Real Estate Tax Assessment Attorney for Delaware County
Pennsylvania Property Tax Basics
Property tax laws can be confusing for people who aren’t frequently working with it. A reassessment of this nature can be even more so. Here is a short overview of the basics of real estate tax.
How Property Taxes are Calculated
The county assesses the value of your property based on condition, improvements, and the market value of similar properties in your area. This goes on for every taxable property in the county. Churches, educational institutions, hospitals, and charities are usually exempt from paying property taxes. Residences and commercial properties, however, must be assessed. Once the County knows the cumulative value of the property in your county, they compare it to their financial obligations and budget and determine the millage rate. The millage rate is then multiplied by the assessed value of your property, which gives you your tax bill.
For example, if you owned a piece of property with a $5,000,000 assessed value and your millage rate was .001 (.1%) your tax bill would be calculated as follows:
$5,000,000 X .001 = $500,000
As you can see, if the assessed value is off, it can significantly affect your tax bill.
What the Countywide Reassessment Means
Not all property values increase or decrease proportionately. Over a 20-year period, the value of Property A could double while the value of Property B only goes up by 50%. In this case, with all other things being equal, Property A’s tax bill should be higher. Because it has been so long since Delaware County performed an assessment, it’s impossible to know how much appreciation or depreciation each property experienced, which is why they’re being court-ordered to start from scratch.
This is also why your property may have appreciated in value over the years, but you could still share a smaller portion of the tax burden.
How Hoegen & Associates Can Help With Your Delco Tax Bill
The millage rate for Delaware County can’t be determined until the property tax assessment is completed, but you may be due compensation. If your assessed value is reduced, or once you get your tax bill, you notice a decrease in the amount you owe, you may have been overtaxed for years. At Hoegen & Associates, we hold counties accountable for overtaxing property owners. And our history of successful cases demonstrates that:
- We were able to get a $2,226,000 reduction on a property that had been assessed at $5,040,000 resulting in $1,000,000 tax savings over a four-year period.
- Our firm appealed a case involving a property with an implied market value in excess of $19,000,000. We convinced the court to set the market value at $8,105,832, which resulted in almost $400,000 in tax savings over two years.
- In a case involving a large manufacturer, we were able to get the assessed value of the property reduced from $65,000,000 to $25,000,000 resulting in $667,864 in annual tax savings.
- In the case of R & F Baltimore Pike, LP v. Delaware County, we were able to get the 2018 and 2019 assessed values reduced from $3,498,625 and $3,679,277 (respectively) to $2,350,000 for both years.
Our legal battles have saved our clients millions of dollars. See additional cases here.
What if my new assessed value is much higher?
In all likelihood, your property value hasn’t increased as rapidly as the assessed value that Delaware County assigned to it. Additionally, with the downward market pressures from the CoViD-19 pandemic, it’s very unlikely that you would have an increased tax bill. The good news is that under Pennsylvania law, your tax bill cannot be increased by more than 10% per annum. So, in the unlikely event that you have a higher bill after the reassessment, it will be capped.
Services A Real Estate Tax Assessment Lawyer Can Offer
At the real estate tax assessment law firm of Hoegen & Associates, P.C., we hold municipalities accountable for their tax bills. Here are some of the approaches that we can take to contest a tax bill.
Request a New Property Assessment
Like an appraisal, property assessments attempt to estimate the market value of your property. If you’ve had a property appraisal, you know the amount of detail that goes into an appraisal report. Because the county has to assess all properties, there is generally not nearly as much precision. In other words, county property appraisers make mistakes — or in the unique situation that exists in Delaware County, the government simply didn’t perform an assessment in two decades. One of the ways that a real estate tax assessment attorney can contest your tax bill, is by requesting a reassessment. These are some of the indications that a tax reassessment is indicated:
- Property values have declined since the assessment. Market forces may drive down an assessed value.
- Other similar properties in your area have a lower assessed value.
- Similar properties in your area have sold for lower amounts.
- Other properties with similar assessed values have improvements that yours doesn’t.
- You’ve had an appraisal that indicates your property value is lower than the assessed value.
- You’ve sustained damage to your property, such as an accident, natural disaster, or fire, that diminishes your property value.
- The area around your property has changed in a way that would negatively affect your property’s value. This could be the construction of a highway, power lines running through your property, et cetera.
- Your property has declined in value due to neglect.
An attorney can help you cut through the red tape and help you get a reassessment. If the reassessment is approved, your attorney can meet the assessor to give them access to the property and accompany them while they evaluate it.
Real Estate Tax Assessment FAQ
As Delaware County real estate assessment attorneys, we have a fair amount of exposure to the concerns and questions of clients. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers to the questions we hear on a weekly basis.
What is the process for getting my property reassessed?
Delaware County is currently going through a court-mandated property reassessment. The county recently closed the process for informal appeals, but you can still appeal formally. The county is sending all property owners notices. They began going out on July 1. Appeals in other counties are usually performed on an individual basis based on the county’s rules.
What can a real estate tax assessment attorney do for me?
Your property taxes may be too high and a real estate assessment lawyer can help with that. A real estate assessment attorney can determine whether your property was properly assessed or whether circumstances have changed and it should be reduced. They can represent you through all phases of the process.
Is it easier to contest the assessed value of my property or the millage rate?
You cannot contest the millage rate since it is a fixed number assigned to a collective group of properties within the county. The issue is usually with the assessment value of the property. A reassessment orchestrated by a real estate tax assessment attorney can provide you with the answers that you’re looking for.
How much does it cost to appeal my property assessment?
Delaware County is undergoing a court-mandated reassessment process. Property owners should not be charged for this. Appeals are also cost-free in most counties.
Why was Delaware County ordered to reassess all properties by the courts?
In 2017, after noticing a substantial discrepancy in property values, a couple filed a lawsuit with the city via a Delaware County tax assessment lawyer. Delaware County hadn’t assessed property values in 20 years, and a report found that only 30 percent of the 200,000 properties were properly assessed based on market value. The county is now in the process of a multi-year mass appraisal that should affect a substantial portion of assessed values. If your assessed value comes in lower than the previous one, you may be entitled to a refund.
Your Delaware County Property Tax Appeal Lawyer
If you live in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to a lower tax bill and a tax refund. As Delaware County’s premier property tax assessment appeals attorneys, the law firm of Hoeger & Associates, P.C. can represent you in your pursuit of compensation. If you’re a property owner of Delaware County, we want to hear from you. Contact us today.