Five Ways to Reduce Your Property Taxes
There are at least five potential ways to reduce your property tax burden including: filing an annual or interim property tax appeal, claiming a homestead exclusion, filing for Act 319 (Clean & Green) reduction, a reduction based on low income, and a reduction for disabled veterans.
Annual and Interim Appeals
Each county provides property owners the opportunity to file an annual appeal (usually May 1st to August 1st) to challenge the assessed value of their property. The burden of proving that the current fair market value for your property is below the assessed value is on the property owner. First, the property owner must understand how their assessment relates to the current fair market value via the Common Level Ratio. That is, your assessment does not usually equate to your current fair market value. We can help you with this calculation and appeal analysis.
If you purchase new construction or undergo a major home remodel/addition, then the County will provide you with an Assessment Change Notice (usually increasing your assessment). When you receive your Assessment Change Notice, you will have 40 days to file an interim appeal to challenge the new increased assessment. Interim appeals are typically retroactive back to the date of the Change Notice.
Filing an annual appeal and an interim appeal are common forms of reducing your property tax burden. However, each appeal requires careful consideration of the Common Level Ratio to ensure that you will not raise your assessment by filing an assessment appeal.
The Homeowner Tax Relief Act of 2004 provided Pennsylvania property owners with another mechanism at their disposal to potentially lower their property tax burden. If your property is used as a personal residence, you are likely eligible to receive an assessment reduction called the Homestead Exclusion. The reduction that you receive based on the Homestead Exclusion will vary from year to year depending on the amount of money funded into the tax savings program. The Homestead Exclusion will supplement any other reduction you receive, for example, via an annual property assessment appeal.
In most cases, your school district will mail you an application for Homestead Exclusion several months prior to the March 1st deadline. There is no cost to file the application. If you do not receive an application, I recommend that you call your local school district office or your County Board of Assessment Appeals. Many property owners receive a $200-300 annual property tax reduction via the Homestead Exclusion.
Act 319 (Clean & Green)
Pennsylvania Act 319 (also known as Clean & Green) provides preferential assessment by reducing the assessment on the land value of property. In exchange for a reduced land assessment, the property owner agrees to restrictions on developing or dividing the land. Properties that are 10 acres or more in size are eligible for preferential assessment under the Pennsylvania Act 319 (Clean & Green). Even if you don’t have a single parcel that is 10 acres, you can combine adjacent properties that are greater than 10 acres when combined. While most counties require 10 acres, at least one county (Montgomery) is known to require 11 acres. Additionally, properties that are less than 10 acres (or 11 acres in Montgomery County) but generate at least $2,000 in annual gross income from agricultural commodities may also be considered for preferential assessment.
Reduction for Very Low Income and Disabled Veterans
For those with very low income and/or are disabled veterans may also qualify for reductions in property taxes. The rules for these reductions are strict and are rarely implemented. If you would like to discuss a potential reduction for very low income and/or disabled veterans, please contact my office.