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MAKING PROPERTY TAXES MORE APPEALING

Attorney Brian Stahl

Property taxes can be very costly, especially for commercial and industrial properties. “If those taxes are based on inaccurate assessments, you could be paying thousands of dollars more than you should be,” says Attorney Brian Stahl, HKQ Law.

The Consolidated County Assessment Law governs the real estate assessment process in counties of the second class A through the eighth class. Several Pennsylvania counties are subject to distinctive statutory provisions regarding the assessment of real property, as well as to unique home rule charter and administrative code requirements. The Third Class City Code sets forth procedures relating to the assessment of real property for taxation purposes in cities of the third class.

Pennsylvania real estate tax rates typically vary between 1% and 2% of the property’s value, with counties collecting an average of 1.35% of a property's assessed fair market value as property tax per year. The assessment, which is conducted by county officials, is based on building value and the land or site value.

Market value has been defined by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court as “the price a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obligated to sell, taking into consideration all uses to which the property is adapted and might in reason be applied.”

Taxpayers have a right to fair appraisals. A particular property should not be over-valued or under-valued in relation to similar properties within a specific geographic area. Pennsylvania has a constitutional requirement for uniformity of taxation. Since 1909, the courts have held that real estate is a taxable subject of one class and taxes must be uniform upon the same class of subjects. A uniform assessment rate means that all properties in a county, whether residential, commercial, or industrial, will be assessed at the same ratio of assessed value to market value.

Re-assessments aren’t conducted on a frequent basis, so a current assessment may not reflect a decline in property value due to current market conditions.

The assessment law affords the right to any property owner or taxing district to annually appeal an assessment. Deadlines differ from county to county regarding the filing of appeals. Any appeals filed before the requisite deadline will generally affect the valuation of the property for local government fiscal years beginning on or after January 1st of the following year. Assessment appeals are conducted by a local board appointed to hear appeals (or in some smaller counties before the county commissioners). Decisions of local assessment appeal boards may be appealed to courts of common pleas. The common pleas courts’ decisions are further subject to an appeal to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

The applellant bears the burden of proof for tax assessment appeals. To successfully challenge the assessment, you’ll need to establish at least one of the following facts:

  • The tax assessor relied on information that is incorrect or incomplete.
  • The tax assessor set the taxable value of your property higher than the taxable values of similar properties in your area.
  • The tax assessor assumed that the current market value of your home is higher than it actually is.

HKQ Law’s real estate lawyers can provide legal assistance with real estate tax assessment appeals and litigation for personal, commercial and industrial properties. HKQ Law also handles a full range of other real estate matters, including commercial and residential purchases and sales, development, zoning and land use planning, financing, and land leasing. Call the attorneys at HKQ Law to discuss tax assessment appeals and litigation. No fees for inquiries. (800)-760-1529, www.HKQLaw.com.

About Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn, PC

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Reports, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history, totaling over a half billion dollars on behalf of injured clients. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm for personal injury and medical malpractice litigation in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at www.HKQLaw.com or by calling (800) 760-1529.

				

 

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