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Tic-Toc - It's Time to File Your Allegheny County Assessment Appeal

BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgWhile property owners in counties across the Commonwealth enjoy appeal deadlines of August, September, and even October, property owners in Allegheny County have an abbreviated window of opportunity to file their appeals. For 2014, the assessment appeal deadline is March 31. With the total assessed value of residential properties in some communities rising nearly 20% since 2012, property owners should take advantage of this small window of opportunity to file an Allegheny County assessment appeal.

As a result of the reassessment, nearly 133,000 appeals were filed. By January 1, 2014, less than 14,000 of those appeals remained outstanding. The Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review has seen the number of appeals filed in 2014 drop by nearly 95%. The reassessment, popularly heralded as "flawed" by property owners county-wide can only be corrected through the appeal.

Time is running out. Don't miss your opportunity to file an appeal and potentially save thousands of dollars in taxes. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for a free consultation regarding your Allegheny County assessment appeal.

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.

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.

Assessment Appeals: Frequently Asked Questions

BW-SQ-City-150x150.jpgThe court-ordered 2013 property reassessment leaves many Allegheny County property owners with questions. Information comes from many sources-the media, the courts, and the county-and sometimes it can be hard to digest all of it. In talking to hundreds of property owners in Allegheny County, we have found that some questions keep coming up. So this page includes many of the most frequently asked questions about the 2013 reassessment and the assessment appeal process.

How much are my taxes going to increase?

The exact amount of your tax increase will not be known until all 2013 millage rates are published. But it is not necessarily true that an increased assessed value will mean increased taxes, because taxing authorities are required to adjust their millage rates down to account for a reassessment that raises values across the board.

How much will I save if I get a reduction in my assessed value?

A good rule of thumb is that every $10,000 in assessed value means $250-$300 per year in taxes.

Should I hire an attorney to represent me at the appeal hearing?

Property owners can represent themselves at the appeal hearing and at the Board of Viewers, but it may be a bad idea. Experienced attorneys will give you the best chance at reducing your value and your tax bill. At the Kisner Law Firm, we know how to put together the strongest possible case for the lowest possible value. After we provide a complimentary evaluation, we only recommend retaining our firm if we believe we have a strong case.

How long does it take to get results back after the formal appeal hearing?

So far, in 2013, we are finding that most results take at least 6-12 weeks to be mailed after the hearing date.

How long do I have to appeal to the Board of Viewers?

If you are not satisfied with the result of the formal appeal hearing, you must appeal to the Board of Viewers within 30 days by filing with the Court of Common Pleas.

Is it too late to start an appeal this year?

The deadline to file a formal appeal was April 2, 2012. The court did allow late appeals to be filed as recently as August 28, but it is unlikely that any any more new appeals will be allowed in the year 2012. However, there may be another opportunity for owners to appeal early in 2013, just as they can in a typical (non-reassessment) year.

Allegheny County, board of viewers, Court-Ordered Reassessment, formal appeal, formal assessment appeal, formal hearing, kisner law firm, late appeal, late assessment appeal, late property assessment appeal, Property Tax Appeals, Real Estate Assessment Ap

BW-Bridge-SQ-150x150.jpgAlthough the official April 2 deadline to file formal appeals is long past, Judge Wettick allowed hundreds of property owners to file their appeals late. Approximately 500 owners appeared Tuesday, August 28, to present their motions for late appeals. The county, municipalities, and school districts that could have opposed the motions for late appeals chose not to contest them, so the court granted the motions.

The next step for these owners is to wait until notified by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review that the appeal has been processed. The county will automatically schedule an assessment appeal hearing.

How long does it take to get a hearing and get results?

In our experience so far this year, the county sometimes takes several months from the date of filing an appeal until the hearing is scheduled. We know that some appeals filed on April 2 still have no hearing date scheduled yet. When the hearing notices are mailed out, they may be sent only 1 or 2 weeks before the date of the hearing. We expect hearings to continue through the fall. We know the county is working hard to complete all the appeals by the end of the year.

After a hearing is held, the results are usually not mailed for another 6-8 weeks. If the property owner or a taxing body is not satisfied with the results, the case can be appealed to the Board of Viewers.

The Kisner Law Firm can help

Even though these owners won the right to have an appeal this year, they still need to win the actual appeal. If you are an owner who won the right to file a late appeal, 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
  • If necessary, appeal to the Board of Viewers

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.

Allegheny County Reassessments - Final Informal Decisions

BW-RE-SQ-300x300.jpg

Many of the nearly 69,000 Allegheny County property owners who requested informal appeals as a result of the $11 million court-ordered real-estate revaluation are still waiting on decisions from their hearings. These decisions could have a considerable impact on County property owners moving forward into the formal appeal proceedings. Approximately 47% of property owners who filed informal appeals were awarded a reduction in their assessed value, though some of these homeowners will see less than $10,000 shaved off of their tax bills. As a result, some of the 100,000-plus property owners who filed formal appeals may drop their challenges. Many property owners, however, will not receive a favorable decision. To be sure, half of of the informal appeals resulted in no change at all to the value of their property and three (3) percent even saw an increase in their assessed value. For these individuals, a special appeal may represent the best opportunity to effectively dispute their reassessment. Whether you have already filed a formal appeal, received unfavorable informal results, or missed the April 2nd deadline and would like to file a late appeal, the Kisner Law Firm may be able to help you.

Presenting Your Best Case

The Kisner Law Firm is already representing hundreds of owners across Allegheny County. Our firm uses professional-level real estate tools including a 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. This methodology allows us to present the best possible case at your appeal.

Filing A Late Formal Appeal

While the deadline to file an appeal for the 2013 reassessed values has already passed, it may not be too late to get your appeal filed. In late August, Judge R. Stanton Wettick is hearing Motions to file late appeals. Following the procedures prescribed by the County, Kisner Law Firm can step in immediately on your behalf and represent your interests before both Judge Wettick and the Review Board. The experience and professional services offered by Kisner Law Firm can greatly increase the likelihood that your late appeal will be accepted. Don't miss out on the last opportunity of the year to save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in real estate taxes.

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. When the hearing date or court date (for Board of Viewer appeals) arrives, you don't even need to attend. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the formal hearing and even at the Board of Viewers (if necessary). We need at least one week notice so we can fully prepare. The Kisner Law Firm can provide you with a free evaluation of your case and the kind of evidence we can put together for your appeal. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for an evaluation of your case so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.

Reassessing Property Reassessments

BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgAllegheny County Property Reassessments have been a hot topic for County residents and lawmakers for the majority of 2012. Recently, the Pennsylvania State Legislature removed a provision from Senate Bill 1546 which would have allowed counties to opt out of court-ordered reassessments. For Allegheny County property owners, this means that the County will proceed with the court-ordered reassessments and that property owners will see a change in their tax bills for 2013. Because it is unlikely that another countywide reassessment will take place in the next 10 years, these new values could stay with property owners for another decade. With tax implications potentially lasting another 10 years, now, more than ever, it is important for property owners to consider an assessment appeal.

It's Not Too Late

While the deadline to file an appeal for the 2013 reassessed values has already passed, it may not be too late to get your appeal filed. For those of you who missed the April 2 deadline, Kisner Law Firm may be able to help you with a late appeal.

In late August, Judge R. Stanton Wettick is hearing Motions to file late appeals. Following the procedures prescribed by the County, Kisner Law Firm can step in immediately on your behalf and represent your interests before both Judge Wettick and the Review Board. The experience and professional services offered by Kisner Law Firm can greatly increase the likelihood that your late appeal will be accepted. Don't miss out on the last opportunity of the year to save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in real estate taxes.

The Kisner Law Firm

The Kisner Law Firm is already representing hundreds of owners across Allegheny County, and we can step in at any time to provide representation, even if you have already had your formal hearing. We need at least one week notice so we can fully prepare. When the hearing date or court date (for Board of Viewer appeals) arrives, you don't even need to attend. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the formal hearing and even at the Board of Viewers (if necessary). The Kisner Law Firm can provide you with a free evaluation of your case and the kind of evidence we can put together for your appeal. Our firm uses professional-level real estate tools including a 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. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for an evaluation of your case so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.

Late Filing Your Allegheny County Property Assessment Appeal?

BW-RE-SQ-300x300.jpgThe deadline to file an appeal for the 2013 reassessed values was April 2, and many property owners elected to file appeals. There are, however, many property owners who did not file timely appeals for one reason or another. For those of you who missed the April 2 deadline, Kisner Law Firm may be able to help you with a late appeal.

Last chance to file your appeal

In July and August, Judge R. Stanton Wettick is hearing Motions to file late appeals. Following the procedures prescribed by the County, Kisner Law Firm can step in immediately on your behalf and represent your interests before both Judge Wettick and the Review Board. The experience and professional services offered by Kisner Law Firm can greatly increase the likelihood that your late appeal will be accepted. Don't miss out on the last opportunity of the year to save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in real estate taxes.

Consider legal representation

Whether you are among the property owners who filed an appeal and are waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, or if you are considering filing a late appeal, you should consider retaining an attorney to represent you. An experienced real estate attorney will help you avoid the most common mistakes and help you put together the strongest possible case for the lowest possible assessed value.

You are not required to have an attorney to appeal your property assessment, but there are many advantages of having one. If you choose to represent yourself at the formal hearing without being properly prepared, be advised that the assessed value for your home may actually increase as a result of the hearing.

The Kisner Law Firm

The Kisner Law Firm is already representing hundreds of owners across Allegheny County, and we can step in at any time up until your hearing if you have one coming up. We need at least one week notice before the hearing date so we can fully prepare. When the hearing date arrives, you don't even need to attend. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the motion hearing, the informal and formal hearings, and even at the Board of Viewers (if necessary). The Kisner Law Firm can provide you with a free evaluation of your case and the kind of evidence we can put together for your appeal. Our firm uses professional-level real estate tools including a 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. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for an evaluation of your case so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.

Property Assessment Appeals and Hearings

As property owners in Pittsburgh and across Allegheny County know, the 2013 court-ordered reassessment assigned new assessed values to every property in the county. Almost all assessed values increased, and many increased significantly. In response, thousands of owners filed informal appeals and formal appeals, challenging their assessments. Keep reading for information about the Kisner Law Firm, the appeal process, preparing a strong case, and frequently asked questions.

The Kisner Law Firm

Thumbnail image for BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgThe Kisner Law Firm helps property owners from all across Allegheny County in their assessment appeals. We can step in at any time up and take over the whole process for you. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the hearing, and if we are not satisfied with the reduction, we will even take the case to the Board of Viewers with no extra legal fee. We request that you retain our firm at least one week before the hearing date so we can fully prepare to put on a strong case. When the hearing date arrives, you don't even need to attend. Just relax and let us handle everything.

We are proud of our record of getting great assessed value reductions for our clients. Read about our recent success stories to see the kinds of results we work to get.

We always provide a complimentary evaluation of the property and the strength of the evidence available before you retain us. Our firm uses professional-level real estate databases that allow us to analyze any property in Allegheny County. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for a free evaluation of your property so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.

The assessment appeal process

For the 2013 court-ordered reassessment, the assessment appeal process has several primary steps:

  1. The informal appeal. Informal appeals were held during the spring and summer months. The hearings were intended to focus primarily on mistakes in the county database regarding property characteristics (square footage, number of bedrooms, etc.). This gave property owners the chance to appeal in a more casual setting, without opposition from attorneys representing the municipality or school district. About half of the property owners who filed informal appeals received some form of reduction in value. But most of the reductions were minor, and the other half did not receive any reduction, so formal appeals were needed.
  2. The formal appeal. Formal appeals started in the summer and are scheduled to run at least until the end of October. You should receive a Notice of Scheduled Assessment Appeal Hearing in the mail at least two weeks before the hearing date. The hearing is an opportunity for the property owner or legal representative to present evidence of a lower value.
  3. The Board of Viewers. Several weeks after the formal appeal hearing, the disposition is mailed, which tells the owner whether the formal hearing was successful or not. After the formal appeal hearing, the next step is to appeal to the Board of Viewers, part of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.
Preparing a strong case

Chairs.jpgWithout strong evidence that the property is overassessed, the most likely result is no change in value. The most common reason cited in the disposition is "insufficient evidence." We know property owners hate to see an unfavorable result when they spent their time fighting an unfair assessment. After years of successfully representing property owners in assessment appeals, our firm knows what mistakes to avoid and what points to emphasize. These are the most common factors that we use to contribute to the strength of a case:

  1. The recent sale of the subject property. If you recently (within the past 2-4 years) bought your house for an amount less than the assessed value, that is a great argument for reducing the assessment. However, if you recently purchased your house for more than the assessed value, an attorney is probably needed to address that counter-evidence.
  2. Recent comparable sales. The recent sales of comparable properties is usually the backbone of a strong appeal case. We like to find comparable sales that:
    • are within the last 1-2 years
    • are a short distance from the subject
    • have similar physical characteristics
    • are the same type of building (split-level, 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.
For more information...

For more information, or for a free evaluation, contact the Kisner Law Firm today. You can also consult our Frequently Asked Questions page or our Legal Blog for more information related to the 2013 court-ordered reassessments and the appeal process.

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