Some people actually refer to it as the "Welcome to the neighborhood tax." Every year, at least as far back as 2002, taxing entities and most typically school districts across Allegheny County have filed thousands of property tax appeals in an effort to increase property taxes for new home buyers. We expect this trend to continue into 2022, especially with the currently inflated real estate market.
The premise is simple. If you paid $500K for a property which is currently assessed at $200K, the taxing entity should be able to argue for an increase to the current assessment and thus increase the property taxes and their own revenue. At least, it sounds simple. The reality is that only appealing recent home buyers is actually much more complicated than it seems and there are ways to defend property tax increases.
There is a serious legal question whether or not these "Welcome to the neighborhood" appeals violate Pennsylvania law and specifically the uniformity clause of the second class County Code. We believe the taxing entities appealing the assessments of ONLY new home buyers should be considered spot-assessing in violation of the Pennsylvania constitution. This practice does not treat all property owners equally. The school districts are not allowed to single out a property to appeal. The taxing entities have gotten around this as described below, and very few, if any, property owners have been willing to take the matter on multiple appeals over multiples years to have the Pennsylvania Supreme Court address the matter.
Nevertheless, property owners who have been appealed by a taxing entity should make sure they are aware of the property tax appeal procedures and should aggressively defend school district appeals.
There are 45 school districts in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Every year, any taxing entity (County, School, or Municipality) and all property owners have the right to file a new property tax appeal on a given property.
As stated, the school district is not allowed to single out any specific property or property owner. The tax entities are not allowed to say, "Hey, Joe is way underassessed ..." and then appeal his/her property.
The school districts and taxing entities have gotten around the uniformity argument by alleging that they have set reasonable standards that apply equally to all of the properties in their districts. For example, they have only appealed properties that have recently sold and whose current assessment is less than 80% of the recent purchase price. It makes sense. But at the same time, it does not make sense when two houses are similar (both assessed at $300K) and one sells for $600K, and the recent homebuyer is the only one appealed and ends up paying twice as much in property taxes as their neighbor who has the same house (but has not sold), and who is not allowed to be appealed or changed.
The longer there is between County wide reassessments, the more unfair the tax burden among neighbors ends up being because of these selective tax appeals filed by the school districts. Note: The last Allegheny County wide reassessments were in 2002 and 2012. The next County-wide reassessment has not yet been scheduled.
There are actually four (4) interested parties included in the tax assessment appeal process for Allegheny County. They include:
Over 90% of the taxing entity appeals are filed by the school district only, and not all of the municipalities will be involved in the litigation. The school district files the most appeals because they typically have the highest millage rate and therefore the most financial incentive to raise the property assessment.
Most municipalities and the County typically do not file appeals, or attend first level hearings, because they often have lower millage rates and “piggy back” off of the school districts. It is important to note however that County solicitors and sometimes Townships solicitors will always participate at second level appeals at the Board of Viewers.
If your property has been appealed by a taxing entity, it is important to remember that Allegheny County is currently under a 2012 base year system. This means that all properties should be assessed on what their fair market value was as of January 1, 2012, and not simply the most recent purchase price. To make matters even more confusing, current assessment law allows the appellant (i.e. whoever files the appeal) in these cases, to choose if they would like to use the 'base year argument' or the 'fair market value' argument.
The base year argument is simply looking at the value of the property as of January 1, 2012. The fair market value is different. The FMV is trying to determine the current market value as of January 1, 2022 (for 2022 appeals), and then applying a common level ratio (which changes every year) backwards to arrive at a 2012 assessment.
It is an enormous advantage for the school districts to use the fair market value (FMV) approach because they can attempt to use the recent sales price as proof of market value and to raise the property assessment accordingly.
First and foremost, a sale price alone is not controlling and alone as evidence does not meet the School District's burden of proof.
When schools file an appeal against a property owner, the school district has the burden of proof.
The school districts sometimes simply try to offer as evidence the deed for the sale of the subject property as a basis to raise the property taxes. A sale of a subject can be persuasive, but it is NOT controlling.
A valuation method must be used, and if only a deed is presented, (without a valuation method), the taxing entity has not met their burden of proof and the appeal should be denied. The hearing officers in Allegheny County are aware of the burden of proof obligations that a school district has when filing a tax appeal.
Property owners can also successfully defend school district appeals if they can prove that their recent sale price was higher than the true real estate market value. 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, Washington, and California, all areas where the real estate market was/is significantly higher. These owners typically substantially overpay for properties based upon their prior locations and the real estate markets in those locations.
Additionally, other items may have been included in the purchase price which makes the listed purchase price more inflated than the true price that was paid for the house. In fact, some property owners unfortunately discover various problems within their properties following the time of purchase, which can often mean that the true fair market value of the property is lower than what was actually paid.
The bottom line is that there are numerous reasons why it is improper and unfair to simply rely on a recorded sales price to raise a property assessment. And even when you have a valid sales price as evidence of market value, that assessment should be reduced accordingly to its 2012 base year value.
Property owners can represent themselves, but need to understand the risks of proceeding on their own and in most cases, it makes financial sense to have legal counsel handle the appeal.
First, property owners are at a disadvantage because they do not know the system, the rules of law, or the forum involved. The school district attorneys are instead familiar with the process and many of the other attorneys involved at these hearings. The lawyers involved will typically know the hearing officers on a first name basis, and experience can make a significant difference in the final result of an assessment appeal hearing.
Second, property owners do not have the advantage of having negotiated and litigated many cases previously. We, unfortunately, know for a fact that not all of the school district attorneys and hearing officers treat all of the property owners the same.
The assessment process is not blind, and in our humble opinion, can be very unfair for certain property owners. We have seen basically identical houses on a street be settled by school districts with large discrepancies between the settlements because of how the evidence was presented. Knowing the best and most efficient way to present evidence can make a significant difference in final property taxes.
Third, and most importantly, the lawyer for the school district can cross-examine the property owner to actually make their case against the property owner. This might be the strongest argument not to represent yourself at the very least at the first hearing.
Often, at the hearing, the school district is only prepared with a copy of the deed showing the new price. Some school districts are obviously more prepared than others and will bring comparable sales. But as stated, a copy of the deed alone SHOULD NOT meet the school’s burden of proof. If the homeowner appears, the school district may then cross-examine the property owner under oath, and use their testimony as evidence to increase the owner’s assessment.
Even more simply stated, if you attend the first hearing, any and all information will then be available by the school district if the case is appealed to the BOV (which most of the cases are).
Be careful about attending the hearing in person. The school district attorney may ask you certain information that will not be helpful to your hearing. Or even worse, the school district may be able to gather new information to use in case there is a second appeal of the case.
Questions that can harm your case include:
Depending on the property owner's responses, the school district can actually have a better case with the property owner present than if they would have simply stayed at home. We are NOT advising anyone to stay at home or miss their hearing. However, understanding ‘burden of proof’ and understanding what the best evidence to submit is, does make a difference. Very rarely will we ever advise a property owner to attend the hearing with us.
Each case is certainly unique. However, defending school district appeals is really about being more prepared than the taxing entity with solid evidence, legal arguments, and the ability to negotiate the best settlement.
There are certainly risks if an owner attends the first level hearing and the school district is able to record that information and use that same information against the property owner if the case is subsequently appealed.
Tax appeals are classified as real estate litigation. Thus, there are rules of evidence applicable to the proceedings that property owners should be aware of when defending a property tax appeal in Allegheny County.
READ: Top Allegheny County property assessment FAQ’s. If you really wish to understand the Allegheny County assessment process in more detail.
This Property tax calculator is a great tool for calculating the actual tax implications to an assessment change. Here are links to the Municipal millage rates and School District millage rates for Allegheny County.
If you would like a free consultation concerning defending a school or local tax appeal, or any other real estate matter, please call attorneys Noah Paul Fardo or Nicole Hauptman Amick directly at 412.802.6666 or complete the form below.
Past success does not guarantee results but does help demonstrate our experience and knowledge as successful Pennsylvania trial attorneys.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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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"Attorney Fardo and his staff were responsive, available and walked me through the complex legal process in a simple and compassionate way. Incredible team!"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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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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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.).
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or call us at 412.802.6666 for a free consultation.
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
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.
I Strenuously Object!, a riveting legal podcast brought to you by the Pittsburgh law firm Flaherty Fardo Rogel & Amick, is now in session. Be prepared for a mix of legal information, legal news, insight and analysis and obscure pop culture references, all served with a healthy dose of irreverence.
For a Decade straight, Flaherty Fardo Rogel & Amick, LLC Partner Nicole Amick has been recognized for her excellence in property tax appeals and Pennsylvania real estate law. First recognized in 2013 as a Super Lawyer Rising Star, this is the 10th consecutive year Attorney Amick has received this distinguished honor. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of all lawyers are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor and recognition requires both legal excellence and respect among the legal community. When it comes to Allegheny County property assessments and tax appeals, Nicole is widely regarded as one of the best.
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