Multiple counties throughout Pennsylvania are conducting county-wide real property tax reassessment projects in 2015, including Washington, Indiana, Lancaster and Blair counties. Information requests are also being mailed out to property owners.
Here are some details for each county.
Washington County The county-wide reassessment is underway and is expected to conclude by the end of calendar year 2015. The county is scheduled to mail all reassessment notices by February 2016, effective for tax year 2017.
The formal deadline for appealing Washington County reassessment notices is September 1, 2016, their usual annual deadline. Washington County is also providing property owners an opportunity to informally appeal their reassessments during the period of March 2016 through April 2016. We will advise clients accordingly should these dates change.
Indiana County The reassessment project is nearly complete, with the county setting a July 2015 deadline for mailing all reassessment notices effective for tax year 2016.
The deadline for appealing reassessment determinations is 40 days from the date of the notice, not the usual appeal deadline of August 1. However, prior to filing a formal appeal, property owners may request an informal review to ask questions about their reassessed property values, verify information, and present facts about their property that may affect the value. Property owners will be notified about how to utilize the informal administrative review process. This process will not toll the 40-day appeal period, and a formal appeal must still be filed.
Lancaster County The reassessment project is expected to conclude by the end of 2015. The first of two notices to property owners are to be mailed by the county during March 2016. Upon receipt of this first notice, property owners may participate in an informal appeal process that will be conducted from March 2016 through June 2016.
In June 2016, Lancaster County will be mailing its second and final notice to property owners. The formal appeal deadline for appealing the final notice of reassessment determinations is 40 days from the date of the notice and not the usual appeal deadline of August 1.
Blair County The reassessment project is nearly complete, and the county indicated that it will mail all reassessment notices by July 1, 2016, effective for tax year 2017.
The deadline for appealing reassessment determinations is 40 days from the date of the notice and not the usual annual appeal deadline of September 1. As with Indiana County, property owners will be provided the opportunity to participate in an informal review of their reassessment values, with information regarding that process to be provided by the county.
In conjunction with completing a county-wide reassessment, many counties retain the services of mass reappraisal companies to aid in the collection of data from property owners. For example, Indiana County and Blair County are utilizing Evaluator Services and Technology, Inc., while Washington County’s data collection is being handled by Tyler Technologies. In the course of performing their data collection, these third parties issue mailers to real property owners seeking additional information. Most recently, Washington County circulated a mailer to all commercial property owners titled “2015 Annual Income and Expense Report.” Among other things, the mailer requests income and expense information and rent schedules for Tax Years 2013 and 2014.
Generally, we recommend against providing the requested information, as your response is completely voluntary and most of the requested information is private and confidential. Despite the fact that such mailers typically state that any information provided will be kept “strictly confidential and completely private,” we are not aware of any law clearly supporting that statement. Therefore, the possibility remains that once divulged, this information will become part of the public record. Moreover, your property information will not be used solely for your property assessment, but will also be used as foundational information for the mass appraisal process.
We will continue to keep clients apprised of reassessment projects throughout the state as information becomes available.