Schools, county, and municipal governments rely on the real
estate tax as their primary source of revenue. The court system,
social services programs, and some infrastructure such as county
roads and water systems, are also supported by tax revenues
collected from property owners based on the "assessed value"
of their real estate holdings.
The constitution of the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania mandates that all property owners shall pay
their fair share of tax, based on the "fair market value"
of their property. State law requires that the real estate
tax be implemented by county government. It is the legal responsibility
of the county Board of Assessment to establish the fair market
value (the probable typical selling price) for each parcel
of real estate in the county at the time of the reassessment.
my taxes go up because of a reassessment?
Not necessarily. In a typical reassessment, about one third
of the real estate tax bills will go up, and about one third
will go down, depending, in each individual case, whether the
property was under-assessed or over-assessed. Back
this just another way for the county to get more money?
Many people mistakenly think that if their present value is
brought to today's market value, their tax bill will increase
by a proportional amount. This cannot happen because the reassessment
process, according to state law, must be "revenue neutral."
All taxing districts are required to lower their tax millage
by a ratio equal to the ratio of the tax base increase. This
process is called "equalizing the millage."
For example: If a taxing district's
current year assessed value was $1.2B, it would generate $30M
in revenue if the millage was set at 25 mills. If, after reassessment,
the total assessed value doubled to $2.4B, the taxing district
would be required to cut the millage in half, (to 12.5 mills )
in order to generate no more than $30M.
Because reassessment is "revenue neutral,"
it cannnot be used as a means of generating more tax revenue.
The taxing authority may choose to collect additional revenue
after the equalized millage is set. However, the amount of
increase is limited: not more than 5% increase for counties,
townships, and boroughs and not more than 10% increase for
school districts. Back
does "Clean and Green" mean?
State law allows for the potential reduction of real estate
taxes through the "Clean and Green" program and the Homestead/Farmstead
The "Clean and Green" program allows
land parcels ten acres or more in size, which are devoted
to agricultural and forest land use, to be assessed at a value
based on use rather than Fair Market Value. The intent of
this program is to provide some tax relief which will encourage
property owners to retain land in agricultural or forest land
use. The potential tax savings under this program are significant.
is the Homestead and Farmstead Exclusion Program?
The Homestead and Farmstead exclusion,
a new program initiated in 1998, is aimed at providing real
estate tax relief to homeowners whose permanent residence
is in a participating taxing jurisdiction, and eliminating
nuisance taxes such as the occupation tax. Under current law,
this program is only available to school districts who choose
to shift the school tax burden from the real property tax
to an earned income tax. Back
can I do if I do not agree with the appraisal of my property?
If you question any part of the assessment notice, you may request
an informal review by telephone. An information specialist will
verify details of your property description and make minor corrections,
If you think you have evidence that
may affect the market value of your property, or, if you would
like to meet with a representative face-to-face, call the
county Assessment Office to make an appointment.
An appraiser will meet with you, review,
and correct (if necessary), the information from which your
property value was estimated, and consider any evidence that
you may bring with you to the meeting. Your evidence might
include a recent appraisal, photographs, maps, or other pertinent
If changes are justified, your market
value will be adjusted by the appraiser.
If, after informal review, you are
not satisfied with the new Fair Market Value, you may ask
for a formal hearing before the County Board of
Assessment Appeals. At a formal hearing, you will be expected
to present evidence of value to support your argument. The
burden of proof falls on the property owner. You must be able
to substantiate your opinion of value. Back