School districts and municipalities in Allegheny County have the right to appeal both the 2012 and 2013 PA school property tax assessment of any property. We are seeing that many school districts are appealing any assessment that is at least $10,000 less than the recent purchase price of the subject property. If your property was recently appealed, here is some information you should know.

Defending 2012 & 2013 PA School Property Tax Appeals

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1. A 2012 appeal is still based on a 2002 assessment.

a. This means that the property should be assessed at what the property was worth as of January 1, 2002.

b. The school district has the burden of proof.

c. Pennsylvania law is clear that a recent sales price can be persuasive, but is not conclusive of market value. Hence, if the school district does not provide any evidence other than the sales price, they should not meet their burden of proof for either 2012 or 2013.

2. If a property is appealed for 2013, and has a prior appeal pending, they are consolidated at the Allegheny County Board of Viewers (BOV).

3. For 2012 appeals of the PA school property tax, focus on what comparable properties SOLD for between 2000 and 2002. This is the best evidence of base year market value.

4. For 2013 appeals of the PA school property tax, focus on what comparable properties SOLD for between 2010 and 2012.

5. If a taxing entity does provide comparable sales to support their opinion of value, make sure to review and cross-examine copies of their evidence.

a. Local rules at the Board of Property Assessment and Review (BPAAR) require that 3 copies of any evidence must be presented at the hearing.

b. If the school district does not provide copies, they should not be allowed to offer any evidence.

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6. Comparing assessments should never be your primary argument. However, it can sometimes be worth mentioning other assessments if there is an obvious lack of uniformity on a street or in a specific area.

7. Research your neighbors’ PA school property tax assessments who have already been appealed. It can be very persuasive if you know what other cases on your street have settled for.

8. If you are not happy with a decision, make sure to consider filing subsequent appeals. There is a 3 level appeal process for the reassessments.

9. Be careful about appearing in person. We have witnessed school districts rely on the cross-examination of the property owners in an attempt to prove their case. Property Owners can be questioned about mortgages, appraisals, and improvements.

10. If you hire representation, be sure to hire an attorney with actual real estate trial experience. It can be advantageous in negotiations if the school district attorney respects that your attorney will take the case to trial if necessary.

Read more about Allegheny County property assessment appeals.

If you have any questions about Allegheny County property assessments or real estate in Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact us at Flaherty and Fardo for a free consultation.