McClellan Legal LLC Estate Planning & Tax Assessment Blog

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lower Your Property Taxes

Many property owners in Pennsylvania are unfairly required to pay more property tax than their similarly situated neighbors.  This disparity may be because your neighbors have successfully appealed their assessment in past years or your existing property assessment may be based on erroneous property data.  Either way, no one should be required to pay more taxes than is obligated under the law.  In order to remedy this problem, property owners are permitted to file an annual property assessment appeal each year between May 1st and August 1st.   

Pennsylvania property assessment laws are confusing for many property owners because your assessed value typically will not equal what you believe is your fair market value (i.e., an appraised value).  Each county assigns an assessed value for a property based on a ratio (known as the common-level ratio) of a base year. Only during the base year does the assessed value of a property equal the property’s fair market value. The common-level ratio for each county is determined and published each year in mid-summer (effective the following tax year) by the Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board (S.T.E.B.). For example, the base year in Chester County is 1996 and the common-level ratio that was recently published in June 2014 for the 2015 tax year is 1.73.  Therefore, to determine the current fair market value that Chester County has used to determine your property taxes, you simply multiply your assessed value by the current common-level ratio.

EXAMPLE: Property XYZ is located in Chester County and has an assessed value of $320,000 that is taxed at a current fair market value of $553,600 ($320,000 x 1.73). To determine if Property XYZ is over-assessed, you simply determine if Property XYZ would appraise for less than the current fair market value of $553,600. If Property XYZ would appraise for less than $553,600, then you would likely benefit from filing an assessment appeal.

For the first time in years, the new common-level ratio is in your favor for filing an assessment appeal.  Don’t miss the August 1st deadline to file a property assessment appeal.  If you have any concern that your Pennsylvania property is over assessed, please call our office and we will evaluate your chances of reducing your property tax burden.

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McClellan Legal LLC is located in Kennett Square and serves clients throughout the areas of Avondale, Chadds Ford, Coatesville, Downingtown, Landenberg, Oxford, Phoenixville, Pottstown, West Chester, & West Grove.

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