Media Real Estate Attorney Explains Remedies if Your Real Estate Tax is Too High
As a skilled Media Employment Attorney, I get questions all the time from clients regarding the remedies if your estate tax is too high. If you believe that you’ve received your tax bill and you believe that it’s too high, you do have a certain remedy and recourse with the county to appeal that particular process. The way in which your tax bill in Pennsylvania works is that there is a certain office in each of the counties called the Real Estate Tax Assessor. His job is to determine the real value or the market value of your property. He reaches an assessment and then he issues the tax bill and the tax bill is based upon the millage times the value of your assessment. There are a couple of factors that are involved that are under your control and some that are under the county’s control. The County Assessor has each year the obligation to enter into an assessment. He does it by virtue of a computer program that, in effect, establishes the tax assessment based on values as of 1998. It’s a little bit of an antiquated process, but that’s the way in which the county has determined we are going to reach your assessment.
However, one of the factors involved is what the fair market value of your particular real estate property is. The tax assessor makes that assessment. He can assess it high, low, or keep it where it is each year. When you get your tax bill each year, you have the opportunity to say well, “My property went down for certain circumstances.” At that point in time you can say as far as the value of my home is concerned, I’m over assessed. What you can do is go to the Tax Bureau between a period of March 15 and August 1 in Pennsylvania in Delaware County in particular and each of the counties is very similar where you can file a tax appeal.
It’s a very simple process where you fill out a form; you go to the tax assessor’s office, and you say you want to make an appeal for my real estate tax assessment. At that point they process the appeal. In between the time that you file the appeal and the time that they hold a particular hearing, it’s your obligation to present to the tax people that you believe that your fair market value is either higher or lower than what the tax assessor has determined. What you have to do at that point is either, do it yourself by getting photographs of what we call equitable values on other properties or comparable values to other properties in the area. You say, “My property is over assessed because you have it valued at too high and it’s not that value.” Once you do that, and the way you can do that is do it yourself, you must produce photos for them, or you can retain an appraiser who does basically the work for you. He goes out and looks at the property and looks at the comparable values in the neighborhood and he arrives at a number that says your value is over or under what your tax assessment is.
At that point in time, if he believes you have a case that your value is over assessed and/or they determine the fair market value to be too high, you then go to the Real Estate Tax Assessment Appeal Hearing. This process is rather quick because they pretty much know a lot of the properties in the particular areas. They group the hearings based on certain townships and things like that. They look at the property and have reviewed it ahead of time and listen to you to add any particular information to your written document. At that point in time they will make an assessment of your fair market value and then they will apply what they call the common level ratio, which is about 67.8% of your property value. If your assessment is higher than that CLR, then you will most likely get a reduction in your assessment. If the determination of your fair market value is lower, then you will get a reduction in your assessment because it’s all based on that formula.
As a experienced Media Employment Attorney I would say at that point, what they will do is issue an award or a decision with regard to that and you can move forward and could possibly take an appeal to the Common Pleas court, but that is usually not that successful and you’re pretty much limited to it. You can do this process annually, every time you receive your bill.
The second way in which they reassess your property is if you have made an improvement; added an addition, put in a swimming pool, increased the size, added a bedroom. The tax assessor triggered by the building permits will come out and say okay I want to look at your property as it’s been reconstructed or improved. At that point he will issue to you an interim tax notice. The interim tax notice says I’ve looked at your property and I think the fair market value has gone up $50,000 to $100,000 and will issue you a new assessment based upon that. You also have the right to appeal from that assessment and it’s basically the same process we just discussed. You try to get comparable to what the value of the house is as improved to say that his value is way too high and the assessment should be reduced. At that point in time, hopefully it is and you will get a lower tax bill.
If you have any questions about remedies if your real estate tax is too high, please contact our Media Real Estate Attorneys for a free case evaluation.
This educational blog was brought to you by experienced Real Estate Lawyer Walter J. Timby. Our law firm proudly represents clients throughout Media, as well as Pennsylvania, the greater Philadelphia area, and New Jersey.