If you are a property owner in Allegheny County you need to hear what Flaherty Fardo's resident tax assessment "Queen" Nicole Hauptman Amick has to say about:
The STEB ratio recalculation
Can people who settled 2022 appeals refile in 2023?
A prediction about the millage rates
Why a reassessment would be a good thing.
What will be the ratio for 2024?
Will a reassessment mean higher taxes for everyone?
And what we can learn from Nicole's personal tax appeal story!
SCHEDULE YOUR TAX ASSESSMENT REVIEW WITH NICOLE NOW!
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I strenuously object a legal podcast brought to you by the Pittsburgh law firm of Flaherty fardo is now in session all those seeking information about the law and legal matters affecting the people of Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania half-baked opinions and a dose of self-indulgence are invited to attend and participate I want the truth you can't handle the truth the defense strenuously objects you
call the first witness hello out there everyone and welcome once again to I strenuously object uh in an episode I'd like to essentially describe as my godfather 3 episode that is to say just what I thought I was out they pulled me back in so we thought recently we got some measure of certainty and kind of settledness with the the situation with the CLR and Allegheny County property tax Appeals maybe we were a little premature there there's still a lot of chaos out there to sort our way through and some late breaking news that we do want to bring to everyone's attention so uh yet again in her regular and ongoing appearance here it is the queen of tax appeals Nicole Amick here to join us yet again and to talk again about what since last time we talked what's changed uh in the in the world of property tax appeals so Nicole what I want to do today uh without formulating it in terms of the five questions three questions that we did last time on it is kind of go chronologically because there's a there's there is at least some amount of news for essentially every type of tax people that's still out there right now so first of all hello how are you hello I'm good I like your shirt for our listeners Bill shirt says sorry I'm late I saw a dog upon first meeting my now wise family one of her family members indicated that perhaps my best feature and I feel like it's damned with faint praise uh but my best feature was the way in which I react to dogs uh in response to that my wife then undertook a period of time where basically every shirt she purchased me for every gift giving holiday and or just because was dog themed in some form or fashion this shirt being being one of those so I agree with that analysis of you Bill so that's good I'd like to think I have some other things going for me too but like I'll take it I feel like I react positively to dogs in the way that all sane rational normal human beings should react positively to dogs what Thane human beings should not do uh is assume that we're anywhere near the end of the road here when it comes to the property tax situation here in Allegheny County so first of all with respect to 2022 appeals and the Commonwealth courts order the step recalculate the ratio uh and those old appeals that are still open and out there what's the situation so stub did in fact recalculate the 2022 ratio so that's the ratio being used for 2022 appeals they affirmed the judge hertzberg previous order issuing the ratio of being 63.5 for 2022 so we're now waiting to see if any appeals are filed to challenge that but it seems like there is some general consensus that that may resolve at least the 2022 issue now when you say resolve the 2022 issue you mean specifically what ratio is going to be used correct because we're still waiting for thousands of decisions for last year so they've been waiting for basically this information before issuing them and there might be a slight rounding difference from the way I was reading the articles I couldn't quite tell that is it looked like maybe judge hertzberg's order went to the hundredth of a percent correct but stem's calculation only went to the tenth of a percent which might make a difference for a sufficiently high valued property but otherwise you're you're not talking about a whole lot uh when you're talking about like 0.03 correct but there remains another issue with 2022 appeals which is what about people who settled 2022 appeals last year or early this year and then the appeal period opened back up and people have tried to file essentially re-appeals right file a 2022 appeal for a case where a 2022 appeal was previously filed and adjudicated uh what's going on with those cases so when we're talking about adjudicated to be clear if there was a case that was filed in 2022 at bpar which is the first level and then withdrawn or someone didn't appear to it they had the option of refiling an appeal in 2022 so that was someone that just had been at the beginning part of the process they were permitted to file a new appeal and try again basically for people that adjudicated the 2022 tax year at the board of viewers and also the 2023 tax year at the board of viewers basically once you've adjudicated a tax year at a part of the Court of Common Pleas which is what the board of viewers is the office of property assessments has taken the position that you cannot reopen that tax year because there is a court order stating what the value is for that tax year so even though Allegheny County Council opened up 2022 appeals to Property Owners they did not open up appeals then basically if you already settled your case at the board of viewers for that year and so that's led to some confusion because that wasn't something that was specifically discussed with Allegheny County Council obviously there's a lot of wrinkles when you do these things that you know they're not considering every single situation but there wasn't anything that stated specifically that that was how they were going to deal with that specific situation but that is how they are dealing with it right now at the office of property assessments and basically saying you're already done for 2022 if you filed a new 2023 appeal that's fine but once the court order is listed for that tax year you're done for that year okay so let me try to follow this through just a little bit so if you settled your 2022 appeal at the board of viewers in like late 2022 or early 2023 maybe or maybe not while there was some news and confusion where it was uncertain what this number was but certainly before this number was set in any meaningful Way by a court order or eventually by step in its final form you made that settlement with some idea in your head of what the appropriate CLR was to reduce your market value for 2022 your your current market value to a base year value everyone who's who's doing these cases litigating these cases ultimately settling these cases is doing that with the the stab ratio at any given time is one of the foremost factors in their head and everyone who reached an adjudication or a settlement for 2022 until a couple months ago all those people had the wrong number in their head correct correct it's I mean it's been such a roller coaster there's been so many developments but like I was telling you before we got on today I settled my personal house I settled my case which was a board of viewers case that I was handling obviously um on behalf of myself I settled it in January of 2022. so the 2022 attacker was included in that and I settled it for a ratio well above 63.5 percent because I obviously had no idea this was going to happen no one did so I settled my own case in many other cases um for what at that time was below the ratio that we thought it was going to be and now I cannot go back and reappeal that year even though things have changed significantly since then so um it is a difference and you say change significantly but it's not just that the reason it's changed significantly is everyone agrees the county did the math wrong or did the data wrong that they then sent the step to do the math incorrect data was sent by one of the taxing entities so it's not as if this was you know kind of a mutual mistake this is a mistake by one of the parties to these Board of viewers procedures and still people are being told that they can't open this case back up correct and and there is a distinction which you were referencing before of a case that was settled for example in January or February of 2022 and a case that was settled in November of 2022 because by then we at least had some idea that that number was going to change in January or February of 2022 we did not I mean there's always cases pending challenging stuff about assessments you never know what's going to happen with them like any other court case so I certainly wouldn't hold off on resolving cases because something's pending because then you would never solve anything you would never resolve any case but um it is frustrating uh both personally and on behalf of our clients that they have taken such a Hardline approach on it because like you said you know these are people um like myself who are being negatively impacted because basically a government entity lied so I mean that is a thing that has been basically admitted in open court so you know there's different ways you can try to file motions to reopen things but you know you're talking about expenses you're talking about time um it's an unfortunate situation that honestly you're looking at property owners who are footing the bill on all of this and are being negatively impacted by all of this so it's definitely a frustrating Wrinkle in this whole Saga okay that's 2022. and for most of the time we've been discussing the problems in 2022 we thought at least we had a set number for 2023. that seems to have put in been put into a little bit of flux too what can you tell me about that so the number for 2023 that because the ratios always come out the year before was 63.6 percent so we've known that for almost a year now recently the attorney that's been handling a majority of these cases has challenged that ratio basically stating that clearly If the ratio for 2022 is 63.5 percent the ratio for 2023 should be lower than that uh as an acknowledgment that basically property values have gone up over that period and that was a very recent development to this whole situation what's going to happen with it obviously like I said before we have no idea but one thing that I've been doing to kind of protect our clients and I've talked to a couple other attorneys about this is I had filed all the owner appeals I filed this year I filed both a 2022 and a 2023. and the reason I did that is because at the time I was filing these we didn't know what the ratio was for 2022. so I wanted to give myself options to protect our clients any way we needed to to have both of those appeals pending when we got the 22 ratio I thought maybe I should just withdraw the 2023s because then that 2022 ratio moves forward but if the 2023 ratio might change I want to have both those appeals pending as well because then we could be looking at again two different ratios over those two years so that's kind of what I'm doing right now I'm just kind of letting it ride and then we're going to see what happens well and the good news here right is unlike the the really big move for when we adjusted 2022 even if the 2023 ratio even if the data there is wrong and the number's wrong and it needs to be corrected again the change there were presumably I haven't I don't have the data and so I haven't done the math but presumably we're talking about a significantly smaller change in the order of a couple percent and not 20 percent I would guess yes I mean that that's the suggestion by the attorney that filed it is basically the ratio for 2023 should be somewhere between the 63.5 percent that it is for 2022 and then the much the lower value for 2024 which I know we're going to get into in a minute but it should be somewhere between those two which I think makes sense generally that's usually how that would go yeah I mean there's sometimes you could have a year I guess where where property values depreciate instead of appreciate where the number could pop back up but that's that's obviously uncommon it's not typically how even in kind of slow growing real estate markets they still go up not down okay so one more to bring up because as you mentioned earlier the each year they calculate the step ratio for the following year uh to be used for determining their appeals and we are now well into May uh and almost halfway through 2023 which is crazy uh so given that uh do we have any news as yet about what the ratio is or is expected to be or you know will be subject to multiple ostracies um for 2024. so stub when they announced this 2022 recalculation it was basically at the same time they announced all the 2024 ratios across the state because they do this for every County and the ratio at least right now for Allegheny County for 2024 is 54.5 wow so that that will apply to appeals filed next year not appeals that are pending not appeals that are at the board of viewers right now it applies to appeals next year that number is a significant decrease again from what we've been dealing with with uh 2022 and 2023 and may create yet another big opportunity for your property owners to be the ones filing appeals here correct correct and and something that I talk to a lot of people about daily is that is the 2024 ratio so that ratio should theoretically apply to the 2024 value of your property that does not apply to a 2020 purchase price it does not apply to a 2018 purchase price there's definitely a lot of confusion in articles that are being sent out and what people are saying about how that works but basically we would need to look at the 2024 so I'm going to be reviewing those cases next year not now but in 2024 you know say we have an issue with the debt ceiling stuff that's going on in the real estate market crashes you know all of that stuff's going to factor into stuff for next year I'm not going to review those cases now we have seen a stall in the market a little bit because of the interest rates right now so we'll see how all of that goes but again that applies to the value next year so definitely not like a blanket applying to Old purchase prices it's a case-by-case review but certainly as this Trends down down that's helpful to Property Owners I think this might be a helpful bullet point for people who and and God bless them if they made it this far into yet another crunching through CLR numbers podcast and and need this perspective Instead at this point but just so we're clear because I think a lot of people out there think that when they're reading an article that says oh hey the the new ratio for 2024 is going to be 54 and a half percent in their head what that means is everyone's assessment should be set at 54 and a half percent of their purchase price and that's not true it's only 54 and a half percent of your purchase price if you're purchasing in the year that that specific ratio applies to right if I bought my house and and this gets obvious the further you get back if I bought my house and you know 2015 uh for a hundred thousand dollars I don't get to come in now when this number changes and say well before I was assessed at a hundred thousand dollars so now I should be assessed at fifty four thousand dollars no because the theory is you would actually have to do math twice right you'd first have to take that 2016 number and bring it all the way up to the present value what is my property worth now if it was worth a hundred and then you go back down and and that's theoretically the math that's happening here right 54 and a half percent is supposed to be the number talking about now next year's number right is supposed to be the number that makes it such that a house that sells for two hundred nine thousand dollars in 2024 should be taxed the same as a house that sold for a hundred thousand dollars in twenty twelve that's how the base year works that's the whole purpose of this number right correct and it it gets confusing too because property values have gone up so significantly especially in certain areas of the county so even when I see a purchase price from 2013 or 14 if I'm looking at it from a current value approach I can find often sale prices much higher than what I think I'm going to find in terms of what they're going to support as a current assessment value so I've had a lot of people reaching out to me saying I filed appeals for 2023 because everyone told me to do it but now I have no idea what I'm doing do I have a case because I have a hearing schedule now so it's a lot of I think hysteria of saying it's it's a great time to save taxes so people are filing appeals but I will say uh for 2023 we've started hearings for that year school districts are fighting them very aggressively a lot of districts have been bringing in comps that support increases for owner appeals so I've been telling people even if they don't want to hire me just be careful because there is nothing that says just because it's an owner filed appeal the only outcome your worst case scenario is not keeping it the same your worst case scenario in some situations is an increase even though you filed an appeal so that's not to scare people but that's just to say you need to have evidence to back it up and also understand that school districts are defending these cases as is their right to do so I've seen that now that hearings have started for this year there are school districts that are bringing in sometimes what I think is very ridiculous evidence in terms of appreciation but they're doing it so just something to be aware of and I think as a general rule the following statement is correct if I've got our old sale on my property right if I bought my property a long time ago all of this news with the shifting percentages isn't good for me and in fact once everyone else's numbers adjust it might end up bad for me because everyone's going to raise their militaries yes I know I mean obviously it depends on your specifics but the one thing you said that I will absolutely agree with is next year once all these appeals pan out and districts have to start giving massive refunds which is what they're going to have to do millage rates are going to go up I think everywhere and it's going to be interesting to see what happens because we haven't seen that this year because nothing's happened yet basically we're going to see the impact of that next year the county has basically already said uh we might have to start increasing millage rates um because they're having to issue for office spaces for buildings that no one's renting anymore I mean these people are filing appeals and getting massive reductions so we're kind of seeing that where yes some people are benefiting from this but people that aren't filing appeals and their assessments just staying the same their taxes are about to go up so it's good and it's bad kind of depending on what position you're in and let me throw just a little bit more gas onto this flame here uh have you heard anything about a reassessment this is the million dollar question in Allegheny County people ask me about this all the time now no one has an answer with any definitive yes or no do we need one yes everyone that understands assessments I think agrees on that point owner reps School District reps um things have gotten so out of hand in certain areas that I think it would make sense for a lot of reasons to just kind of start over again I mean obviously we saw a reduction in the ratio being used from 2021 at 87.5 percent to 2024 at 54 percent so that's a what 33 reduction in the ratio being used over three years so it's all over the place and I think we just need to start over again um I think that would be the fairest to everyone and I think a lot of people agree on that but it's not a popular thing to do because people think if a reassessment happens everyone's taxes are going up that is not true not everyone's taxes would go up it's not the same thing but it's politically not popular that being said Sarah namorado who won the Democratic primary for County Executive has talked about the need for a reassessment so it will be interesting to see if she presumably wins the election what she will do about that there's also various pending cases that I think will ultimately potentially request it so I think the wheels are turning in that direction I think that will further be discussed next year when all of a sudden a lot of people are getting their tax bills and saying wait a second why are my taxes higher because it's going to be basically everyone um and that I think will start drawing more attention to the fact of like wait a second and I think people don't really care about this until it starts impacting them and next year that's going to be like a lot of people hundreds of thousands of people in the county I think so I think that will kind of further draw more attention to this issue and I think I would think in the next couple years someone is either going to get it court ordered or a government official is going to start championing it because again I just think it makes sense at this point yeah I mean reassessments are and have been deeply unpopular and people view them as raising their taxes when at least in theory there are actual laws in place that are supposed to keep the reassessment basically Revenue neutral so it should shift around taxes and people should go up as other people go down to kind of re-equalize things but the idea the way the law is actually written is when you do a reassessment it's supposed to be Revenue neutral unlike whatever is going to happen with everyone raising their millage rates next year to make up for this mess uh people should be less worried about a reassessment and more worried about just higher taxes generally but people often kind of conflate one for the other but because it's so unpopular right what have we seen the last two reassessments were done by the order of Court um because politically the the will wasn't there no one wanted to have to absorb the political blowback for being the one to say yes we need a reassessment and so that got voice it off onto the court system right now there's a creeping suspicion here everyone kind of thinks that one is is due but no one wants to be the one to kind of uh to flip the switch on that so we're just kind of waiting to see if uh if some political actor makes that decision or if some judge in one of the innumerable cases that keep showing up in our court system some judge finally says enough's enough time to do a reassessment yeah and I don't I don't really understand why they're politically unpopular in this in this if we just did them and did them regularly a lot of these problems wouldn't be happening and there's a lot of government money that is spent on School District appeals appeals in general so I think it would ultimately it would take a while to like get into say we did it every three years it would take a little bit of adjustment or every five years or something like that but a lot of other states and counties do it that way and you don't see like for example when I have a homeowner that bought an old Lawrenceville row house that's assessed for forty thousand and they bought it for seven hundred thousand and their taxes are going up 10 times you don't see that when you have regular reassessments so it kind of softens the blow it just kind of starts everyone at a neutral place and goes up incrementally from there as opposed to seeing these huge shifts in value so I mean I think that that's what would probably make the most sense but to start I think we need to start over I think the system is a little bit of a mess right now and um yeah that's my two cents so so just so we're clear the queen here is coming out onto the the open Airwaves of the I strenuously object podcast and specifically advocating for a policy we both agree is so unpopular that no actual political figure is willing to sign their name to it for decades at a time correct and and again the reason it's unpopular is because people don't understand what it means so I get that I mean I don't want my taxes to go up either I'm a homeowner I totally get that but when they ask the county executives are you going to increase County taxes are you going to do a reassessment they phrased it as one question it's not one question it's not the same thing so I think if people really understood what it is they wouldn't be opposed to it because that's just the fairest for literally everybody so yeah I'm in favor of it yeah I don't know uh uh I feel like I want to take the popular position here and come out against the reassessment um I'll tell you this um if the reassessment is done perfectly there would be no particularly good reason to oppose it right it's just fairness there will be individuals who are like hey I'm reaping a benefit and that benefit's going away and I feel bad for someone who's owned their property for 30 years and because it hasn't sold their taxes were low and now all of a sudden you know their individual taxes are going off right that's the problem you're going to do a reassessment and there will be X percent of the population who their taxes were lower they get reassessed now their taxes are higher and for those people they're going to blame whoever ordered the reassessment and not the decades that went before where property values got more and more out of whack although in addition to blaming who ordered the reassessment they can now blame you Nicole congratulations at the end of the day the people that are buying new properties are absorbing all of that for everybody and I've talked to many business people I mean people love complaining to me all the time and I get that but saying I don't know why I live in Pittsburgh I don't know why this is happening to me why did my company relocate me here this is not fair that this is happening then I tend to you know I tend to agree with them the system's definitely not perfect the way that it is and again it would certainly lessen the blow and avoid these massive increase of taxes if we just did this regularly instead of the way we do it now which is like piecemeal we'll figure it out as time goes on and hope for the best and I don't think it's working all right thanks again Nicole for still more information and the ever-changing environment here on property tax appeals here in Allegheny County that will do it for this episode of I strenuously object thank you for listening hope you you learned something maybe had some laughs or uh can can maybe find a route to save some money here if so Please Subscribe rate review the Pod tell your friends listen to us loudly in public so that other people overhear it whatever you have to do to help us grow now if you have any questions for our mailing it in segment feel free to email the podcast that I object at pghfirm.com we are on Instagram that's at istrenuously objective podcast and of course for any questions updates information regarding County tax appeals or any other legal matters visit flaherty fardo's website at pghfirm.com until next time some parting advice leave the gun thank you can only [Music] thank you [Music] [Applause] [Music]
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