As you know from our prior alerts, the City of Philadelphia has initiated its Actual Valuation Initiative (AVI), which will be effective for tax year 2014– commencing on January 1st of that year. The purpose of the program is to adjust the market values for all properties in line with current market conditions. The properties will be assessed at 100% of their market value (rather than the traditional 32%) and the millage rate of .0134 will be applied to the market value to determine the actual tax.
Although the media has been reporting on various proposals to modify or eliminate the Real Estate Tax Abatement Programs, there is currently nothing changing the 10-year abatements for improvements to new and existing properties. It is important to note that the AVI Program does not, in and of itself, alter or change any of the abatement programs.
Property owners must have appeals filed with the Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT) of the City of Philadelphia by October 7th of this year in order to challenge their assessment for 2014. As in the past, we anticipate that the School District will cross appeal in every case filed by a property owner and argue that the assessment should be raised over and above that recently set by the assessor under AVI. This means that appeals must be strong in order to withstand scrutiny by the School District and its MAI appraisers. This aggressive approach by the School District has been reflected in its cross appeals and in appeals to the Court of Common Pleas where the BRT has reduced values originally established by the assessor.
We suggest that you immediately go to the website of the Office of Property Assessments (OPA) and look at your assessments. If you think your property is substantially over assessed, please contact us and we will walk you through the process for preparing and submitting an appeal to the BRT. In many cases, you will see that your market value/assessment has been increased but the reduced millage has resulted in very little change to your actual tax bill. The appeal form is easy to complete and your supporting appraisal need not be filed until much later in the process.
We undertake these engagements on a variety of fee structures (hourly rates, fixed fee, contingent fee) that vary depending upon the amount in controversy, the strength of the case, and the client’s preference.
If you have any questions or would like us to help you with your Philadelphia Real Estate tax appeal, please call Carl Primavera at 215-569-1663 or Jeffrey Spann at 215-569-4287. When you contact us, please have the address and your estimated value available for our discussion.