The last time property was reassessed in Indiana County, Pennsylvania was 1968. So the new valuation notices being issued this month (July) may come as quite a shock to some taxpayers.
Property values have appreciated at different rates throughout the county. This change in the market has created a lack of uniformity, resulting in some owners paying more -- or less than their proportionate share of the tax burden.
Important Dates for Appeals
Property owners have 40 days from the mailing date of the notice to schedule an appointment for an informal administrative review. There is also a 40-day deadline to file a formal appeal. This is different from the typical August 1 appeal deadline. If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Board of Assessment, you have to right to appeal your assessment to the Court of Common Pleas.
An appeal opens the property assessment for re-evaluation. As a result of an appeal, the assessment may be lowered, raised, or stay the same.
Taxes Won't Automatically Increase
Many people mistakenly believe that if their property's fair market value increases, then their tax bill will increase by the same proportion. This won't happen because all taxing districts are required by state law to lower their tax millage by the same ratio that the tax base increases.
Based on typical reassessment patterns, about one-third of the tax base will see an increase in their tax bills, one-third will stay the same, and one-third will pay less. A change to an individual's property taxes depends on whether the increase in the 1968 value to a January 1, 2015 market value is more or less than the average value increase, relative to other properties within the taxing district.
Tax Jurisdictions Won't Get a Windfall
Pennsylvania state law requires taxing authorities to establish an initial tax rate in the year following the reassessment that produces the same total revenue as the levy for the preceding year.
After the equalized millage is set, a taxing body may adopt a higher final tax rate. However, the increase is limited in the year following the reassessment. The statutory limit for counties, townships, and boroughs is 10%. The statutory limit for school districts is set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education every year and is limited to an index, which is generally about 2%.