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Tax Assessment Appeals

Our attorneys represent commercial and industrial property owners before boards of appeals and courts across Pennsylvania who seek a reduction in their real estate tax obligations, or to defend the assessed value or exemption status from a local taxing authority’s challenge.  Our Tax Assessment Appeals team has represented owners and lessees of a wide variety of property types including office, retail including conventional malls, power centers and lifestyle centers, restaurants, banks, hotels, multi-family including affordable housing, industrial plants, manufacturing facilities, cellular towers, landfills, vacant land, and underground mineral interests.

Pennsylvania has a real estate tax assessment system that is rather unique, to put it charitably.  Assessments are managed on the county level, and nearly all Pennsylvania counties operate under a “base year” system with no regular re-assessment schedule.  Some counties have not re-assessed for decades, which invariably leads to non-uniformity in the assessments countywide.  Naturally, such a system is fraught with inaccuracies, as a particular property’s real estate value can change on a dime for a myriad of reasons.

In Pennsylvania, despite the assessments being established in a given base year, property owners and taxing jurisdictions have the right to assert assessment appeals each year.  Such appeals are very often asserted upon evidence of current market value multiplied by an annually-published countywide assessment ratio.  Importantly, while a property’s assessment might appear very low relative to current market value, the property may nonetheless be entitled to a reduction in the assessment once the applicable ratio is applied to its current market value.

Our attorneys welcome the opportunity to speak with owners, lessees, and tax managers about evaluating the assessments in Pennsylvania real estate portfolios to identify assessment reduction opportunities.  When such an opportunity is identified, we represent our property tax client with the client’s bottom line in mind.  We know the appeals processes statewide, and the nuances of Pennsylvania assessment and exemption law, and how to prepare for and present the case at trial.  We help clients navigate Pennsylvania’s unique real estate tax assessment scheme.  We handle appeals on a contingency fee or hourly basis depending upon the nature of the project and our client’s preference.

“While a property’s assessment might appear very low relative to current market value, the property may nonetheless be entitled to a reduction in the assessment once the applicable ratio is applied to its current market value.”

– Peter H. Schnore