Since 1997 | Your Pittsburgh Law Firm
Your Pittsburgh Law Firm
Flaherty | Fardo | Rogel | Amick

Allegheny County Property Assessment Lawyers

Tax Appeals

Top Allegheny County Tax Appeal Lawyers

Since 1999, very few law firms have the experience of Flaherty Fardo with regards to tax appeals.

  • Over 7,000 clients assisted
  • Over $100 Million in property taxes saved
  • Over $250 Million in reduced property assessments
  • Free consultations for all commercial and residential tax appeals

Attorneys Noah Fardo and Nicole Hauptman Amick have over 30+ years combined experience in handling Allegheny County property tax assessment appeals. This does not guarantee results, but does demonstrate our extensive and unique experience in handling property tax appeals. More importantly, we are grateful for the hundreds of referrals from past clients and sincerely try to treat each client and case as unique. The success of our property tax appeal business has been based primarily on satisfied clients.

Why is the School District appealing my property taxes?

In 2022, thousands of tax appeals will be filed against recent homebuyers. This the continued trend of taxing entities such as the school districts filing appeals because a sale price is higher than the current property assessment. There are serious legal questions regarding the legality of such action. Specifically when a recent purchase price is higher than the assessments of all of their neighbors. In these cases, recent homebuyers are almost always taxed higher than their neighbors and we believe is a violation of the law requiring the uniformity of property assessments. Allegheny County is using a 2012 Base Year for assessments, and no one believes that a sale price in 2012 is consistent with current market values.

The good news is that these tax appeals filed by the school districts can be defended and help mitigate any property tax increase. The first argument should always be that the purchase priced exceeded the fair market value. This can be done by finding comparable properties which have sold for less. Believe us they exist. A properly prepared comparative sales analysis can be very useful in mitigating tax increases.

Read more about Defending School District Tax Appeals.

Free Case Reviews

We offer free no-obligation reviews of your property assessment. If you have been appealed we will help analyze the potential tax increase and whether our fee would justify our assistance.

For a free consultation, feel free to email nicole@pghfirm.com or call our offices at 412.802.6666.

Here are Some Helpful Resources For Property Owners

There is a wealth of public information that property owners should know when fighting a tax appeal case.

  • SEE OUR FAQ's at the bottom of this page.
  • The Allegheny County Real Estate Website - This is the website that allows a free search of all property information in Allegheny County, PA and can help identify your property assessment.
  • The Allegheny County assessment home page offers additional information about the appeals process, and forms.
  • READ: Hints and Tips for 2020 Tax Appeals for Property Owners. This is an article we wrote to help property owners understand some more information about appeals.
  • This Property tax calculator is a good tool for estimating property taxes and understanding the actual tax differences based upon an assessment change.
  • Here are links to the Municipal millage rates and School district millage rates for Allegheny County. These will help you calculate the actual taxes charged and potential tax savings. The millage rates are the rates that are multiplied by the assessment to determine the actual property taxes.
  • If you want to find a list of recently sold properties, you can check various real estate websites that list this information such as realtor.com or zillow.com, but we don't believe these tools are as productive as an actual searchable database of the county information which can also be subscribed to online but costs significantly more.

Case Results

Past success does not guarantee results but does help demonstrate our experience and knowledge as successful Pennsylvania trial attorneys.

$100 Million

Tax Appeals - Real Results

Over the last 20 years, the tax appeal attorneys of Flaherty Fardo have helped thousands of property owners help to reduce their property taxes. Our efforts have saved our clients in excess 100 Million dollars in actual property taxes. 

Over 7,000+ Clients

Tax Appeals - Experience Matters.

Since 1999, we have helped well over seven thousand property owners in western Pennsylvania save millions of dollars in actual property taxes. Our clients have included owner appeals for commercial and residential property owners who were over-assessed, as well as defense of tax appeals filed by the school district and/or other taxing entities. 

$10.5+ Million

Tax Appeals - Reducing Commercial Properties.

Attorney Noah Fardo obtained a $10.5+ Million Dollar property tax reduction on a commercial property saving our client over $300,000 annually in property taxes. The result was the effort of using multiple approaches to value to obtain the best result for our client.

Flaherty | Fardo | Rogel | Amick

What Our Clients Say

"We had such a positive experience. They were responsive, prompt, completely professional. They communicated clearly, gave us honest assessments, were 100% reliable and kept on top of everything over a long period of time. (They were the opposite of predatory, for what it's worth.) And...the outcome was very good. Highly recommend."

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Jake Goodman

"We had such a positive experience. They were responsive, prompt, completely professional. They communicated clearly, gave us honest assessments, were 100% reliable and kept on top of everything over a long period of time. (They were the opposite of predatory, for what it's worth.) And...the outcome was very good. Highly recommend."

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Jake Goodman

"After a building permit for a small exterior repair triggered a crazy hike in the tax assessment of my properties, I hired a different legal firm to make the initial appeal to the Board of Property Assessment. After receiving a denial on the appeal, I turned to Attorney Nicole Hauptman Amick of Flaherty Fardo, LLC for our last recourse, a Common Pleas hearing in front of the Allegheny County Board of Viewers (BOV). Since this was our final shot at appeal my husband and myself were leery about turning this over to another law firm rather than attempting representation ourselves. However, after meeting with Nicole, we were so deeply impressed with her demeanor and knowledge of the process, we agreed to let her handle the appeal. What a good decision! Within WEEKs she met with the representatives of the taxing bodies and worked out a very fair settlement. We were delighted! I cannot recommend Nicole and Flaherty Fardo, LLC enough."

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Mary Virginia Shea

"I was shopping around to find a firm to handle property assessment appeals for two of my rentals. They were way too high. It was only Nicole that expressed confidence that she could get the assessments for both properties lowered. And she did! She kept me in the loop for the entire process and won both appeals."

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Mark Yingling

"Working with Noah I’ve appreciated his fair and practical approach to getting things done. He fears nothing and goes about his business professionally and effectively. His colleagues and staff are always caring and timely. I especially appreciated step by step explanations and details keeping me comfortable thru the legal events. Online documents are convenient and I will continue to call on Noah for my advice and legal needs. Thanks for all."

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Anonymous

"Attorney Fardo and his staff were responsive, available and walked me through the complex legal process in a simple and compassionate way. Incredible team!"

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Anonymous

"I’ve been with Noah for over 10 years. His firm has represented myself and my three corporations over the last 10 years. He has been the best lawyer I’ve ever been a client of. The personal attention to each case I get from him and his colleagues is remarkable."

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Anonymous

"I’ve worked with Noah for over two decades and he has represented me in multiple cases, from civil litigation, tax issues, small business matters, to my divorce. He and his staff are very approachable and provide updates throughout the process. I have always felt very comfortable and at ease knowing that Noah is a simple phone call away for any of my legal needs."

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Anonymous

"Noah and his team are the absolute best. They took a very painful time of my life and completely made it so much better. They are very respectful of your situation and always answered questions in a timely manner. I do not know what would have happened if it wasn't for Noah. I cannot express how thankful I am for Noah and his team. There cannot possibly be anyone better!!!"

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Anonymous

"Noah was referred by a long time friend. He responded quickly and made me feel supported. My personal injury case was pursued and settled to my great satisfaction. Everything about our interactions was exceptionally professional. His practice includes a team of dedicated professionals and state of the art facilities. Scheduling of depositions, record retrieval, and video conferencing went conveniently and smoothly. This was the first time I needed a lawyer; I’m glad I met Noah."

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Ralph

"My firm provides business consulting services to the healthcare space. I have referred Noah and members of his team to many clients over the years. He provides the type of personal service that my clients demand of me. I appreciate the personal services and look at his team as an extension of mine."

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Kevin

"I have had three lawyers prior to hiring Mr. Fardo. He has out done each and every other lawyer I have ever had. Great knowledge and very responsive. I have been with this Lawfirm for 15 years and they have helped me with all of my business and personal legal issues. Thanks Mr. Fardo"

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Eddie

"We were referred to Noah of which became a blessing for us. It's sometimes an uneasy feeling working with someone you don't know. Noah made us feel very comfortable and yet held that professionalism needed to give us the confidence we needed in him. He kept us informed of every aspect of the case and at times we would have never expected we would receive Emails from him. He is extremely considerate of not only the party he is representing but others as well. All of the Ratings above do not fulfill the feelings we have for Noah. If you need an Attorney, this is the Man you WANT."

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W. David

"Mr. Fardo is one of the few attorneys left who properly charges you for his time. He has never overcharged me, he stays focused even though he has many cases going on at one time. His staff is very professional and knowledgeable. I would absolutely recommend Mr.Fardo to anybody."

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Joe

"I currently reside in NC, and every time I require an attorney, I find myself comparing them to Noah. PA is lucky to have him. In terms of litigation, you can't find anyone better."

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Camille

"NOAH HAS BEEN A GREAT ATTORNEY AND FRIEND FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS. HE ALWAYS LISTENS AND IS EASY TO TALK TO. HE TREATS MY FAMILY AND I LIKE WE ARE APART OF HIS FAMILY. THE STAFF AS WELL IS ALWAYS HELPFUL AND KIND."

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Charlie

"Noah's level of knowledge and professionalism in handling our property appeal clearly makes him a standout above the rest. It's a comfort to know that you are handing your concerns over to a trusted friend and advocate."

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Anonymous

"Noah has not only represented me in the past, but, as a fellow attorney, I never hesitate to make referrals to Noah. He is very professional, does an excellent job, cares about his clients, and responds promptly to calls and concerns of both current clients and prospective clients."

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Jamie

"I have known and worked with Noah Fardo for years. He has always been extremely professional and goes the extra mile for everyone. His work ethic and passion are second to none. His firm has always kept me well informed every step of the way. I couldn't be happier with his work and I highly recommend Noah and his firm."

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Anthony

"I required Noah's services for a property tax appeal as well as a shareholder labor dispute with a former company. I found Noah to be well accessible, sensitive to my needs and concerns and focused on doing what is best for me - the client. I found Noah to be very aggressive with my case while staying ethical in the process. I would highly recommend Noah Fardo and his firm."

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Anonymous

"Attorney Fardo was extremely knowledgeable and helpful in regards to estate planning for my grandmother. He was able to assist my family with many complex issues and saved us a substantial amount of money. I would definitely retain his legal services for other issues that may arise in the future and would highly recommend him to anyone seeking legal counsel."

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Lisa

"I've had the pleasure of knowing Noah Fardo for more than ten years. Over time he has represented me on a number of matters. Noah is conspicuously bright and exceptionally knowledgeable. That said, his best asset is his moral compass. Noah is a genuinely good person and can always be relied upon to do the right thing for his client. I enthusiastically recommend and endorse Noah Fardo."

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Tony

"Had a small employment case, and Noah handled it with tenacity. He gave me updates about twice a week and what he said would happen in the beginning is exactly what played out. He acted as a true advocate and was worth every penny."

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Brian

"I have used Attorney Fardo as an attorney for over 10 years for personal and professional matters. In my professional career I have had dealings with dozens of attorneys. I chose to use Noah Fardo because of his accessibility and common sense attitude. Noah advises me on many issues and is always willing to listen, understand and recommend a course of action. It's a comfort to know that I can pick up the phone and talk to noah in person whenever the need arises unlike many law firms."

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Ron

"I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Fardo and his handling of my legal issues. He is in constant contact letting me know of any new developments. His professionalism and tireless preparation have made a difficult time much smoother to deal with. When you truly feel as if your attorney has your best interest at heart, it becomes very easy to step back and allow them to do their job. From very early on in my meetings with Mr. Fardo, he had my complete trust. He is trustworthy, has a great command of the law and is tenacious...in short, everything I had hoped for when I chose my lawyer."

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Daniel

"Nicole Hauptman Amick went above and beyond for my husband and I to get a very reasonable settlement on our school taxes on our new house. Her and the company went above and beyond for us. She was very easy to get a hold of, answered in a timely manner, and was not over priced like other places I got quotes from. She did all the leg work for us and represented us in person without us needing to go. I HIGHLY recommend her to anyone who needs an attorney."

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Kimberly

"Nicole was able to negotiate a settlement on my property taxes that exceeded my expectations. She diligently followed up on the appeal which expedited the process and clearly communicated throughout the process. I really appreciated her hard work."

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Brent

"Nicole did an excellent job in handling my assessment appeal. I found out they were raising my assessment late and only had a few days left to file. I hired her immediately and she filed everything quickly and kept me informed of the whole process. Basically it only took about ten weeks to get everything done successfully.I got a $150,000 reduction in my assessment. I would highly recommend her to anyone in need of assessment appeals."

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John

"A process that can be very painful, Nicole Hauptman and the Law office of FlahertyFardo made it fast, easy and simple. Exceeded our expectations in winning our appeal case to reduce our tax assessment. She kept us well informed throughout the process and handled everything for us. We did not even need to attend any of the hearings. Althought the appeal process was lenghty it was worth the wait."

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Lisa

"From start to finish Nicole was prompt returning emails and the whole process was seamless. She worked hard to get my property assessment down dramatically and when I asked her to try to get it a little lower she succeeded. Nicole is prompt, knowledgeable and not afraid to take a chance to rise above where others would not."

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Rick

"Nicole did a superb job in appealing my real estate assessment case. She has excellent listening skills, is very well organized, knows how to evaluate the key facts in a situation, and how to successfully negotiate solutions in difficult situations, The bottom line is that Nicole knows how to get results."

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Perry

"Nicole helped us with our Allegheny County property tax appeal..She gave great front end advice on a strategy of how to proceed and executed the strategy in the face of an extremely flawed county system ..Nicole navigated of course through to a successful conclusion ..She was very competent , kept us informed and was a pleasure to deal with..I got the impression that she and her firm , really care about their clients..I would certainly use their services again , if needed."

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Dan

I am an out of State client, over 1500 miles away, and through the 2 years of work on my case I never met anyone from the firm in person, yet they treated me like I lived down the street from the office.

I am very pleased with the professional teamwork, and their patience and timely responses to my requests and to the task at hand. They did all they could do to help with the difficult facts of my case, and I am pleased with the outcome. I would recommend this law firm to anyone with the assurance they would offer the same quality service to them as they did to me. Thank you Flaherty Fardo.

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Carole J. Boyd

"Couldn't have asked for a better experience. They are a wonderful group who are efficient, patient, communicative and do their job very well.They kept me in the loop the whole time and were extremely helpful. I have used a different firm in the past and this was like night and day. If you are considering using Flaherty Fardo for your assessment appeal (or likely anything else they practice) then you found what you are looking for. A special thank you to Nicole who spearheaded my case and answered my never-ending questions. Top notch!"

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Glenn Birk
Pittsburgh skyline and bridge

Pittsburgh Commercial Property Tax Appeal Lawyers

In addition to residential tax appeals, our Pittsburgh tax lawyers have significant commercial property tax appeal experience. Commercial tax appeals are typically more complex and often involve larger financial disputes. We have successfully handled a broad range of commercial tax appeals throughout western Pennsylvania including but not limited to:

  • large shopping malls,
  • commercial apartment buildings,
  • restaurants,
  • strip malls,
  • car washes,
  • industrial sites,
  • car dealerships,
  • warehouses,
  • steel mills,
  • manufacturing plants,
  • vacant commercial lots, and
  • motels and hotels.

In 2022, we believe there will be a significant increase in filings in Allegheny County for commercial property tax appeals as a result of the pandemic. If your business has lost revenue, or there has been vacancies in space as a result of the COVID-19, please contact us for a free evaluation of your commercial property so that we may help adjust the property taxes accordingly.

Flaherty | Fardo | Rogel | Amick

Tax Appeals

 FAQ

What Is A Property Assessment?

A property assessment is the value that is used to determine property taxes on your property. In Allegheny County, PA, the County is the government entity that determines the assessment for each property in Allegheny County. A property assessment can be appealed every single year in Allegheny County either by the property owner or any interested taxing jurisdiction.

Every property owner in Allegheny County, PA pays three (3) different property taxes, which are:

  1. County Taxes;
  2. School District Taxes; and
  3. Local (Borough or Township Taxes).

You can find your current Allegheny County assessment value, listed as “2022 Full Base Year Market Value”, at the County website here.

The County assessed value directly determines what your County tax, school district tax and local property tax will be every single calendar year. All three property taxes are calculated using the same County property assessment. Therefore, the lower your property assessment, the lower your property taxes.

From 2002 through 2012, Allegheny county utilized a 2002 base year. Beginning in 2012, the reassessment values reflected a 2012 base year, to be used for taxation purposes in the 2013 tax year moving forward. Your 2022 property assessment value should therefore reflect the fair market value of your property as of January 1, 2012. It is not known when the next Allegheny County Reassessment will occur.

Sometimes you will notice that there are two different property assessments listed on the Allegheny County website. The reason one of these is assessments is sometimes less, is that the county allows a ACT 50 - HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION of $18,000.00 if the property is your primary residence. If the Homestead Exemption application is filed, the property assessment will be $18,000.00 less for County tax purposes only. The school district and local property taxes will still be based on the full county assessed value.

How Do I Calculate My Property Taxes?

Again, there are three (3) different property taxes (County, School and Local).

Allegheny County Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the county property assessment by the current millage rate for each specific taxing entity and then adding all three tax bills. The County millage rate for 2022 is 4.73. Each school district and local taxing entity (municipality/borough or township) sets their own specific millage rates each year.

Here is an EXAMPLE of how to calculate Allegheny County property taxes:

Let's assume Allegheny County issues a property assessed value of $100,000.

Next, you would multiply the $100,000 assessment times each specific millage rate.

  • County millage rate: 4.73 (county tax = $473/year)
  • School District millage rate: 20.00 (school taxes would = $2,000/year)
  • Local millage rate: 5.00 (local tax = $500/year)

In this example, a property assessed at $100,000 would pay a total of $2,973/year in property taxes. Typically, the school district millage rate is largest but not always. Most properties in Allegheny County pay a total of around 30 mills, or roughly $3,000 in total property taxes for every $100,000 a property is assessed at. This of course varies based on the millage rates and can be as lower as 22+/-mills and as high as as 55+/-mills. So depending on the location of the property the same $100,000 assessed property can pay as low as $2,200 in total property taxes or as high as $5,500 in total taxes.

For more information about the current municipality tax millage rates in Allegheny County - see the following:

Who Sets Millage (Taxation) Rates in Allegheny County, PA?

The County tax millage is set by the Allegheny County Council. School district tax millages are set by local school boards. Municipal (local) tax millage rates are set by individual municipalities. The County millage rate is typically set by the end of each calendar year for the following year. The setting of millage rates for local taxes and school district taxes varies across the County, as some of these bodies operate on a calendar year, while others operate on a fiscal year. All millage rates are usually set by the end of June of any given year for the following year.

What Is The 2012 Base Year and Does it Still Matter?

The 2012 Base Year is the year in which the last Allegheny County-wide reassessment occurred. Yes, it still matters because it means that all properties should be valued with an effective assessment value of January 1, 2012.

For 2022 taxation purposes (and for future years until the next reassessment), the base year is 2012. Therefore, for 2022 property appeals, all assessed values should represent the estimated base year market value of the property as of January 1, 2012.

This value (even under a 2012 Base Year) can be changed due to permits, appeals, property information corrections, flood loss or catastrophic loss. The goal of Base Year methodology is to allow similar homes to have similar assessments until the next County-wide reassessment. This is often questioned when school districts appeal only more recent sales, and can make determining current assessments more complicated the more time that elapses between reassessments.

How Was My Current Allegheny County Property Assessment Calculated?

For the 2012 reassessment, Allegheny County hired Tyler Technologies to conduct the most recent reassessment. Allegheny County Office of Property Assessment also hired County assessors to use a computer assisted mass appraisal system (CAMA) to help determine property assessment values.

The goal was to determine value primarily by comparison with sales from 2009, 2010 and 2011 on properties with similar characteristics within your defined neighborhood.

The assessment for your property could have changed from the original reassessment value based on tax appeals, building permits, or various exemptions which could apply to the property.

Is My Current Assessment Value Correct?

Current assessment values are NOT supposed to represent current market value.

Since we are using a 2012 Base Year, it is not as simple as answering: "What is your property worth?" Your property is NOT supposed to be assessed at 100% of current market value. To the contrary, the longer the time period that elapses from the 2012 Base Year, the lower the assessment should now be relative to actual market value. Most property owners are confused about the 2012 Base Year and how it can be used as an argument to lower property taxes.

There are several ways to argue that a commercial or residential property is now over-assessed. If you have any questions whether you can lower your property taxes, you should seek a free tax appeal consultation with our attorneys by emailing info@pghfirm.com.

How Do I Lower My Property Tax Bill?

The best way to lower your property tax bill is to lower your property assessment value. You can lower your property taxes in Allegheny County, PA by appealing and lowering your current property assessment value. The lower the property assessment, the lower the property taxes which are due.

Other options, outside of the tax appeal process can include applying and receiving an abatement or exemption. Allegheny County lists the Tax Abatements and Exemptions on the Allegheny County real estate website which include:

  • County Act 50 (Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion)
  • Act 76 (LERTA) Act 77 (Senior Citizen Property Tax Relief)
  • Act 132 (Residential Visitability Design Tax Credit Program)
  • Act 156-PA (Clean & Green Program)
  • Act 202 (New Construction) Exemptions (for Non-Profit Organizations and Governmental Entities)

Property owners with a primary residence within the County are generally entitled to the Act 50 Homestead Exclusion tax abatement. If a property owner wishes to file for this Exclusion, they must file the appropriate paperwork by March 1st of that calendar year. In 2022, this Exclusion entitles property owners to a $18,000 reduction in their assessment value for County taxes only. To determine if your property already has this exemption, you can find this information on the County website or on your County tax bill.

Where Can I Get An Annual Tax Appeal Form for Allegheny County?

Any property owner can appeal their property taxes every calendar year, if there is no pending tax appeal for the property.

Allegheny County tax appeal forms are also available during the relevant appeal period on the Allegheny County website here. Allegheny County property assessment appeal forms are also available in person on the third floor of the County Office Building at 542 Forbes Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

How Do I Know My Assessment Appeal Form Was Received?

You can check your property Allegheny County Assessment website to confirm receipt of your appeal form or Contact the Office of Property Assessments Public Information Line at 412-350-4600.  

Be careful about confirming the status of your appeal online. Though the Allegheny County website does have an “appeal status” tab that will show if your appeal form has been processed, it is not always accurate. We always recommend that property owners send in two copies of the appeal form, and ask that a time-stamped copy be returned to them when it has been received by the Office of Property Assessments. This helps to protect the property owner down the road if there are any issues with the appeal form being misplaced or mishandled.

What Is The Deadline For Filing An Annual Appeal Form?

The appeal deadline for 2022 is March 31, 2022. An appeal filed in 2022 would constitute a 2022 appeal, and apply only to 2022 and year(s) moving forward. The 2022 appeal form must be postmarked by March 31, to be accepted for the 2022 tax year.

When And Where Does The Board Of Appeals Meet?

Allegheny County has an actual Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review (BPAAR) which typically meets every other Thursday at 8:00 am in Room 328 of the County Office Building at Forbes and Ross Streets in downtown Pittsburgh. You can view the Board Meeting Schedule online or call the Office of Property Assessments at (412) 350-4600 to ask when the next meeting is.

How Long Does It Take to Get A Tax Appeal Hearing Date?

Hearings at the BPAAR are typically scheduled between April and September of every calendar year.

According to the Allegheny County website, the Office of Property Assessments will, “Send you advance notice of the hearing date 14 days for residential, 30 days for commercial."

If you are unable to attend the scheduled hearing, a postponement can be requested from the Office of Property Assessments. Postponement request forms can be found on the Allegheny County real estate website and must be sent at least 7 days prior to the listed hearing.  Emergency requests to postpone may also be submitted, and must be sent to the Office of Property Assessments.  All taxing bodies must also be made aware of this request by written notice. During the pandemic all hearings have been via telephone only, and parties have had to exchange information at least 5 days before the hearing occurs.

What If I Miss My Scheduled Hearing Or I Am Out of Town?

If you have questions about the timelines of an appeal form or a scheduled hearing date, you should call the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessment public information center. The staff is typically very helpful.

If you miss the hearing entirely, you would need to make a request directly with the Board of Property Assessments Appeals & Review (BPAAR) to have the hearing rescheduled.  The Board of Property Assessment as described above would hear your request and either approve or deny your request.  If the request for a rescheduled hearing is denied, you would then have the option of further appealing this decision to the General Motions Judge at the Court of Common Pleas. Call us with any questions 412.802.6666 if that happens and we would be happy to help guide you.

Can I Postpone My Allegheny County Tax Appeal Hearing?

Yes. At least once. Call the Office of Property Assessment at 412-350-4600. You have "the right to postpone a scheduled assessment appeal hearing only once.” (Source Allegheny County Website). As stated, the employees at the Office of Property Assessments are typically very helpful in resolving any scheduling issues. You can find the official Postponement Request form on the Allegheny County Assessment webpage, which can then be faxed to the Office of Property Assessments. It is important to note that requests for postponement are typically required at least seven (7) days before the date of the hearing.

What Type Of Evidence, If Any, Should I Bring To My Allegheny County Tax Appeal Hearing?

The type of evidence for a property tax appeal differs greatly on whether you are an owner appealing (appellant) or whether you are defending a tax appeal (appellee). Choosing which valuation method and valuation year is appropriate is crucial in the appeal process.

If you are a property owner appealing your property taxes, you must decide if you are arguing current market value or base year (2012) value. If a property owner is arguing base year (2012) value, then evidence of the value of the property in 2012 is relevant. However, if a property owner is arguing current market value, then evidence of the current market value is applied.

Here is a key difference. If a property owner is using current market value, that value should then be reduced by the common level ratio for each calendar year. The CLR (common level ratio) is simply a multiplier that is multiplied against the current market value to arrive at an actual base year value.

Basically, a property should not be assessed at 100% of its current market value under our current system. If a property owner believes their property is worth $100K, and their assessment is currently $100K, they can file an appeal. If they can prove their current market value is $100K, the CLR would apply to that value, and reduce the assessment accordingly. If the CLR is 85% for example, then a property currently worth $100K would appropriately be assessed at $85K.

The same is true for appeals filed by school districts. It would not be appropriately for a school district to argue that a property should be assessed at 100% of what a property just sold for.

Evidence for either a 2012 base year approach, or a current value approach (using the CLR), can include a variety of evidence including but not limited to the following:

  • An appraisal opining as to the current value if appropriate or an appraisal indicating the 2012 value, depending on which valuation method and year is chosen;
  • Research of similar homes in your neighborhood that sold in the years prior to the effective date;
  • Research about similar assessments (not always the best argument - but can be helpful as a secondary argument if there is clear lack of uniformity);
  • Pictures, estimates, etc. of repairs or deficiencies within the property that should be considered; and/or
  • Any reason you think you overpaid for a property (in current market value appeals).

The ultimate question for any tax appeal is focused primarily on what other sales and information suggest about the fair market value of the subject property, or the 2012 Base year if that is chosen. The property owner (or representative) is required to bring three (3) extra copies of their evidence so they can be distributed to all parties in attendance at the hearing (school district representative, etc.).

Do I Need To Hire An Attorney To Represent Me?

We believe yes. We believe that the best settlements and decisions are still more likely to be obtained by having experienced tax appeal attorneys represent the property owners.

If the school district has appealed your property assessment, we almost always recommend counsel because school attorneys cannot cross-examine us the same that they can property owners. We seldom have our clients attend the hearing, and especially in defense cases, there can be a distinct disadvantage of property owners attending and offering information that will likely be used against them in a second appeal of their case. Most of the tax appeal cases are appealed to the second level Board of Viewers, and property owners should be careful about what evidence they volunteer at the first level hearing.

At Flaherty Fardo, we analyze every case first to ensure that our efforts will justify the cost through increased tax savings. These cases can often involve significant tax consequences that will impact the property owner for various years into the future, and the costs of an attorney are often justified.

If I Cannot Attend My Hearing, May I Send Someone Else?

“Yes, you can decide to send another interested party provided they have an authorized representative form from you with your signature.” (Source Allegheny County Website). Authorized representatives can be anyone at the first level only (BPAAR). At the second level (BOV), only the property owner, interested party (i.e. tenant), or attorney may appear for a property.

If The School District Or The Municipality Filed An Appeal Against My Property, Should I Attend?

Allegheny County tells property owners that “You are not required to attend an appeal filed on your property by your school district or municipality. However, you may attend the hearing to present evidence for your case if you so choose.”(Source Allegheny County Website). This is awful advice by the County.

Property owners need to be careful about representing themselves, if for no other reason other than the school district attorneys can cross-examine property owners about appraisals, mortgages, and improvements to the property, and then use that information later in the tax appeal process. This information from property owners is seldom helpful to recent home buyers and is directly used against property owners by the taxing entities to increase their property taxes. We believe a better approach is to have experienced tax appeal counsel representing the property owners who cannot be cross-examined or compelled to offer into evidence information that does not help the case.

Can The Decision From The First Level (BPAAR) Be Appealed?

Yes - almost all tax appeal cases go through a multiple appeal process (first the BPAAR and second the BOV).

You do NOT receive a decision at the time of your first level (BPAAR) hearing. The hearing officer makes a recommendation to the Board of Property Assessment of Allegheny County, and the Board issues the decision by mail to the property owner.

The tax appeal decision from the first level hearing is typically mailed about 2-3 months after the BPAAR hearing. However, we have seen some decisions take 6 to 12 months to be issued. Once the decision is rendered, all parties (property owner and each of the taxing entities) have 30 days to appeal the decision (de novo – meaning “fresh” or “new”) to the Allegheny County Board of Viewers (BOV). It is very important to know your appeal rights and to appeal within thirty (30) days of the mailing date on the decision.

Any appeals to the second level Board of Viewers (BOV) are retroactive to the original filing date.

What Happens At The Second Level BOV Hearing?

Once the case is appealed from the BPAAR (first level) to the BOV (second level), it normally takes anywhere between 6 months to 18 months for the case to be scheduled for a hearing date. It is often a long wait and almost always means that there will be multiple years at issue by the time the case is finally scheduled. All tax appeals are retroactive to the year in which the appeal was originally filed and can generate additional bills or refunds based on the outcome of the tax appeal.

The BOV hearing occurs on the 8th floor of the City County Building as opposed to the BPAAR which is on the 3rd floor of the County Office Building. The hearing is DE NOVO, which means whatever happened at the first level (BPAAR) is now legally irrelevant. The appeal process starts over and the question is what is the base year value of the property under appeal. Unlike the first level (BPAAR), the BOV hearing is in a courtroom, and often there are attorneys from the County, school district and even municipalities present at the time of the hearing.

There is typically a conciliation process first, where everyone attempts to negotiate a settlement for all years involved. At the BOV level, proper legal counsel is essential. Unlike the BPAAR, non-attorneys are precluded from appearing on behalf of property owners. If a settlement is reached, every party can sign off on the agreed upon value while present at the hearing. If the parties are unable to resolve the case through this conciliation, then the case can goto an actual trial in front of an appointed Hearing Master. It is a real trial, with opening arguments, cross-examinations, etc. using the rules of evidence. It is absolutely essential to have competent legal counsel if you are litigating your case at the BOV. The reality is that you normally will not get the best settlement unless you have counsel and are prepared to go to trial. The taxing entities will often pressure property owners into unfair settlements if they are unrepresented. Often, we will hear the statements from attorneys for the school state: "Let’s go to trial then." This is said in an attempt to pressure property owners into settling. Don’t be bullied by the school districts. If you have additional questions about the BOV process, email us info@pghfirm.com or call us at 412.802.6666 for a free consultation.

What Is The History Of Allegheny County Assessments?

Allegheny County has had a long and tumultuous history with property assessments and residents of Allegheny County. There have been at two county wide reassessments (2002 and 2012), and the practice of school districts only appealing new home buyers has increased the lack of uniformity of assessments between similar property owners. Here is a look at the last 50 years of property assessment news in Allegheny County, PA.

Contributing Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 6/6/07

  • 1970 —Green Tree Borough filed suit challenging the County’s system of assessing one-third of the county every year,
  • 1977 — Wilkinsburg filed a similar suit.
  • 1979 — Common Pleas Judge Nicholas P. Papadakos took control of the cases.
  • October 1, 1979 — eliminated the annual assessments and required the County to assess every property on a regular basis.
  • October 17, 1982 — Judge ends court oversight of the assessment system
  • February 13, 1992 — A computer-aided study of 500,000 properties by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette finds the values of many of them are substantially out of whack compared to their purchase price.
  • January 1994 — An effort to address assessment problems results in substantial increases in property values — some more than 40 percent — leading to a taxpayer revolt.
  • January 1, 1996 — Fueled by the assessment controversy, Republicans freeze assessments for five years so the County can fix the system.
  • May 13, 1996 — Six homeowners file suit against the assessment freeze, claiming it unfairly freezes values at inaccurate levels.
  • April 15, 1997 –Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. declares the freeze illegal and orders the County to prepare a plan to begin developing a new assessment for implementation in 1998 for properties whose values are more than 20 percent above or below fair market value.
  • January 9, 1998 — In exchange for the County implementing a full reassessment by 2001 instead of 2002, Judge Wettick puts off changes for properties more than 20 percent off of fair market value but also orders across-the-board assessment increases of 2 percent for every property in the county for 1999 and 2000.
  • February 10, 1998 — County hires Sabre Systems and Service of Miamisburg, Ohio, to complete the Allegheny County wide reassessment for $23.9 million.
  • January 9, 2001 — The County Property Assessment Oversight Board certifies new values for 552,000 properties at $57.1 billion across the county, up 48 percent from 2000.
  • January 2, 2002 — The new County assessment figures lead to more than 90,000 appeals.
  • February 15, 2005 — Responding to proposed new assessment figures for 2006 that would have nearly 80 percent of homeowners facing an assessment increase — 17,000 of them 100 percent or more — Mr. Onorato proposes to cap increases at a maximum of 4 percent.
  • May 12, 2005 — Judge Wettick rules the 4 percent cap is illegal, claiming it would only “exacerbate” disparities in the 2003 assessment.
  • September 20, 2005 - In a surprise move, Mr. Onorato decides not to use the revised figures for 2006 and instead called on County Council to establish 2002 as a base year for assessments.
  • October 27, 2005 — Kenneth Pierce of Braddock and Stephanie Beechaum of the Hill District file suit against the base-year system, saying their properties have decreased in value since 2002.
  • October 31, 2005 — A second group of homeowners file suit to challenge the base-year system.
  • March 16, 2006 — Judge Wettick rules that state law allows the county to use a base-year system for property assessment, but he allows attorney to challenge the constitutionality of the state law.
  • June 6, 2007 — In a landmark decision, Judge Wettick rules the state law allowing counties to use a base year for property assessments is unconstitutional because it doesn’t treat all taxpayers uniformly, which is a primary requirement.
  • 2009 – Supreme Court rules Base Year unconstitutional.
  • 2009 – Wettick Orders 2012 County Reassessment
  • Spring 2010 – Residents prepare for 2012 Allegheny County-wide Reassessment.
  • January 1, 2012 – New 2012 Base Year is established for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
  • 2012-2013 - Over 100,000 property tax appeals filed in Allegheny County.
  • 2013-2021 - School Districts appeal thousands of property owners who recently purchased their properties, leading to increased calls that they are being discriminated against.
  • 2018-2021 - Lawsuits are again filed by property owners alleging that the use of a 2012 Base Year without periodic reassessments is unconstitutional based on the same reasons that the 2012 reassessment was ordered. These lawsuits are still pending in 2022.
  • March 31, 2022 - Current tax appeal deadline for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania for property owners and taxing entities.
When will the next Allegheny County Reassessment happen?

Another Alegheny County reassessment is now overdue. It was 10 years between the 2002 and 2012 reassessments. Many experts expected the next Allegheny County reassessment to occur in 2022, but there are no definitive dates currently set. Reassessments in general are never popular and until the courts order the reassessment, it is unlikely to occur. There are several pending lawsuits as of 2022 which could trigger a reassessment as well, but these could take years to work through the courts.

Flaherty | Fardo | Rogel | Amick

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