This article will help property owners understand the most important ways to help defend property tax appeals filed by School Districts in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
The best way property owners can help defend property tax appeals filed by taxing entities is to help prove that the recorded sales price is inflated. COVID-19 and rising property market values have inflated recent sales prices. To successfully defend tax appeals, it is important to prove that the actual sales price is higher than what the market value should be. Comparable sales with prices lower than the subject certainly can help (and we will help find them), but there are also multiple ways property owners can help establish an inflated sales price.
Most homebuyers are not aware of every issue or repair necessary for the property that they just purchased. Often there are undisclosed issues that were not properly revealed by the Sellers and were not identified in any pre-closing inspection reports. Property owners should document and photograph any and all undisclosed issues as part of the tax appeal process. It is often helpful to obtain estimates of any deficiencies that would need to be disclosed if you were to list the property for sale. Getting an estimate does not mean you will need to get the repair done. In fact, the defects that work best are ones that were unknown to the buyer prior to closing and that have not yet been repaired.
Discovering new defects is not uncommon. This could be any number of things, from water damage in the basement, structural issues, foundation issues, to poor drainage in the yard. To demonstrate these issues, pictures can be extremely helpful evidence at a hearing. They can help even more when accompanied with estimates or invoices showing the cost and/or necessity to repair.
In addition, property owners are considered experts on their property and should disclose those unique circumstances which may affect market value. If there are unique circumstances about your home, property or neighborhood that harm market value, these need to be presented and shared with your lawyers. These may include:
Whatever it may be that is unique and potentially harmful to market value should be shared with your lawyers.
The biggest mistake property owners make in defending school district cases is volunteering information that could help raise your property taxes. Most tax appeal hearings in Allegheny County, PA consist of a two step appeal process. First, there is first level Board of Property Assessment Appeal and Review (BPAAR) hearing, and then a vast majority of these first level cases are appealed to the second level, Board of Viewers (BOV) hearing. It is important NOT to disclose the wrong information at the first level BPAAR hearing, or it may be used later at the BOV hearing to raise your property taxes.
Property Owners Should NOT Volunteer The Following:
There are several ways property owners can help their lawyers defend school district tax appeals. These include identifying reasons you overpaid for the property, including reviewing the closing statement; identifying undisclosed issues which were discovered after closing; as well as making sure NOT to disclose information which is not helpful. For any information about this article, or for questions about defending school district tax appeals in Allegheny County, PA, please feel free to reach out to attorneys Noah Fardo or Nicole Amick by calling 412.802.6666 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.