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February 2013 Archives

New avenues for appealing property assessments


Allegheny County property owners have new options to appeal property assessment increases due to recent developments. The deadline to file a new 2013 appeal will be extended from April 2, 2012 to April 1, 2013. Additional proposed legislative reforms and a recent lawsuit may also cause changes to the appeals process and decisions. This comes as very good news for property owners all over Allegheny County who are unhappy with the results of the 2013 court-ordered reassessment.

New appeals can be filed in 2013

Property owners will now have the opportunity to file new appeals for their property assessments this year. The Allegheny County Council approved a law that allows appeals for the 2013 tax year to be filed through April 1, 2013. Without this new law, property owners would have had to wait until 2014 to file an appeal for the tax year 2014.

Millage rate reductions across Allegheny County

The city of Pittsburgh announced a 30% reduction in tax millage for city residents. The city's mayor also introduced legislation which would increase exemptions and credits, particularly for senior citizens. Increases for the Homestead and Farmstead Exemptions from $15,000 to $18,000 were approved by the County Council on February 5, 2013.

Although these reductions are a step in the right direction, suburban property owners who saw their assessments increase by more than 30% will likely see a higher tax bill this year. Commercial assessments are not complete in many areas and this makes it difficult to determine how much millage rates must be reduced in order to prevent property owner's tax bills from increasing.

Increased weight for certified appraisals

There may also be relief available for those property owners who used certified appraisals in their appeals to the BPAAR. Many citizens complained that they were advised by the county to order certified appraisals for their assessment appeals, but the appraisals were disregarded by BPAAR.

In response to these complaints, the County Council has proposed a new law to require BPAAR to presume that recent appraisals conducted by certified appraisers establish the value of the property in the appraising year, unless there is suspicion of error or fraud. The proposed new law also allows the Board to adjust the value for changes that might occur between the appraisal year and the base year that would affect valuation. These proposed ordinance reforms are currently in Committee.

Class action lawsuit over certified appraisals

Eleven property owners who submitted appraisals as evidence and received unfavorable decisions filed a class action lawsuit against BPAAR). The property owners are asking the court to rule that certified appraisals must be accepted to prove value unless there is a conflicting appraisal. They are also asking that the hearing officers' reports be automatically shared with property owners appealing their assessments. This case will continue through the court system and a final disposition may not come for several months.

Kisner Law Firm

For more than one decade, the Kisner Law Firm has assisted hundreds of property owners in reducing their real estate taxes. Whether you have already appealed your assessment and are moving onto the next level of appeal or would like to file a new appeal before the April 1, 2013 deadline, we are ready to step in and represent you to give you the best chance of reducing your assessed value. We are happy to provide you with a free evaluation of your case. If retained to represent you, we will use professional-level real estate tools to analyze your property, prepare a strong body of evidence for your appeal, and represent you at your hearing. Our reasonable flat fee allows you to determine the cost-effectiveness of hiring legal counsel to advocate on your behalf to lower your real estate taxes. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for assistance in the assessment appeal process or for representation at an upcoming hearing. We request at least one week notice so we can fully prepare.

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Kisner Law Firm, LLC
Gulf Tower
707 Grant St., Suite 2646
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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Phone: 412-880-5605
Fax: 412-235-6704

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