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Final assessment appeal decisions may not come for a year

Thumbnail image for BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgIt looks as though some property owners in Allegheny County will be left waiting for as long as one year before receiving a final decision on their assessment appeals.

Due to the unusually high number of assessment appeals filed in response to the court-ordered countywide reassessment it is likely that some property owners will not receive a decision on their appeals to the Board of Viewers until 2014.

The Board of Viewers serves as the second step for property owners who are unhappy with their tax assessments. The process of challenging an assessment begins with a formal appeal to the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review (BPAAR). Property owners who are unsatisfied with the results of their formal hearing can then make a second appeal to the Board of Viewers for a filing fee of $106.

The tax effect of delayed appeal decisions

The likelihood that some cases will not be heard until 2014 means that those property owners whose appeals to the Board of Viewers have yet to be heard will have to pay their 2013 taxes based on the values that they are challenging. Property owners whose challenges result in a reduction of their assessed value will receive a refund on the difference between their new assessed value and their actual payment.

Municipal governments in Allegheny County have until Jan. 31, 2013 to set their millage rates and pass their final budgets. The communities are usually required to do so by the end of the year, but were given a one-month extension in early December by Judge Wettick. Once those municipal budgets are passed and the millage rate is set, property owners will receive a tax bill based on either their new 2013 assessed value or the result of their formal appeal to BPAAR, commonly referred to as a "first round appeal."

Over 100,000 appeals have been filed

The total number of formal assessment appeals in Allegheny County ballooned to over 100,000 this year. This fall, BPAAR was hearing as many as 2,000 cases per day.

As BPAAR has decided more and more first-round cases, the number of second-round appeals to the Board of Viewers has also risen dramatically. A seven-member committee, The Board of Viewers has divided itself into five panels. The panels are each hearing about 15-18 cases per day.

Michelle Lally, the administrative chair for the Board of Viewers, has stated in published reports that the board is encouraging property owners and taxing bodies to reach a settlement on the appeals that are brought before it. However, the board can review evidence, take sworn statements, and issue a binding decision in the event that a settlement cannot be reached.

The Kisner Law Firm

The Kisner Law Firm can step in at any time to provide representation, even if you have already had your formal hearing. If you are an owner who wasn't satisfied with your first appeal and are looking for representation for your second round case, the Kisner Law Firm is ready to step in and represent you to give you the best chance of reducing your assessed value. For a low flat fee, we will:

  • Analyze your property using our professional-level databases
  • Prepare a strong body of evidence for your appeal
  • Represent you at your hearing

We are pleased to provide all potential clients with complimentary evaluations of their properties. If we don't think the case is strong, we won't recommend that the property owner spend more money hiring an attorney. But if we believe we can put together a strong case, we will move forward with representation. If you have any questions about the assessment appeal process, or if you need representation for an upcoming hearing, contact the Kisner Law Firm today.

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