More About the Lancaster County Reassessment – First Step

April 7, 2017

I continue to talk to friends and neighbors and clients who are confused, concerned, annoyed or worried about the reassessment and what it means for their future tax bills.  I’ve heard a lot of people say that the assessors are off their rockers if they think their home’s value has increased as much as the reassessments show.  It’s obvious the property reassessments are still a hot topic and seem to be on every homeowner’s mind.  I anticipate I will continue to be involved in assessment discussion even after June 1 rolls around and the final notices land in our mailboxes.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you already know how the reassessments work and have heard my tips to help you decide if an appeal may be your best option.  Hopefully, you’ve taken my advice and started to do some research of your own.

If you think you found something that will help you show that your assessment is off, start preparing for the appeal process now.  If any of the major facts in your assessment are incorrect, you may have a quick and easy challenge. Let’s face it, if your square footage has all of a sudden doubled, it’s an easy appeal.  But most other situations will require some more leg work on your end, and likely a lot more time to prepare. 

For instance, when deciding whether or not it is worth your while to appeal, looking at recent sale prices of comparable properties in your neighborhood is a pretty good indicator.  But once you determine that your assessed amount is much higher than all those recent sales, it’s not going to be enough to convince the Assessment Board that an adjustment needs to be made.  In this case, you’re going to need to get an independent appraisal of your home’s value in order to plead your case.  Not only will this take some time, but  you will need to pay the appraiser at least a few hundred dollars.  Determining whether or not you should pursue an appeal may be more difficult than you first thought when you opened the notice a few weeks ago.

Our office is ready to help review your unique circumstances and guide you through the process of making that determination.  We are offering all Lancaster County homeowners an initial consultation to help you decide if it makes sense to file an appeal.  After review of your situation, we will discuss the likelihood of a successful appeal and discuss the next steps.   If you decide that an appeal is appropriate, the consultation fee of $175.00 will be applied to a flat fee of $300.00 to complete the initial appeal process.  Although this fee includes our attendance at the appeal hearing, it does not include the cost of an appraisal or other incidental expenses.

If you’re confused or just annoyed by trying to gain a complete understanding of assessments, reassessments, common level ratio, millage rates and taxing jurisdictions, we are happy to help.  You can appeal a tax assessment in any year, so long as your appeal is filed before August.  But this may be the best time to appeal.  Due to the reassessment this year, there is no fee to file an appeal.  Plus, if your assessment is reduced, that reduction only applies moving forward.  If you wait until next year, you will lose the extra property tax that you paid based on your new 2017 assessment. If you have a good reason to appeal your new assessment, there is no time like now.

Kathleen Krafft Miller is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Widener University and regularly advises homeowners and individuals on legal matters ranging from tax assessment appeals to domestic relations matters and estate planning.