Thousands of Allegheny County property owners are receiving property questionnaires from the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessment. Allegheny County wants to know if your property characteristics are correct (i.e # of rooms?, square footage?, improvements? etc.) Our clients are asking us if they should answer the county?
Common sense should tell property owners that if they respond with information that improves the characteristics of their property, then their property taxes may very well increase.
Today, on February 4, 2010, KDKA Radio had a news segment telling people that if they do not respond within 10 days to the County questionnaires, then Allegheny County will be sending assessors to visit and inspect just those certain properties that did not respond.
It’s not bad enough that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has already determined that the entire Allegheny County base year system is unconstitutional, now Allegheny County wants property owners to help the county raise their own property taxes and visit just some of the properties (which I think is also unconstitutional).
The bottom line is county assessors are not allowed to trespass on private property. If you see a trespasser you are allowed to call the police. Do not allow anyone allow into your home without a legal warrant or your unconditional consent. We still have constitutional rights, even in Allegheny County.
Clients have asked me, what about if I don’t answer and they can see my house from the road? I think there is greater risk in responding than in cooperating in general. There may be exceptions, and please feel free to call me if you have questions (412.802.6666).