The Big Lie in Allegheny County!

The Big Lie

Opponents of the Court-ordered property tax reassessment in Allegheny County allege that Allegheny is being treated unfairly because other surrounding counties use the base year system and are not forced to reassess, putting Allegheny at a commercial and competitive disadvantage. That is an inaccurate and untrue statement. Remember that the suit to force reassessment was brought by taxpayers who were forced to pay taxes on property that was artificially valued higher than the actual value due to Allegheny’s base year system.

Even though Allegheny has become a home rule County, it has not seceded from Pennsylvania, and must still comply with the assessment laws of the state. The state law for a property tax appeal hearing before the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) requires that at a tax appeal hearing, the BAR must establish the current market value for the tax year when the appeal is filed, and apply the proper ratio to determine the assessed value. This is how the other counties using a base year assessment, rule on a property tax appeal in Pennsylvania. In contrast, Allegheny appeal rules required that the taxpayer must submit evidence to prove a 2002 market value, which was the last year a reassessment was completed, ergo “base year.”  That Allegheny County rule prevented taxpayers whose property had depreciated in value from being assessed based on current market value and in violation of the uniformity clause of the PA Constitution.

So contrary to the Big Lie, Allegheny was not obeying the PA state statute like all the rest of the surrounding counties and the Supreme Court of PA ruled that they should. Because so many Allegheny County tax assessment appeals had been handled improperly and unconstitutionally over the past few years, the Court decided the only way to be fair to all Allegheny taxpayers was to do a reassessment and start over.


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