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Pennsylvania Property Tax Updates

UPDATED June 2020

Pennsylvania Taxpayers Uniquely Positioned to Argue Now for Value Reducations Based on COVID 19 Impact

Pennsylvania property owners who have been financially impacted by the pandemic should act now to evaluate and potentially request relief on their property taxes.

With respect to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, owners in Pennsylvania have an advantage over most other states because the date on which the market value for an appeal is based—known as the “effective date of value”—is earlier than in other states. In Pennsylvania, the effective date of value is:

  • For Allegheny County, PA – March 31, 2020
  • For Philadelphia County, PA – the first Monday in October (October 5, 2020)
  • For all other 65 PA Counties – Between August 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 (we recommend filing before August)

By comparison, in nearly every other state, the effective date of value is either January 1, 2020 (at which point, the impact of the pandemic was largely unknown in the market) or January 1, 2021 (at which point assessors will likely argue that the effect of the pandemic is already behind us).  Assessors in other states are already pushing back against requests for property assessment reductions based on arguments of what was known on those dates.

Thus, Pennsylvania property owners are uniquely positioned to use information about the effect of the pandemic to seek a reduction in property taxes.  For 65 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, the operative question in seeking to reduce your property taxes will be:  “What would someone pay for my property on August 1, 2020 based on what information was known in the market?”

Reducing your property taxes will require appealing your assessment; winning that appeal will require evidence of your property’s market value. Therefore, appraisals used to support assessment appeals filed in Pennsylvania this year should incorporate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Hotel operators in particular should evaluate the potential to reduce their property taxes this year. Even in a typical year, valuation of hotels presents a unique appraisal problem that requires a specialized appraisal expertise.  For this year, the expectation is that the impact of the current crisis will impair hotels’ real estate values in most cases.  Further, as market participants in some sectors are looking to the 2009 financial crisis as a point of reference, there seems to be general agreement that demand for hotel rooms will be slower to return this time around.  This unknown timeline increases the risk to potential investors, further driving down property values.   

Now is the time to start collecting the data and documents that will be necessary to evaluate your property’s assessment to see if there is an opportunity to reduce your real estate taxes.  Owners should gather three years of income and expense statements, a current balance sheet, and a recent monthly STAR Report. In addition, STAR Reports from 2018 and 2019 will be helpful to compare and estimate the impact of the pandemic on 2020 performance.

If you believe the value of your property may be diminished by the COVID-19 crisis, please contact us before July so that you can properly evaluate the opportunity to reduce your property taxes with adequate time to prepare a winning case.

To discuss the specifics of an appeal and the valuation of your property, please contact Siegel Jennings at:

Sharon F. DiPaolo, Esquire
Brendan Kelly, Esquire
Siegel Jennings, Co., L.P.A.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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