By: Kenneth C. Foltz, Sr., Esq.
Starting in 2014, Washington County began the process of reassessing all properties within the County. This is the first time in 35 years that Washington County has undergone a property tax assessment. Residential property owners should have received the new property tax assessments in March 2016, while commercial property owners are expected to receive the new assessments by the end of April. The new property assessments will go into effect in 2017 and reflect the total assessment of a particular property.
In Pennsylvania, each county uses a different base year to determine the assessed value of the property. Although the taxing bodies in Washington County, including the County, City/Township, and School Districts, are supposed to assess real property at fair market value for the base year, the assessed value is often inaccurate and inflated. It is a common mistake for a property owner to assume that the assessment amount is an accurate reflection of the value of their property. In reality, a variety of factors should be considered when reviewing the assessment amount, including:
- Size of the land area and building;
- Main use of the property;
- Comparable sales of similar properties in the area;
- Age of the property; and
- Types of structures on the property.
Since it has been many years since properties were reassessed in Washington County, there is a strong potential for property owners to have significant sticker shock when they receive their reassessment notice. Currently, the assessed value of properties is 25% of the fair market value. When the new assessments go into effect, the assessed value will be 100% of the fair market value. Property owners will have approximately two months to informally appeal the new assessments. Thereafter, property owners will have until August 10, 2016, to appeal the assessments through the formal appeal process. It is good practice to review a property’s assessed value each year in order to determine whether the assessment is consistent with the market value of the property, or whether a tax appeal might be warranted.
If you believe your real property was inaccurately assessed, you may want to consider obtaining an independent appraisal and also filing a tax assessment appeal.
Leech Tishman has a Property Tax Appeal Program available to help clients file an appeal, and has experience guiding property owners through the assessment appeal process and, oftentimes, helping property owners obtain a lower assessed value. Our Real Estate Practice Group has an in-depth knowledge of commercial property tax assessment appeal matters along with higher-end residential appeals. If you have any questions about assessment appeals in Washington County and would like our legal team to review your new assessments for accuracy, please contact:
- Ken Foltz, Partner, Real Estate Practice Group / 412.261.1600 / firstname.lastname@example.org or
- Ryan Hemminger, Partner, Litigation Practice Group / 412.261.1600 / email@example.com or
- Amanda L. Fitzhugh Porter, Associate, Energy Practice Group / 412.261.1600 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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