State Task Force Working To Change Pa.'s Property Assessment Rules In 2017

Jan 3, 2017

 

Credit Emily Previti / WITF

Some counties in Pennsylvania go without updating their property values for decades, far longer than the six-year maximum wait recommended by the International Association of Assessing Officers.

Almost everywhere else, revaluation is either handled at the state level or required at a set interval by state law, according to IAAO surveys.

So Pennsylvania's become known for having the least regulated — and most antiquated — property assessment system in the country.

This dubious distinction among policy wonks also has tangible impacts.

Revaluation can be expensive. But the longer governments wait, the higher the costs — and not only for the process itself.

Some property owners end up paying more taxes than they really should, for example, and many go to court to fix it — adding legal defense fees to the millions of taxpayer dollars revaluations required even in counties with a relatively small number properties.

Schools and county and local governments, meanwhile, often are left with an inaccurately assessed tax base. This can prevent them from capturing revenue for road repairs, education, police and fire services and other community needs.

The state's Reassessment Reform Task Force has been trying to improve the situation.

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Keystone Crossroads is a statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station.