Real Estate Taxes

Timothy A. Berger

In Pennsylvania, the real estate tax is used to raise revenue for counties, school districts and municipalities.  The amount of the tax that you pay is based on the assessed value of your property.  However, in many counties, reassessments are not regularly performed.  As a result, as property values rise and fall, the assessed value may no longer reflect the fair market value.

In many instances, older properties may be underassessed (i.e., paying less taxes than if their assessment actually reflected the fair market value of the property).  However, it is also common -- particularly given the present drop in housing prices -- for properties to be overassessed, resulting in a higher tax bill.

In many instances, filing a tax appeal may result in tax savings; however, because an appeal could result in an increased assessment for properties that are underassessed, the decision to file a tax appeal should be made carefully. 

Note that in Delaware and Chester Counties, the deadline for filing a tax appeal for the following year is August 1; it is thus too late to file an appeal of the 2011 taxes unless you have received an interim assessment notice or unless you have suffered a catastrophic loss. (A fire or a tree falling into your house that causes significant damage may qualify as a catastrophic loss).

An appeal of the 2012 real estate taxes must be filed by August 1, 2011. Delaware County will not accept the 2011 tax appeal until on or after March 15, 2010.

If your property is located in Delaware County and the present assessed value is greater than approximately 65% of the property's value, you may be over assessed and paying too much in taxes.  For Chester and Montgomery Counties, the assessed value should be approximately 56%, while in Bucks County it should be approximately 11%.

If you wish to discuss a possible tax appeal, please contact me at 610-565-4750 or by Email.