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threwthelookinggrass t1_j9q9x2c wrote

It’s insane that a person can buy a house in like 1970, do bare minimum maintenance, sell it for an exorbitant profit today largely driven by location and lack of supply, and have the new owner take on not only all the deferred maintenance but also a higher tax bill while the property is still hot garbage.


hypotenoos t1_j9ry99d wrote

In California you can lock in your property taxes in perpetuity or even transfer them to another property. It’s ridiculous.


alexp8771 t1_j9u3fxi wrote

That is because the well maintained properties are going for far more.


chuckie512 t1_j9qrpbu wrote

The county is going to get it's money. The outstanding question on assessments is just who's going to pay it.

This isn't a government vs homeowners situation, it's long-term vs recent homeowners.


hypotenoos t1_j9quuzv wrote

The only fair way is to do regular reassessments but they tried that already and everyone lost their shit in the 00’s.

A serious, reliable County-wide reassessment will cost millions and take some time. No one has the political will to pay for it, conduct it and then deal with the aftermath.

Butler hasn’t reassessed since 1969 and only the lack of a complaint from someone with deep pockets to pay for the lawsuit has kept them out of court. They don’t get into the shenanigans with new buyers though either. Most of the battles take place over yearly challenges from big retail and industrial properties.

Meanwhile Beaver is facing the reality of a county wide, court ordered reassessment due to a lawsuit.


Vozegro t1_j9td9w0 wrote

Yeah I think it’s funny when people get upset they have to pay taxes they should owe. Funny when they think the government should provide them so much as long as they don’t have to pay for it.


hypotenoos t1_j9thwdl wrote

There is no escaping the property taxes, but I do think it’s wrong to unequally apply those taxes.

The “newcomer tax” is unfair because it’s not uniformly applied and even moreso due to the manipulation of the common level ratio to shift the tax burden to newer owners or newer homes.


murphey_griffon t1_j9uzkii wrote

Had I known about this when moving from out of state, I wouldn't have bought a house in Allegheny county. We got immediately hit by the school for a 36% increase in the house estimate despite all of our neighbors having very similar houses remaining the same just because we bought a house... When we tried to fight it they basically laughed at us. The school districts have layers on payroll just for this. Imagine how much we are paying just for these layers because of an unfair system.


As a side note, anyone have a recommendation of a layer I could contact to send in an appeal on the east side of town? I don't mind paying the tax, but I do mind that a neighbors house that is bigger costs $1400 less a year because they bought it before me.


burritoace t1_j9qhc90 wrote

Weird framing on the headline. The current assessment system favors owners already, it just favors long-term owners much more than new owners.


AnewENTity t1_j9ql2mo wrote

It favors the county doing no work and pushing the burden away from older folks (mostly) and on to younger.

A good bit of never fixing this issue has been due to Rich Fitzgerald knowing If he raised taxes on old folks they’d vote him out.


burritoace t1_j9qvwe7 wrote

Unfortunately he's such a shitty leader that he couldn't even be bothered to fix this once he had no more elections to worry about


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9qp2zu wrote

And landlords that buy a dump, renovate, charge high rent and never sell. They will only pay taxes on the original sale price when it was a dump


rmetcalf1230 t1_j9rx1tt wrote

Some call that “the playbook”


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9rxspg wrote

Another cool trick is real estate developers use ground leases and creative corporate structures to avoid transfer taxes


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9qpekf wrote

how can they call a system that is fair as favoring homeowners over the government that serves us. WESA is all over the place with their articles


tesla3by3 t1_j9rgd1x wrote

If they had used the term “assessment appeals” it would be accurate.


Vast-Support-1466 t1_j9ry6oy wrote

Irresponsible framing- these decisions were made back in September, so the headline is a bit click-baity. Bad WESA.


Aggressive-Mud6856 t1_j9sg9x4 wrote

I have 3 issues with most of the reporting on this lawsuit.

It doesn't discuss the core issue at hand: properties that do not get sold do not see their assessment change for years. I've owned my house for 20 years and my assessed value went up once, a very small amount. It is less than 1/2 the market value of my house. Until this situation is rectified in some way, this will continue. And nobody wants to vote for that, as no-one wants to see their taxes go up.

It doesn't describe the windfall that the attorneys who brought this lawsuit will see. As this article points out, it is expected that many homeowners will file appeals. Since many homeowners erroneously believe that they need an attorney to file appeals (they don't), there's going to be a lot of work for attorneys that specialize in this area. Those who brought this suit are going to be able to crow about it to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars (at least).

Most of the reporting gleefully paints the county, especially the groups involved in real estate and property assessment, as moustache-twirling cartoon villains, even though the county generally gets the least amount of revenue from an individual's property tax. This offends me as I have several friends that work in these departments. Generally speaking, they are just like everybody else - keeping their heads down, doing the best job they can in the situation, and trying to follow the often non-sensical rules handed down by their superiors. And many of them work in poor environments (have you been in the county office building lately?), work long hours, deal with angry people, and get paid, well, shitty. They don't deserve the name-calling and vitriol that has come out of the court, the attorneys, and the news.

In summary, it's a bad system that won't change until we, the voters, allow it to change. A previous commenter said that Fitzgerald wouldn't change anything because he was afraid the "old people" would vote him out of office. It's not just the old people. It's all of us. Very few people (likely including me) are going to vote for their taxes to go up every year or two (as a re-assessment every year would likely do) just so a new neighbor doesn't get screwed. We put ourselves into this situation, and it's only thru the power of the voting process that we can get out of it.


burritoace t1_j9tb3io wrote

Good write up, although it should be noted that regular assessments do not necessarily mean regular increases. Adjustments must generally be revenue neutral so millage rates could adjust to keep changes minor. Also, the current system doesn't really allow for taxes to fall in places where values decline - regular assessments would allow that.

I expect any substantial change would also come with an expanded homestead exemption, which I think would be appropriate.


enemy_of_your_enema t1_j9ut41w wrote

>And nobody wants to vote for that, as no-one wants to see their taxes go up.

I think people could vote for this if we knew it meant we'd get specific improvements in schools/public services as a result. That's exactly how the parks tax got passed a couple years ago.


Aggressive-Mud6856 t1_j9v7bgt wrote

I agree with you in principle. However, I think it's tough given the historical nature that we approach taxes with to be able to set aside buckets for certain improvements. If we were like other states that had specific ballot initiatives to vote on and people actually did then I think that would work. The issue, as I find it in my community is that many people would vote against any form of tax increase for schools based off of either political considerations or simply because they feel that if they don't have kids in the schools, they shouldn't have to pay any property tax.

Personally, I would much rather go to a tax initiative system as opposed to a general tax but that's not what we've done historically and would require a fairly significant mental change. But that's just my opinion.

Sorry for the rambling sentences, I'm using text to speech and it doesn't pick up that it should put a comma in 😉


jetsetninjacat t1_j9rivzs wrote

Maybe someone can explain this better to me. My house value assessment went down 14k for 2023 according to the county assessment site. But my taxes for 2023 are the same as before. Am I missing a step here?


McJumpington t1_j9sa3mv wrote

Where are you seeing that your house is assessed at a lower level now? Zillow doesn’t count


jetsetninjacat t1_j9t25zc wrote

The county assessment site. I'm just going to call the county offices starting monday.


YIMBYYay t1_j9r4acl wrote

At this point it has become a state issue, which I’m sure they will ignore. You either require regular assessments to avoid the newcomers tax, or find other revenue streams. A land value tax would take care of this, but that will never happen.


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9rxbou wrote

Or they could just use a good inflation adjuster instead of using biased data that caused them to lose the lawsuit


Kered13 t1_j9rr8j3 wrote

If a home sold for $X it should automatically be reassessed at $X. Not a penny more or a penny less. I don't understand why it doesn't work this way, it's just obvious. Property taxes are based on the market value, and you have just established an exact market value. Obviously reassessments still need to take place and that's still a thorny issue, but if a house has just sold it seems open and shut.


hypotenoos t1_j9rvt84 wrote

Every sale doesn’t qualify as “fair market value”


Kered13 t1_j9s0vmv wrote

Any open market sale should be close enough. I mean obviously if you sell it to your friend or family member for $1 that shouldn't count.


hypotenoos t1_j9s1de5 wrote

But what if you sell it to them for $150k but it’s “really” worth $180k?

Gifts of equity and seller concessions happen all over the place.

Penny more, penny less becomes less of a good standard real quick.


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9rx0qv wrote

Houses that haven’t sold for decades are hard to assess and recent sales end up paying a lot higher taxes than older sales. The county is supposed to adjust for inflation but they lost a lawsuit bc they were using biased data to calculate inflation


Kered13 t1_j9s195l wrote

Right, like I said reassessments do need to happen and that is a tricky issue. But houses that have just sold should be easy to assess.


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9s2lrk wrote

Both should be reassessed at the same time otherwise the system is unequal unless adjusted for inflation properly


McJumpington t1_j9sbf6w wrote

This ignores housing bubbles though. Also seller prices prices typically increase when there are lower interest rates as their are typically more bidders. Some end up bidding over what the house is worth as a means to have the winning offer.

Both of these situations are unfair to buyers who may end up seeing drastically lower assessments on surrounding properties just months later.


SWPenn t1_j9rkx50 wrote

I know Maryland and some other states have a system that is uniform statewide for all counties. Any chance the state legislature in PA might take up the issue?


PorkyWallace t1_j9s6ktz wrote

Why doesn't PA require that the schools get a certain base of funding from their districts and that any additional funds have to be part of individual levys? In West Virginia and Ohio, schools have a different funding mechanism. One of these is Levys, which cover certain types of spending and must be voted on for renewal every five years of they expire and cannot be made up out of other revenue.


PGHxplant t1_j9r4g5j wrote

Closed in March 2020. My reassessment in '21 was fundamentally fair. Can we friggin' stop talking about this as exclusively an assessment issue?!? Until a few good candidates can also successfully communicate and explain the absurdity of our millage rates we're going to be eternally stuck in this crap. There IS a way to fairly fund our schools.


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9rwhgz wrote

Just because it didn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it didn’t happen to other people


PGHxplant t1_j9rz7mq wrote

Sorry, what’s your point? I absolutely got a huge but fair reassessment. But if fair tax rates were combined with regular reassessments of all property owners we wouldn’t have this atrociously unfair system.


ktxhopem3276 t1_j9s3cqj wrote

Your assessment wasn’t fair because the county used a biased inflation adjustment and that’s why they lost the lawsuit over assessments recently. The high millage rate is not really relevant to this issue and the lawsuit. There are plenty of other conversations about the high millage rates and the state lost a recent lawsuit about school funding so that might change in the future. What do you think is a fair way to fund schools?


tesla3by3 t1_j9s5wuv wrote

I’m glad you think yours was fair. But if you’re paying taxes based on the actual sales price (times the CLR), then the taxes you’re paying are correct but probably not fair. The reason being the fair market value is probably the price you paid. For homes that haven’t sold recently, the county uses a 2012 actual assessment. If your house was reassessed due to the sale, the county reduced the assessment by about 80 percent to attempt to calculate what the home would have been worth in 2012.

The courts recently determined the 80% number was not accurate, due to the county using cherry picked data as the basis for the calculation.
The real number should have been 63%.

Assuming your assessment is about 80% of what you paid for the house, you may save 20% by filling an appeal. That would probably put you close to paying your fair share. I’d contact one of the attorneys that probably sent you a mailing when you bought.

And as far as far as fairly funding schools,my take is the resources available to educate a child should not be dependent on the value of his neighbors home


burritoace t1_j9tbel5 wrote

It's all abstract which is part of the problem. The 80% is probably too high in some areas and way too low in others. A county-wide CLR doesn't accurately represent the situation and still leaves winners and losers.


tesla3by3 t1_j9thptx wrote

Oh I agree 100%. There should be a full reassessment every4-5 years, with an interim update every year based on comparable sales in areas where enough sales occurred. If not enough sales occurred, use a more neighborhood specific version of a CLR

This would even out the burden, and negatively impact long time home owners in areas where values are rising.

So along with this would have to be some changes to the homestead exemption. Maybe increase the reduction based on years you have owned and occupied the home.


hypotenoos t1_j9ry2sj wrote

It’s not equal taxation though based on how they screw with the common level ratio