Property owners in Washington County recently received notices of real estate reassessments. This marks the first County-wide reassessment in Washington County since 1981. County and municipal taxes will be calculated based on the new valuations starting on January 1, 2017, and school taxes will be calculated on these new values starting on July 1, 2017.
Washington County assessments are currently based on 25% of a parcel’s fair market value. However, after the reassessment, the assessments will be based on 100% of the fair market value. For example, under the current system, a property valued at $200,000.00 is assessed at $50,000.00. However, after the reassessment, a property valued at $200,000.00 will be assessed at $200,000.00. As a result, most property owners have seen a significant increase in the assessed values of their properties. However, this does not translate into a commensurate increase in real estate taxes, as Pennsylvania law prohibits school districts from receiving a windfall in total taxes collected from a reassessment, and municipalities cannot receive more than a five percent (5%) increase in total taxes collected as a result of the reassessment.
Property owners have until August 10, 2016 to file a formal assessment appeal with the Washington County Tax Revenue Department. At the subsequent appeal hearing, property owners will be able to present evidence in opposition to the assessed value. This evidence can include, but is not limited to, sales of comparable properties, defects in the structure or in the condition of the land, and negative aspects of the property’s location. Following the appeal hearing, the Department will issue a decision, and any aggrieved party will have 30 days to appeal that decision to the Washington County Court of Common Pleas.
At Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP, our experience and hard work can help property owners through the appeal process, possibly saving property owners money, by obtaining a lower assessed value. While every case is unique, factors such as the size and use of the property, comparable sales of properties in the area, and age and nature of structures in the property have an impact on the assessed value. It is important to evaluate the possibility of a tax assessment appeal and to consider obtaining an independent appraisal when you believe that your property was inaccurately assessed. Analysis of the accuracy of the property assessment is an essential component to managing your valuable real estate assets.
For more information about Washington County real estate tax re-assessment appeals or other real estate matters, please feel free to contact Frank Kosir, Jr. or any of the attorneys in Meyer, Unkovic & Scott’s award-winning Real Estate & Lending Group.