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Why 2010 is ripe for Allegheny County Assessment Appeals.

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(Why you may suffer if you don’t appeal.)

The deadline to file a 2010 Allegheny assessment appeal is March 31, 2010. People really haven’t spoken too much lately about filing new property tax appeals. But this year (2010) is ripe and may be necessary to appeal.

Here’s why:

1. The Allegheny County Assessment system is a wreck! Almost every case could be a case. The reason is because the county is using two different opposite systems to decide the appeals, … and the owner can pick. Follow me here:

Option #1: You want to use the 2002 base year value.

Home sold 2002: $300,000

2010 Assessment: $400,000

Home also sold 2009: $400,000

Expected Result: $300,000 (what you paid in 2002) (base year value)

You can file a 2010 appeal using the 2002 base year value to say your home was only worth $300,000 in 2002 and thus your property taxes would be reduced. You should file a 2010 appeal if your property was worth less in 2002 than your current assessment.


Option #2: You want to use the 2010 base year value.

Home sold 2002: $400,000

2010 Assessment: $400,000

Home also sold 2009: $300,000

Expected result: $300,000

You can file a 2010 appeal using the 2010 base year value to say their home is only worth $300,000 now, since this is the price you paid in 2010. You should file a 2010 appeal if your property is worth less now in 2010 than your current assessment.

Do you understand how ridiculous this is? How can two neighbors argue their appeal at the same time and be allowed to use two different standards (2002 or 2010, whichever is better for them?)

The system is ripe for appeals, because you can pick the best system to get a reduction.


The second reason you may want to consider filing a 2010 appeal is because the 2012 reassessments are coming. This is going to mean significant property tax increases for many properties in Allegheny County.

In 2005, when the county was looking at releasing the proposed previous assessments, areas like Sewickley, Edgeworth, Mt. Lebanon, Fox Chapel, Sewickley Heights, and Upper St. Clair were looking at increases in their assessments of 35% to 45%. That is enormous. That’s an additional $4500 tax bill for a home assessed at $300,000.

If you can reduce your property taxes now, either using the base year system or the current system, and if you are then raised substantially in the 2012 reassessment, then I believe a favorable reduction now may be used as an additional basis for appeal later.

By not filing an appeal in 2010, property owners could lost the ability to make this argument.

It costs nothing to appeal. We review all cases for free. We often take cases on a strict contingency and only are paid after we receive the tax refund checks. There is no reason not to allow us to review your case.

About Noah Paul Fardo

Noah Paul Fardo, Esq. is a Pennsylvania trial lawyer and the managing partner of Flaherty Fardo, LLC. His legal practice focuses in medical malpractice, personal injury, business litigation, and property tax appeals. You can find him on Google+.

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