This article will help readers understand the strategic advantages of how appealing your property taxes this year (2011), before the March 31, 2011 deadline, may save Allegheny County property owners thousands by preempting the 2012 reassessments.
I. The 2012 Allegheny County Property Assessments are Coming.
In July 2011, Allegheny County is scheduled to release new preliminary assessments to over 580,000 property owners and most agree that property taxes are expected to increase dramatically. Many of our clients are asking us what they can do, if anything, to preempt the 2012 reassessments?
II. Get Your Property Assessment Locked by Already being under Appeal.
To understand our argument, you must first understand the simple assessment process in Allegheny County.
Property Tax Appeals in Allegheny County are broken into two categories. First, appeals to the BPAR (Board of Property Assessment Appeal & Review), and then second, appeals to the BOV (Board of Viewers). The Process through both hearings typically takes between 1 to 3 years, and is retroactive to the original filing date.
Of utmost importance here, is that Allegheny County locks property assessments for any cases already under appeal. Meaning, the new 2012 assessment cannot go into effect until the underlying appeal in resolved. With property assessments expected to rise significantly in 2012, property owners may be best served by already being under appeal, and negotiating from a position of strength rather than weakness.
A property in Fox Chapel is assessed in 2011 for $600,000. The 2012 reassessment is expected to increase to $850,000. If the property owner takes no action, the assessment will be raised to $850,000, and the property owner will be forced to file an appeal and argue for a reduction from the starting point of $850,000. Worse, the property owner may be forced to pay the property taxes on the higher amount pending the lengthy appeals process.
To the contrary, if the property owner has a basis for appeal in 2011, and the appeal carries into 2012, the assessment may remain locked at $600,000 pending the appeal. When the BOV hearing is finally scheduled, the property owner may be negotiating from a starting point of $600,000 rather than a starting point of $850,000.
III. In 2011, you can use a Base Year (2002) or Fair Market Value (2011) as a basis for your appeal.
What makes this preemption possible, is that in 2011, you can argue for a property tax reduction using either a base year (2002) methodology or a fair market value (2011) methodology. Hence, if you believe your property was worth less in either 2002 or in 2011, than the current assessment, you may have a basis for appeal. This can be especially true for commercial property owners who have had a change in vacancy rates or cash flow. We believe this will be the last year to argue for a reduction based upon the 2002 base year.
IV. The deadline for 2011 appeals is March 31, 2011.
Certainly, every case is fact specific, and property owners should be aware that anytime an appeal is filed, the property assessment can be lowered, sustained or even raised and all property owners should seek proper legal counsel before filing a 2011 tax appeal.
However, there are many property owners who will benefit from timely filing a 2011 property tax appeal in an effort to both save property taxes in 2011, and preempt the 2012 reassessment.
If you have questions concerning your current property assessment, and whether this strategy makes sense for your residential or commercial property, then call Noah Paul Fardo, Esquire, for a free consultation (412.802.6666).
V. The Bottom Line.
The bottom line is that if you believe your current property assessment is higher than either A) the value of the property in 2002; OR B) higher than the current fair market value of the property in 2011, then you should call us immediately (412.802.6666) to understand the unique opportunity of saving money this year and preempting the 2012 reassessments.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. Property Owners should not file or pursue property tax appeals without first consulting an experienced tax attorney.