Property assessments in Allegheny County have been in the news for many years. While many property owners had their assessments reduced through appeals after the 2012 Countywide reassessment, there still may be opportunities for commercial or residential owners to obtain assessment relief.
Foremost, owners should determine if their property has actually decreased in value over the past several years. Buildings may age and need repairs or may be in area that is not in a “hot spot” relative to the rest of the County. For commercial parcels, increased vacancies or rent reductions caused by market conditions can lessen a parcel’s value.
Also keep in mind that in Allegheny County, as in every other county in Pennsylvania, assessments are subject to the “common level ratio.” Very roughly speaking, this ratio is like a deflation factor so that owners do not face assessments increases merely because the costs of living has risen.
For 2018 the ratio in Allegheny County is 87.4%. That means that if you have a house that has a fair market value of $100,000, for assessment purposes, the property should be taxed at $87,400. As a result, even if a property has remained the same in value or has undergone small increases over the past few years, taxpayers still may be eligible to achieve a small reduction.
Assessment reductions are usually proven through recent sales of comparable properties, or if the parcel produces income, through the property’s income and expense statements. The owners should use common business sense in considering whether to file an appeal. If properties in their area are selling for $1.5 million and their assessment is $1 million, careful consideration should be made before filing an assessment appeal.
The people hearing your tax appeal at the Board of Property Assessment (the first stage of the assessment process in Allegheny County), or at the Board of Viewers (the second stage) are very knowledgeable about local real estate. But if sound reasons exist, opportunities should be pursued and retention of legal counsel knowledgeable about Allegheny County tax appeal law and practice should be considered.