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Assessment situation truly unappealing

Colin McNickle and Jake Haulk are in agreement that Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto’s withdrawal of 1,300 residential property tax assessment appeals ( “Of Uber, property taxes & muskets” ) doesn’t resolve the issue of fair taxation in Allegheny County. There is also no reason for new city home buyers to run a victory lap. Why? There is a good chance that the Pittsburgh Public Schools might appeal all of the affected properties. If so, the county appeals board will find a market value at the full sales price. Game over. The winners will be the city, school district and county, which will be entitled to send out tax bills on the new, increased assessments. As Yogi Berra might have said, this process is not over until it’s over.

But there is hope for property owners. Because the county refuses to periodically update assessments, the state monitors assessment inequity annually. The tax equalization board has determined that Allegheny County assessments are only 92 percent accurate for this tax year, based on appeals decisions. That means that a market value decision of $100,000 results in an assessment of $92,000 for this tax year. Haulk also failed to talk about the statutory right to argue a base year methodology on appeal. If the property owner successfully argues and wins a base year argument all sales after January 1, 2012 are ignored. Alternative remedies are available to taxing bodies and property owners on appeal until the next court-ordered reassessment.

Mike Suley

Mt. Lebanon


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