Topic: Property Tax
In Pennsylvania, real estate taxes are based on the assessed value of your property. Often, the assessed value is less than the actual (fair market value) of the property, by a ratio that is applied county-wide.
People typically expect the value of their property to appreciate; if it has increased, the property may be underassessed. (However, you should assume that you are underassessed – if the value of your property has appreciated more slowly than the county in general, you may be overassessed. Similarly, if you are in an area of the county in which property values have not increased, or have decreased, you may be overassessed).
However, there are times that the value of a property can abruptly and dramatically decrease – specifically, when a property suffers a catastrophic loss. For example, if you own a home, and your house catches fire or if a tree falls onto your house, and there is significant damage, the value of your property dramatically diminishes. When this occurs, you may be able to file an assessment appeal for a catastrophic loss.
Under the statute, the catastrophic loss must have resulted in damage that is 50% or more or the value of the property prior to the loss, which can be established by appraisals, repair estimates or a combination thereof. If the assessment appeal is granted, you will either receive a credit against the following year’s taxes or, upon application to the different taxing authorities, a refund when the taxing authorities issue their bills for the following year.
The assessment appeal typically must be filed within six months of the loss.
If you have questions regarding a catastrophic loss, assessment appeals in general or other real estate matters, click here for contact information for Timothy A. Berger, Esquire.
Under Pennsylvania law, if a property suffers a catastrophic loss of 50% or more of its value, an assessment appeal can be filed for the catastrophic loss that will result in a real estate tax credit or, upon application, a refund.