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Why is the School District Appealing my Property Assessment?

Since 2004, School Districts have been aggressively filing property appeals against property owners. There target has primarily been recent home buyers. Their rational is that if you bought a house for $500,000.00, and you are only assessed at $300,000.00 then your property taxes should be raised closer to your sales price.On first glance, this may seem rationale. However, it is flawed for several reasons.

First, if two neighbors are identical, and the county certifies the value of both properties at $300,000.00, then both pay taxes on an assessed value of $300,000.00. However, let’s assume, one of the houses then sells for $500,000.00. The school district will file a property tax appeal against the one property only based upon the recent sale price.In essence, the school districts want to establish that two identical should be assessed differently because one of them sold. We believe it is unconstitutional to assess identical properties differently.

Second, a sale price is not always indicative of the true market value. Property owners often pay higher or lower than the true price of a property for many reasons. We have had clients move to Pittsburgh from New York, Virginia, and California, all areas where market values were substantially higher. These owners all substantially overpaid for properties based upon their prior locations and the real estate markets in those locations. Also, Judge Wettick’s November 10, 2009 Opinion and Order of Court further clarified in a 33 page Opinion why appealing just the recent home buyers makes the use of an indefinite base year unconstitutional.

Written by
Shawn T. Flaherty
Shawn T. Flaherty, Esq. is the founding partner of Flaherty Fardo, LLC. His efforts are focused in Pennsylvania personal injury law and business litigation. He is a former Pennsylvania State Representative for the 30th Legislative District of Pennsylvania.