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When to expect property tax millage rates for school districts

BW-SQ-City-150x150.jpgSome property owners in Allegheny County will likely have to wait until July before they know how much in taxes they will be paying this year.

State law gives Pennsylvania school districts until June 30, 2013 to formally adopt a budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The millage rate for property owners is determined by the amount of revenue allocated in each school district's budget after it is approved.

Though some districts, including the city of Pittsburgh, have finalized their budgets, most have not. The Moon Area School Board has begun the process, but is not expected to adopt a plan until June 24. Debate on the budget is well underway in Mt. Lebanon, but a vote is not expected on that budget until sometime in May. The same is true in many other districts around the county.

Will your taxes go up or down?

In light of the recent property tax revaluation, most millage rates will go down compared to the 2012-2013 school year. But, with an increased assessment, this could still mean that some homeowners will receive higher tax bills..

In addition, in the past two weeks, some homeowners have received notice that their tax bill is going to increase based on their school district's appeal of their current assessment. Many of these appeals are directed at owners who recently purchased their property for more than the assessed value of the home. Homeowners who find themselves in this position should consider contacting us to see if we can help.

The Kisner Law Firm

Though time is running short, the attorneys at the Kisner Law Firm are still able to help. Whether you are fighting to reduce your assessment, or to keep the school district from increasing it, our experienced attorneys can make all the difference. We have helped hundreds of property owners in Allegheny County reduce their property assessments. For a single flat fee, we pledge to fight for you through the administrative appeal process and even to the state court system to get the best possible result.

Whether you are just thinking of filing an appeal, or have already had a hearing and are unsatisfied with the results, the Kisner Law Firm can help. We can step in at any point in the process and fight for you.

We are happy to discuss your case with you personally to help you understand the process and to help you make an informed decision about pursuing a tax reduction or defending against a tax increase.

Contact one of our attorneys today by calling (412) 208-4263 or by sending us an email

Only days left until property assessment appeal deadline

Thumbnail image for BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgThe last day for Allegheny County property owners to appeal the new assessed values is Monday, April 1-only days away. A year ago, it looked like the owners would not be able to file any appeals early in 2013. But earlier this year, the county changed the law, allowing everyone a second chance to fight their assessments.

Tax bills are being sent out now all over Allegheny County, and property owners are starting to see how significant the increases are as a result of the county-wide reassessment. Assessments for some properties increased by 50%, 100%, or even more. These staggering increases put pressure on homeowners struggling to meet the additional tax burden.

Even owners who tried unsuccessfully to appeal last year are eligible to file a new appeal this year. Thousands of owners filed informal or formal appeals in 2012 but were not able to obtain any reduction. Some just gave up because the process seemed to difficult or daunting.

If your assessment is too high, you need to contact an experienced real estate attorney on your side to help you fight it.

The Kisner Law Firm

The attorneys at the Kisner Law Firm have helped hundreds of property owners in Allegheny County reduce their property assessments. For a single flat fee, we pledge to fight for you through the administrative appeal process and even to the state court system to get the best possible result. We are happy to discuss your case with you personally to help you understand the process and to help you make an informed decision about filing an appeal.

Contact one of our attorneys today by calling (412) 208-4263
or by sending us an email.

Our clients appreciate the personal service they get from our attorneys as we help guide them through the appeal process with hundreds of dollars in tax savings at stake.

Filing deadline

Remember, the deadline to file an appeal of your 2013 property assessment is Monday, April 1.

Should You Appeal Your Allegheny Property Reassessment?

court-house.jpgYou just received the notice of reassessment for your Allegheny County property, and the assessed value went up significantly. You no doubt have a lot of questions on your mind. How much are your taxes going to go up? Should you file an appeal? Should you file an informal or a formal appeal? How do you know whether your appeal case is strong? What kind of evidence is persuasive at the appeal hearing? What are the risks with filing an appeal? The Kisner Law Firm is representing homeowners from all over Allegheny County, helping them to answer these questions.

How much will your taxes increase?

It is difficult to say how much your taxes will change until the new millage rates come out for each municipality. It is probably safe to assume that the millage rates will be adjusted, though. In most areas, assessed values went up, which means the taxing authorities are required to adjust their millage rates down. For many property owners, even though their assessed values went up, their taxes will actually go down because of the millage rate adjustments. See a previous article with examples using estimated millage rates for the City of Pittsburgh.

What makes a strong case for appeal?

Appealing a property assessment is a complicated legal action, but some general principles apply to most cases. These are the most common factors that we see that contribute to the strength of a case:

  1. The recent sale of the subject property. If you recently (within the past 2-3 years) bought your house for an amount less than the assessed value, that is a great argument for reducing the assessment. If, however, you recently purchased your house for an amount greater than the assessed value, that will be strong evidence against any reduction. It's hard to argue that you bought a property for one price, but it is actually worth less than that. It's not an impossible argument, though, and an attorney can help make that case stronger.
  2. Recent comparable sales. The recent sales of comparable properties is usually the backbone of a strong appeal case. If we can find issues to critique with the comparables listed in the county database, we do that as well. We like to find comparable sales that:
      • are within the last 18 months from the appeal date
      • are within .8 miles distance from the subject
      • have similar physical characteristics (frame/brick, stories, year built, bedrooms, bathrooms, condition, etc.)
      • are the same type of building (rowhouse, condo, multi-family, etc.)
  3. Defects in the property or mistakes in the county data. Physical defects in the property are important, but may not be recorded in the county database. If a roof is damaged and in need of repair, or if there are other issues, those can be evidence of a lower value. Sometimes the county data is simply mistaken on a statistical issue like the square footage. In that case, correcting the mistake can support a lower value.
  4. Appraisals. If good comparables and other arguments are not available, it may be a good idea to order a professional appraisal of the property. This involves an additional cost, typically a few hundred dollars, but it can be persuasive evidence for a lower value.
Should you file an informal or formal appeal?

If good evidence like the kind described above is available to support a lower assessed value, it may be worth it to appeal assessment by Allegheny County. Both informal and formal appeals are availableand effective in getting assessed values actually reduced. For several reasons, retaining an experienced real estate attorney can improve your chances of success at an appeal hearing.

Receive a free initial evaluation from the Kisner Law Firm

If you are thinking of filing an appeal, the Kisner Law Firm can provide you with a free initial evaluation of your property and the kind of case we can put together for your appeal. Our firm has a powerful real estate database powered by RealSTATs that allows us to analyze any property in Allegheny County by looking at the statistical information and comparable sales data. Find out today if you can save money by appealing your property assessment. Contact the Kisner Law Firmfor an evaluation of your property.

Remember the deadline to file an appeal is April 2, 2012.

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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Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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Fax: 412-235-6704

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