Letter to the editor: Fairness in assessment appeals
In 2018, many people bought homes in Allegheny County. Many of these new homeowners are now receiving notices from taxing bodies informing them that they are being considered for the Newcomer’s Tax. The tax is a penalty for buying a home with a bad assessment. This results in 35% to 40% annual increases in property taxes. County lawmakers have no plans to update values. This results is unequal, but legal, taxation of similar homes. There is a dim light of hope in the short term for newcomers.
In 2018, the state equalization board concluded that the common level ratio of assessments to arm’s length sales prices in Allegheny County was 86.2%. The factor is a result of the state finding the mean ratio of old assessments to 2018 sales. This means that assessment uniformity is measured more accurately than in the past. Advantage: Property owners. This means that all of the 2018 homebuyers in Allegheny County had assessments that were 86.2% of the sales price. The factor goes down as property values go up. Other examples of lower CLRs: Westmoreland County, 14.4; Butler County, 9.3%.
The county appeals board and the court are using a higher factor from 2017. This is absurd.
The remedy is simple. The appeals process must apply the 2018 factor based on the 2018 sales. If they refuse, this matter may end up in the courts. Property owners under appeal in Allegheny County, for a 2018 sale, should request the lower 86.2% factor now. It’s a matter of fairness.
The writer, an assessment and real estate consultant, is a former manager of Allegheny County’s Office of Property Assessments.