Share This Page

Depends on location

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Aaron Aupperlee's news story “Gap between property values, sales a homeowner's boon in Allegheny County” appears to be good news for taxpayers but the “common level ratio” cuts both ways, depending on where a property is in Allegheny County. Until the ratio dips below 85 percent, it will punish taxpayers buying homes in areas that are appreciating in value.

Why? The taxing bodies will continue to win appeals on homes being sold, based on retail sales prices with 3-year-old base-year assessments. In a landmark state Supreme Court decision in 2006, the justices wrote that the General Assembly's flawed and possibly unconstitutional assessment scheme “has, in effect, carved out a class of taxpayers who are subjected to an unfairly high tax burden — namely, those whose assessment is appealed by any taxing district in which the property is located. ... (Because) this classification is not based on any legitimate distinction between the targeted and non-targeted properties, it is arbitrary, and thus, unconstitutional. ... Indeed, the unfairness arising out of such a scheme is acknowledged by the Board of Assessment Appeals ... .”

It's important to note that Washington County is having a court-ordered reassessment because the variance of 1981 assessments to current sales prices is more than 15 percent. This means high-end commercial properties are appealed and receiving huge assessment reductions before reassessment. This shifts the tax burden to the residential sector in most cases, because millage is adjusted to compensate for the diminished assessment roll.

One person's tax break is another person's tax. The General Assembly must amend the archaic and unfair assessment and tax laws.

Michael J. Suley

Mt. Lebanon

The writer is a past president of the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.