Allegheny County Property Assessments
Tax Appeal Lawyers
Flaherty Fardo, LLC has helped thousands of property owners reduce Allegheny County property assessments. Free Consultations: 412.802.6666
ALERT! – Allegheny 2013 Appeal Deadline Extended.
- What do I need to know?
- How do I find out my new assessment?
- What is Flaherty Fardo’s experience?
- What is the Informal Review?
- What is the Formal Appeal?
- What is the Board of Viewers (BOV)?
- How is property valued?
- What is the appeals process?
- What do attorneys charge for a tax appeal?
- What is the contingency agreement?
- What are your flat fees?
- What are your most read assessment articles?
- What do your past clients have to say?
What do I need to know?
- On February 5, 2013 Allegheny County Council approved ordinance #7331-13 reopening the 2013 appeal deadline to April 1, 2013.
- Here is a copy of the new 2013 appeal form.
- Property owners who did not file in 2012 and/or are recent home-buyers will have a new opportunity to appeal.
- If you are already involved in a pending appeal, you should know delays have been common. Also, there have been numerous cases where information has been lost.
- If you have questions about a pending appeal, we strongly recommend contacting the Allegheny Office of Property Assessment for an update.
- Yes. We do offer free consultations on all commercial and residential properties in Allegheny County.
If you would like a FREE CONSULTATION concerning Allegheny County property assessments, please feel free to call Attorneys Noah Paul Fardo or Nicole Hauptman at 412.802.6666 or email us at email@example.com.
How do I find out my new assessment?
You need to go to the Allegheny County Website.
What is your experience?
For over 10 years, Flaherty Fardo, LLC has been synonymous with Allegheny County property assessments.
We have helped thousands of commercial and residential property owners challenge unfair property assessments at all levels of the tax appeal process.
Our efforts have reduced total property assessments in excess of 100 million dollars. In 2011, our largest single reduction was in excess of 10.5 million dollars for a commercial property located in Pittsburgh, PA, saving our client over $411,000.00 in property taxes in that single appeal. Past success does not guarantee results, but does help demonstrate our experience in this business.
We have successfully represented numerous commercial properties including malls, shopping centers, office buildings, apartment complexes, car dealerships, hotels, motels and restaurants. Our commercial experience includes actual litigation and trial experience in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. We believe it is a benefit to our clients that we have significant jury and non-jury trial experience.
Our experienced has also focused on estate homes with an emphasis on Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Edgeworth, Bell Acres, Fox Chapel, Pine, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Squirell Hill, Shadyside, and Collier Township. Many of these properties are too unique to apply standard assessment principles.
Our services always include all levels of the appeal process for any and all years involved in the appeal.
I. What is the Informal Review?
In reassessment years, (such as 2012), property owners are provided an opportunity to file an informal tax appeal first. The informal hearing process is an expedited version of the formal appeal process and these hearings are held on the 3rd floor of the Allegheny County Office building. It consists of an administrative hearing in front of a real estate professional. In years past, the informal process was used only to correct building inaccuracies. In 2012, Allegheny County is allowing property owners to challenge assessment values.
The informal hearings typically last 5 to 15 minutes. Property owners are afforded the opportunity to correct inaccurate data about their property and to supply comparable sales to demonstrate that their property value is over-assessed.
The main difference between the informal and formal appeal is that the taxing entities are NOT present at the informal appeal hearing. This can be a significant advantage for property owners because evidence cannot be cross-examined by the taxing entities.
If a property owner is unsuccessful, then a formal appeal is necessary. The formal appeal deadline is April 2, 2012. We have advised property owners to file both the informal appeal and the formal appeal at the same time so as not to miss the formal appeal deadline and to protect their legal rights.
II. What is the Formal Appeal?
The formal appeal, often referred to as the BPAAR (Board of Property Assessment and Review) appeal is also an administrative hearing, held before a real estate professional. The BPAAR hearings typically occur on the 3rd floor of the Allegheny County Office Building.
As opposed to the informal hearing, the formal hearing is often attended by attorneys for the taxing entities and, at times, a county assessor. All non-attorneys are sworn in under oath, and the hearings are recorded. Property owners need to understand that they may be cross-examined by the attorney for the taxing entities.
Whoever filed the appeal has the burden of proving that the current assessment is incorrect. The hearing officer listens, allows the parties to cross-examine each other, and may ask questions on their own. At the end of the hearing, no decision is rendered and the hearing officer makes a written recommendation to the actual Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment.
A decision is then rendered from the BPAAR, and all parties have 30 days to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, de novo (meaning fresh or new).
CAUTION: Decision letters from the BPAAR state: “ALL DECISIONS ARE FINAL”. This is false and misleading. What the assessment office means is that decisions are final from their department only. Property owners still have the right to appeal the decision to the Allegheny County Board of Viewers.
III. What is the BOV? (Allegheny County Board of Viewers)
The Board of Viewers is the final process of the tax appeal system in Allegheny County. It is the most formal process, and involves actual Hearing Masters who sit in a judicial capacity. The Board of Viewers is located on the 8th floor of the City-County building.
As opposed to the lower levels, only attorneys can represent property owners at the Board of Viewers. These hearings often involve multiple years, and may have thousands of dollars at stake.
If the parties are unable to reach a resolution prior to trial, the case is fully litigated in accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. If a property owner retains legal counsel for a hearing at the Board of Viewers, it is important to make sure that their attorney has actual trial experience.
How is Property Valued in Allegheny County?
For 2012, Allegheny County is still using the 2002 base year system. This means that all properties should be assessed at what the fair market value of the property was as of January 1, 2002. However, recent court decisions have also allowed property owners to use current market value (i.e. value as of January 1, 2012) if the property owner believes their property has declined in value since 2002.
For 2013, Allegheny County will be assessing all properties using a 2012 base year system. Quite simply, this means that all properties in Allegheny County will be assessed for 2013 using their fair market value as of January 1, 2012. The deadline to appeal either the 2012 or 2013 assessments is April 2, 2012.
Pennsylvania assessment laws require that real estate be valued according to its “actual value” and at a bona fide rate and price for which the property would separately sell. The courts have interpreted actual value to mean market value.
Market value has been defined by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court as: “the price in a competitive market a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obligated to sell, taking into consideration all the legal uses to which the property can be adapted and might reasonably be applied.”
To establish the “actual” value of property, the county may use current year market values or it may adopt a base year for market values. For the most part, properties are assessed at a set percentage of base year values. Property is only assessed at current market value when a county wide reassessment has been conducted and implemented. Unless a county reassesses all properties every year, the property assessments will be predicated upon base year values (the last year in which the county reassessed). The same methodology must be used to value property throughout the county; that is, when a county adopts a base year for market value, then all property in the county must be valued as of the same base year. As stated, for 2012, the base year will be 2002. For 2013, the base year will be 2012.
Read more: Allegheny County Property Assessment FAQ’s
What is the Process for Allegheny County Property Assessment Appeals?
There are 3 levels to the tax appeal process in Allegheny County, PA.
How do you charge?
Our success has been based, in large part, on our referrals. We understand that tax appeals is a word-of -mouth business, and unless your clients are satisfied, you cannot establish lengthy years of representation.
We take pride in offering a fair fee system for our clients. We like to provide clients with fee options for their tax appeal by offering either contingency or flat fee agreements. We analyze every single case first, before offering representation or a proposed fee. We believe this helps ensure that legal fees are not quoted unless we believe there will be a financial savings to our clients and hopefully referrals in the future.
What are your Contingency Agreements?
The contingency fee agreement means that we do not receive a legal fee unless we are successful in reducing the owner’s property taxes. We charge a contingency of ONLY the actual tax savings for ONLY the year(s) under appeal. Many of these appeals may last multiple years, and it is important to know whether or not you will be charged for a year which is not under appeal.
Some law firms may actually charge for future years after your appeal has ended. We NEVER charge for a year which is not under appeal.
If we win your tax appeal, would we use a contingency agreement based on the actual tax savings for 2013 only. If for some reason, the appeal extended into 2014, we also charge a contingency of the 2014 savings, but only if services were actually rendered in 2014. We never charge for a year(s) whereby services were not rendered in that calendar year. Be careful if you are offered services that charge for future years which may not be under appeal.
What are your Flat fees?
In the alternative, we also often quote flat fees which cover the appeal in its entirety. Flat fees are quoted on a case by case basis and are a smart financial option for clients with significant property taxes at stake.
Before retaining an attorney, property owners should confirm that any and all hearings and appeals are covered by a flat fee representation. With the reassessment attracting many lawyers, realtors and appraisers into this business, many property owners are being solicited with flat fees that do not cover the entire process.
Once retained, our representation under both fee options includes the informal hearing, the formal hearing, and the Board of Viewer hearing for any and all years under appeal regardless of the amount of savings. Our fees also include any actual trial or litigation necessary at the Board of Viewers. We believe our experience with actual courtroom litigation of these cases is an advantage for our clients.
It is important to note, that we do not accept all cases and only represent a property owner once there is a signed fee agreement in place. We work hard to advise clients whether or not it makes sense financially to retain our services and client satisfaction is our primary objective.
If you would like a free consultation, please call attorneys Noah Paul Fardo or Nicole Hauptman directly at 412.802.6666 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allegheny County Property Assessments
Most Read Allegheny County Property Assessment Articles:
- Secrets to Winning Your 2013 Tax Appeal
- Should Commercial Property Owners Bypass the First Hearing?
- How to Defend 2012 & 2013 School Tax Appeals
- Did Outsourcing Cause Allegheny County Assessment Chaos?
- Top 10 Mistakes Made By Property Owners
Please also visit our Allegheny Assessment Blog for Hints and Tips for Property Owners:
Read Our Latest Property Assessment Articles:
- Allegheny County Ignores Appeal Results & Sends Wrong Tax Bills.
- 2013 Allegheny County Assessment Updates
- Allegheny County Assessments News and Updates
- Judge Denies Request to Lower Assessments
- Should Commercial Property Owners Bypass the First Hearing?
- Status Update for Allegheny County Property Assessments
- Secrets to Winning Your 2013 Allegheny Tax Appeal
- RESULTS OF INFORMAL HEARINGS RELEASED
- Allegheny County Reassessment Update
- Will Legislation Stop the Reassessments?
- How to Defend 2012 & 2013 School Tax Appeals.
- “The Fix is In.” – Why 7/10 Are Under-Assessed.
- 3/4/12 – Attorney Fardo to Speak at Seminar on Tax Exemptions.
- 2/8/12 – Did Outsourcing Cause Allegheny County Assessment Chaos?
- 2/8/12 – Allegheny County 2012 Reassessment Update.
- 1/24/12 – Assessment Deadline for City Extended – Others Waiting.
- 1/23/12 – Allegheny County New Assessment Website is a NIGHTMARE for Taxpayers.
- 1/13/12 – VIDEO: Reassessment Update: “Appeal Now, Pay Later”.
- 1/10/12 – Judge Overrules Fitzgerald – Orders 2012 Assessments to Continue
- 1/6/12 – “Scent of a Fitzgerald” : Allegheny County Assessments.
- 1/5/12 – ALERT: County Stops Informal Hearings.
- 1/5/12 – VIDEO: What is the difference between an ‘Informal Hearing’ vs. a ‘Formal Appeal Hearing’?
- 12/29/12 – VIDEO: Pittsburgh Deadline to Appeal Assessments: February 10, 2012.
- 12/29/11 – VIDEO: Pittsburgh Deadline to Appeal Assessments: February 10, 2012.
- 12/7/12 – Pittsburgh Set to Mail 2012 Assessments; County to Raise Millage Rates.
- 12/7/11 – Pittsburgh Set to Mail 2012 Assessments; County to Raise Millage Rates.
- 9/27/11 – Lack of County Leadership Has Caused Allegheny Assessment Mess.
- 9/18/11 – Allegheny Assessments Still a Mess – City of Pittsburgh First.
- 2012 Allegheny Assessments LATE – But Still On.
- 10.5 Million Property Assessment Reduction for Commercial Property in Allegheny County.
Read more Allegheny Assessment articles:
Table of Contents for Allegheny County Property Assessments:
- Allegheny Property Assessments Home Page
- Residential Property Tax Appeals
- Defending School District Appeals
- Commercial Property Tax Appeals
- Allegheny County Property Assessment FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions).
- The History of Property Assessments in Allegheny County.
- Our Tax Appeal Results & Testimonials.
What do your past clients have to say?
Thank you so much for your hard work on this property reassessment. I will definitely recommend your services to any of our friends in the Pittsburgh area! Jason
“Noah, Stef and I would like to thank you for the efforts you and your law firm put into our tax appeal. As you know we lost the appeal twice before and really pretty much had given up, that is until your law firm got involved. Not only did you and your team take on our case but you also handled everything without much involvement from us (I really appreciated when you stopped by my house to pick up needed paperwork, unbelievably awesome!!). Thank you for not only winning our appeal and saving us thousands of dollars but for doing so with professionalism, integrity and trust that is not always easy to find nowadays.” Brad B.
“Dear Attorney Fardo, Thank you for representing us for our reassessment hearings and getting us a favorable settlement! Throughout the appeal process, we found you and your staff (especially Nicole Hauptman and Kelsey Ramsdell) to be accessible, professional and on top of the issue. We would definitely seek your services in the future if the need arises and recommend you to others.” Manish.
Thanks Nicole. You all continue to amaze me with your quick response to a former client. Thanks again! Tom
Noah this is the best news that I’ve heard all year. I want to thank you again for a job well done, and to also let you know that I will use your services in the future for services that I may need. Happy New Year to you and your staff! Dick S.
Thank you for the excellent news – the results of your outstanding efforts. We are pleased with the decision and do not want to file an appeal. Regards and Happy New Year! V.K.
Thank you very much with for your assistance with our property assessment process. Appreciate your work! Kris G.
Needless to say, the results you achieved far exceeded my best hopes for a fair assessment. I just want to thank the firm for a job well done. RGS
Thank you Noah. That is great news, and thanks for your help. I couldn’t have done it without you! Natalie B.
Thank you so much. We are very happy with the result. You did a great job. We will definitely recommend you to all our friends and family. William S.