I have handled more than 1,000 property assessment cases during my time here. Allegheny County went through a reassessment that went into effect in 2013. Now the base year is January 1, 2012. A lot of people will call and say "I just bought my property, what is going on?". A lot of times the school district or municipality will appeal them and they don't really know how to move forward. Or conversely, they say my house is not worth this much. They will call me. You have the first three months of every tax year to file an appeal. Those are the times that I personally sit down and go through the information with them on the phone, or by email, or in person. We sit down and go through a potential appeal or defense case.
A lot of people call me because they have received an appeal notice from either their local municipality or school district. They do not really understand what it is, and they do not really know the process. At that point I always think it is very important to at least speak with an attorney, and probably hire an attorney. The attorneys that work for these governmental entities have tons of experience in raising your property taxes. You need an experienced attorney that knows how to research the comparable sales, knows the details of your purchase, knows how the system entirely works. That is the time you need to get an attorney involved to make sure that your taxes aren't unfair.
What a lot of property owners don't know is that there is actually a two-tiered appeal system in Allegheny County. So any commercial or residential property owners need to know that they have two chances essentially to appeal a decision. At the first level, you get a decision in the mail. It says on that decision, "this decision is final". That is not true. You actually have thirty days to appeal that decision to the Board of Viewers. That is a division of the Court of Common Pleas, so that is a more formal hearing. It is very important to hire an attorney or at least speak to one about these property assessment issues because we know the process and we know how everything works.