Overassessed homeowners should pay taxes under protest

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New homebuyers have received appeal notices from taxing bodies and their hearings are underway. Taxing bodies have the right to appeal properties that are underassessed and, unlike other surrounding counties, win many appeals without submitting appraisals.

In other words, a new sale price is market value. Period. The question is: Can a homeowner sell the home a few months later now that the taxes may have doubled?

New homeowners who have their taxes jacked up by the county appeals board can fight back and appeal to Common Pleas Court. Here’s another reason to file a second appeal: It allows a property owner to pay the property taxes under protest under Act 71 of 2005.

Upon being notified of an assessment increase, a taxpayer can appeal to the courts while notifying, in writing, the three taxing bodies to which he or she is paying the taxes under protest — the municipality, school district and county.

A taxpayer must pay all taxes due, but each taxing body must escrow 25 percent of the amount until the appeal is resolved. In some cases, this could take as long as two years. The law allows taxing bodies to go to court in an attempt to get the money, but we’ll see if that happens.

It’s important to note that the county is in charge of tax assessments but also benefits from assessment increases approved by the county appeals board. A taxpayer should consult with an attorney. Until county officials can fix this problem, taxpayers must fight back by paying increases under protest.

MICHAEL J. SULEY

Assessment Consultant

Mt. Lebanon

The writer is former manager of Allegheny County’s Office of Property Assessments and a former member of the county’s Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review.


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