Proposed Constitutional Amendment to the Uniformity Clause: Balanced Reform or a Tax on the Poor?

On October 2, 2018, legislators introduced a bill to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution’s Uniformity Clause to allow for a different (likely higher) rate of taxation on commercial properties than is imposed on non-commercial properties. Read more here . . .

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The Great Philly Tax Hike of 2019: Part I

Philadelphia property owners are in for a tax hike effective for tax year 2019. No, not the 4.1% tax rate increase that is being proposed by the Mayor and currently under review by City Council—that increase will come on top of the backdoor tax hike resulting from upward revisions by the City's Office of Property Assessment to property assessments. . .

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Philly is a Special Snowflake: Anti-Windfall Provisions

Philadelphia County is the only county in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where the county government can generate unlimited tax increases from property reassessments, which are unchecked by any representative body, rather than by tax rate adjustments voted on by City Council.

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Assessment Appeals: No Rules...Umm, Alright?

Philadelphia County is like the Wild West (in a very tame, lawyerly sort of way). There is no local rule indicating how real estate tax assessment appeals should be captioned, how discovery should be conducted (if at all), whether motion practice is even allowed, or any other indication of how the appeal should be conducted.

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Consolidated Lawsuit Challenging Over $30 million in Real Estate Taxes Proceeds

On Friday, January 19, 2018, Judge Daniel Anders of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas overruled the City of Philadelphia's preliminary objections to an argument that seventy commercial and industrial property owners cannot challenge their real estate value reassessments for tax year 2018 in a consolidated action without exhausting their administrative remedies before the Board of Revision of Taxes.  These commercial property owners constitute a small portion of what the City represented were 65,000 commercial, industrial and institutional properties that were spot assessed for tax year 2018. Judge Anders also ruled that the property owners' complaint stated a valid claim under the Pennsylvania Constitution's Uniformity Clause.

Judge Anders noted that the recent Valley Forge Towers decision held that an assessment appeal board, like the BRT, does not have the authority to review an assessing authority's decision to reassess a property. Rather, assessment appeal boards are limited to determining the value of any given property and the appropriate ratio to apply to determine such property's assessed value. This limitation is reflected in both the General County Assessment Law and the First Class County Assessment Law, both of which govern assessment appeals in Philadelphia County.

Judge Anders's order can be found here and is docketed at Duffield House Assocs., L.P., et al. v. City of Philadelphia, Sept. Term 2017, No. 1536, or 170901536. In addition, the Valley Forge Towers decision can be found here



DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog is intended or should be construed to constitute legal advice, and readers should not rely on it to solve their individual legal issues. No opinion set forth is endorsed by any law firm and is the sole opinion of the author. For help with any present legal issue, please consult a licensed attorney and do not rely merely on anything set forth in this website.

Philadelphia Real Estate Tax Recent History: An Introduction

The biggest event in Philadelphia's recent real estate tax history is, of course, the 2014 Actual Value Initiative, otherwise known as AVI. Several years in the making, AVI was the product of a crisis over Philadelphia's broken assessment procedure that endangered tens of millions of dollars of tax revenue.

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