Appeal Costs & Process Overview

Property owners have the right to appeal their property assessment each year by filing an annual assessment appeal during an open season.  In order to successfully appeal your property assessment and reduce your property tax burden, the burden is placed on the property owner to prove that the property is over-assessed.   In order to get started, we will first evaluate your chance of successfully reducing your property assessment by reviewing your current assessment and recent property sales data for similar properties in your geographic area.  Based on that evaluation, we will provide you with an estimated tax savings.  Assuming that we recommend that you file an assessment appeal and you agree to retain our services, we will forward to you a new client package.

After we receive the package documents from you that are necessary to authorize us to file the appeal on your behalf, we will perform all aspects of the appeal and we will actively keep you updated along the way.  You will typically receive four status update letters from our office: 1.) a letter confirming that your application was filed; 2.) a letter confirming receipt of the Hearing Notice for your oral hearing; 3.) a letter providing feedback of the Board’s comments during the oral hearing; and 4.) a letter confirming receipt of the Board’s formal written decision and an explanation of the tax savings generated from their decision. 

Cost of Filing Your Appeal

Our legal fee for appealing your property assessment is contingent on the amount of tax savings that you realize.  After your successful appeal, our fee will be a percentage of the next year’s annual tax savings.  If you do not receive a property assessment reduction resulting in a property tax savings, you will owe us nothing. 

The other costs associated with your appeal include the county’s administrative filing fee (typically $25-$50 depending on the county and the type of appeal) and in many cases, the cost of an appraisal report (typically $300-$400) that is paid directly by the property owner to the Pennsylvania Certified Appraiser.  If you have a recent appraisal report (e.g., from a purchase or refinance) that is less than twelve months old, that appraisal report will likely be sufficient for your appeal.  If an appraisal report is needed, we will gladly recommend one or more highly respected real estate appraisers that have assisted our clients in the past. 

Timely Filing Your Annual Appeal

For most property owners, your only opportunity to appeal your property tax is defined by an open season, which is usually during the summer and varies by county.  For example, Chester County and Lancaster County each have open season for filing an annual property assessment appeal from May 1st to August 1st.   In order to file your assessment appeal, our office will complete the county’s application form and submit it along with your filing fee.  Further, we will also need to submit a signed authorization document with your application that authorizes us to file your appeal and attend the oral hearing on your behalf.

Oral Hearing and Decision

Following receipt of the application for appeal, the county will mail to each of us a copy of the Hearing Notice, which provides a date, time, and location of your oral hearing.  We will attend the oral hearing on your behalf and your attendance is not required.  You are welcome to attend, but very few of our clients take us up on the offer.  The county will also mail a copy of the Hearing Notice to the relevant taxing authorities, which may lead to their attendance at your oral hearing.

At the hearing, the burden is on the property owner to prove that the property is over-assessed.  In order to meet our burden, we will present evidence of your property's fair market value (e.g., an appraisal report prepared by a PA certified appraiser).  In cases when the property was recently purchased, we will also present a copy of your HUD-1 settlement statement that shows your purchase price.  Typically, a three member panel of the Board of Assessment Appeals will review the evidence that we provide and they will often seek clarification or ask questions regarding the evidence and/or features of your property.   In many cases, the Board will provide an informal decision regarding the outcome of the assessment appeal during the hearing.  A written formal decision will be mailed to each of us at a later time, but typically prior to October 31st

Effective Date of Successful Annual Assessment Appeal

In most situations, your reduced assessment will be effective at the beginning of the next tax year.  For example, if you receive a reduced assessment based on an appeal filed in the summer of 2016, your new assessment will be effective in January 2017.  Therefore, your successful assessment appeal will not be retroactive.  However, if you are appealing an Assessment Change Notice based on increased assessment, you must file your interim appeal within 40 days of the Notice.

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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113 South Broad Street, Kennett Square, PA 19348
| Phone: 610-444-5552

Estate Planning | Assessment Appeals

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