Allegheny County homeowners might have a second chance to challenge their 2022 property assessments if legislation proposed by Allegheny County Council’s President is passed. Homeowners would have until February 28, 2023 to contest last year’s tax assessment.
This special appeal period would be permitted as the result is the result of a September 1, 2022 ruling by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Alan Hertzberg that mandated a large reduction — from 81.1% to 63.53% — in the common level ratio used in appeal hearings to set the number at which most recently purchased properties are taxed.
This proposed legislation comes as Pittsburgh Public Schools is appealing the Judge’s decision to Commonwealth Court. Homeowners who faced appeals in 2022 who have not received decisions would also benefit from this proposed legislation, which directs the County’s Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review to use the 63.53% common level ratio in calculating taxable value despite the school district’s challenge before Commonwealth Court.
Homeowners who have purchased in the last 5 or 6 years could also be beneficiaries of this legislation, if passed, as it would allow them to revisit whether their current assessment – which could be 81 percent or more of purchase price – could be reduced for the 2022 year and subsequent years moving forward.
Kim at Kisner Law helps property owners throughout Allegheny County in assessment appeals. She can step in at any time and take over the entire process, usually for a flat fee. When the hearing date arrives, you don't even need to attend. Just relax and allow me to handle everything.
Kim is proud of her record of realizing a tax savings for every client she has represented through the final level of appeal. Read about our success stories to see the kinds of results we achieve.
Kim provides a complimentary evaluation of the property's assessed value and addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence available before you retain her. She uses professional-level real estate databases that allows her to analyze Allegheny County properties. Contact Kim today for a free evaluation of your property so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.
The assessment appeal process
In Allegheny County, the assessment appeal process consists of a few primary steps:
- Filing the appeal. All assessment appeals must be filed within the designated timeframe set forth by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review. The window in which appeals can be filed typically runs from the first business day in January through the end of March. Only sparingly and under extenuating circumstances will the Board permit late appeals to be filed.
- The formal hearing. Once an appeal is filed, a date is scheduled upon which a "formal hearing" will place. Formal hearings are typically scheduled beginning in May or June and are scheduled to run at least until the end of October. You should receive a Notice of Scheduled Assessment Appeal Hearing in the mail at least two weeks before the hearing date. The hearing is an opportunity for the property owner or legal representative to present evidence of a lower value. In the case of municipality- or school district-filed appeals, property owners or representative should attend to contest any increase being sought.
- The Board of Viewers. Several weeks after the formal hearing, a disposition is mailed, advising the interested parties of the change in value, if any is awarded. After evaluating the decision from the formal hearing, a second appeal may be filed with the Board of Viewers, part of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. Hearings at the Board of Viewers routinely take anywhere from 8 to 12 months to be scheduled.
Preparing a strong case
Without strong evidence that the property is over-assessed, the most likely result is no change in value. The most commonly reason cited in a disposition for no change in value Is "insufficient evidence." We know property owners hate to see an unfavorable result when they spent their time fighting an unfair assessment. After years of successfully representing property owners in assessment appeals, our firm knows what mistakes to avoid and what points to emphasize. These are the most common factors that we use to contribute to the strength of a case:
- The recent sale of the subject property. If you recently (within the past 2-4 years) bought your house for an amount less than the assessed value, that provides perhaps the strongest argument for an assessment reduction. However, as indicated above, if you recently purchased your house for more than the assessed value, an attorney is probably needed to rebut that evidence.
- Recent comparable sales. Recent sales of comparable properties are typically the backbone of a successful appeal. We like to find comparable sales that:
- are within the last 1-2 years or relevant look-back period;
- are a short distance from the subject;
- have similar physical characteristics; and
- are the same type of building (split-level, rowhouse, condo, multi-family, etc.)
- Defects in the property or mistakes in the county data. Physical defects in the property are important, but may not be accurately represented in the county database. If a roof is damaged and is in need of repair, or if there are other issues, those defects can serve as evidence in support of a lower value. Sometimes the county data has inaccurate property characteristics such as square footage, number of bedroom, or style of the home. In that case, correcting the mistake can result in a tower assessment.
- Appraisals. In very challenging cases, sometimes it is necessary to secure a professional appraisal of the property. Although this involves an additional cost, it usually serves as the most convincing evidence of value.