Time to Start Thinking About Filing an Annual Tax Assessment Appeal

June 17, 2015

It is that time again to start thinking about whether you want to file an assessment appeal challenging the assessed value of your real estate.  Property taxes are based on the assessed value of real estate, and the assessed value of the real estate should reflect the fair market value.  In Lancaster County, these appeals are heard annually in the fall, and the deadline for filing is August 1.  Last year, on August 5, we had an initial inquiry from someone about filing an appeal and had to explain that while an appeal could be filed at any time, only appeals filed by the deadline of August 1 would be heard and decided in that year.

Another reason to start thinking about this now is to allow sufficient time to obtain an appraisal of your property. Because the property owner must provide credible evidence that the assessment is out of line with fair market value, generally a relatively current appraisal or recent arms’ length purchase is necessary to support your appeal.

Last July, I blogged on how to know whether an assessment appeal is warranted and how the predetermined common level ratio (CLR) is the factor that is applied to the assessed value to correlate to fair market value.  Right now, the CLR is 1.26 but new ratios will be issued early in July.  Usually, it is a modest change, and for the purposes of deciding whether an appeal is warranted, we use the 1.26 ratio currently in effect.

If you have questions about the assessment appeal process, call or email us as soon as possible so that we can do what needs to be done by end of next month.

Christina Hausner is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, PA.  She received her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law and practices in a variety of areas.