hearings
The 2 main differences are between informal and formal hearings include:
- The length of the hearings (i.e. the informal hearings are expedited)
- The attorneys for the taxing entities will not be present at the informal hearings.
The lack of any cross-examination by the taxing entities in informal hearings can be a significant advantage for property owners who are adequately prepared. In short, it means your evidence, if credible, should win the appeal, since there will be no attorneys to refute it. Remember to focus on comparable sales, not comparable assessments. Arguments should be brief, concise, and correct inaccurate data.
Rule of Thumb: Choose the Informal Hearing First
The Allegheny County Tax Appeal Hearing Type that is Best for You
Originally, the concept of the informal hearing was to help correct inaccurate building characteristics on the property record (such as # of rooms or square footage). Since the last reassessment, the informal hearing has acted as the same function as the formal hearing (i.e. an opportunity for the property owner to reduce their property assessment value). If a property owner believes they have a valid case for an appeal, they should proceed with the informal appeals process first.
Another advantage of the informal appeal process is the fact that the result from the informal appeal will be the property owner’s tax base pending any additional appeals by the taxing entities (which can sometimes last for years).
Property owners should also be aware that anytime a property owner files an assessment appeal in Allegheny County, PA, the assessment can be lowered, sustained (kept the same) or raised. If you are a recent home-buyer and your new 2012 assessment is lower than your recent purchase price, you need to be careful not to appeal and have your assessment raised.
If you have questions about Allegheny County property assessments or appeals, please don’t hesitate to contact Flaherty & Fardo. We offer free consultations for your Allegheny County tax appeal and work hard to get you the assessment you deserve.