Pennsylvania Property Tax Assessments Explained
Pennsylvania Tax attorney Greg Biernacki answers your property tax assessment and calculation questions.
Property tax assessments should be roughly the same each year unless a special event triggers reassessment.
- -Pennsylvania appeal deadlines vary by county. By missing a deadline, you could potentially be losing money.
- -Knowing your unique parcel number and property value can help you file an appeal.
What Is Tax Assessment and How Are Property Taxes Assessed in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, each county sets a value for every taxable property within the county, called an assessment. That assessment governs what you pay in annual real estate tax to your county, your local township, and your school district. Usually, the school district taxes are the biggest component of that tax burden.
When Are Property Taxes Generally Assessed?
Property assessment should be the same every year, except for three triggering events:
- A building permit or demolition on the property, potentially changing the assessed value.
- The taxpayer or school district files an appeal, challenging if the assessed value is too high or too low.
- A county-wide re-assessment, re-evaluating every property within that district.
Excluding these events, your assessment should stay the same every year.
Properties are taxed depending on your local jurisdiction. In most cases, you will receive a county tax bill in the early part of the year based on that assessment. The township usually comes out a couple of months after that, and the school tax bill comes out in the summer. Usually, you can pay the taxes at a discount if you pay early, or you can pay them on the due date. Unfortunately, it’s not just one tax bill for all three, they split it up and send it out at different times.
Unfortunately, many people don’t even know what their taxes are because they are sent directly to their mortgage escrow company. It’s important to look at those tax bills annually. Every year, the state puts out new factors for each county. Even though your assessment stays the same, it doesn’t mean the property is taxed fairly.
When Should a Property Owner File a Property Tax Appeal in Pennsylvania? How Do These Cases Generally Get Started?
In Pennsylvania, you need to file a property tax appeal by the deadline designated by your county. Each county has varied deadlines. For example, the deadlines in the Pittsburgh area widely differ:
- Allegheny County – March 31st
- Washington County – September 1st
- Westmoreland County – August 1st
You need to make sure that you are filing an appeal by the deadline, so you don’t lose an opportunity to save some money on your taxes.
Before filing an appeal, you should know if it’s worth it to file an appeal. You need to know if you’ll be successful. What we can do to help you at firm is determine what the property is worth today, then compare that to the assessment to see if it makes sense to file an appeal. One of the most important things to know when determining if an assessment appeal is warranted is an estimate of what your property is worth today; this information will help guide us.
In Pennsylvania, What Information Do I Need to Start and Be Successful in a Property Tax Appeal?
If you’d like our help determining if a property tax appeal makes sense, you should gather some important materials before calling our office:
- Property information (property type (residential or commercial), square footage and other property characteristics.
- Property Assessment
- Parcel Identification Number
Each county has its own unique identifier, usually called your parcel number, which is very helpful to know when you call into our office or talk to any professional. With this information, we can compare your assessment with the market to determine whether it is a fair value or not.
Other information you may try to gather before we have a conversation, is not just knowing what you think your house is worth today but what other homes in your area are valued at or selling for. That would give us a great idea of where you stand in comparison to your assessment.
We often see clients come in having done a lot of prep work before they call us and, unfortunately, it’s not very helpful. They look at their neighbor’s assessments in preparation for making their own appeal to see if they are over-assessed. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, the comparable assessment information is not evidence that your assessment is too high or low. The courts will not accept that to determine what your assessment should be. This is one example of why it’s worth talking to one of our attorneys, to make sure you are not spinning your wheels unnecessarily.
For more information on Property Tax Assessment Appeals in PA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (412) 557-7726 today.
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