If you own property in Delaware County PA, you may be able to challenge the County’s new property assessments. This could mean saving big on taxes in the future.
Update: 7/13/20: Pursuant to an emergency order of the Delaware County Court it Common Pleas, the new due date for all assessment appeals has been moved to September 1st, 2020 from August 10, 2020.
Delaware County is currently in the process of finalizing its 2021 county-wide property reassessment process. Property assessment values will change in 2021 for over 200,000 parcels of real property throughout the county. If you own commercial, industrial, or residential property in Delaware County, this presents a unique opportunity to review and potentially challenge your new assessment. If successful, this could save you money on your tax bills many years into the future.
Why is Delaware County reassessing property values?
A 2017 court order issued by Judge Burr of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas determined that the county’s current assessment structure is in violation of the state constitution. Judge Burr therefore ordered that a countywide reassessment be completed. The County awarded the contract for the reassessment project to Tyler Technologies, which has been capturing street-level images and collecting, reviewing and analyzing other property data over the past few years in order to determine each property’s assessment value for 2021.
Preliminary Assessment Values
Preliminary assessment values were mailed to all taxpayers earlier in 2020. A scheduled informal review period was instituted, which resulted in many meetings or phone calls with Tyler representatives to discuss the initial assessment values. While informal review proceedings are still being held by telephone, the deadline to schedule an informal review for property owners who had not previously done so has passed.
Have these assessments been finalized?
Do not worry if you missed out onthe informal review. The final 2021 assessment values will be determined, and it is anticipated that notices of those final values will be mailed out in accordance with the schedule below. Every property owner will then have the opportunity to file a formal appeal of their assessment before the new assessments are certified and tax bills are sent out in early 2021.
Important Dates to Remember
- June 2020: Tyler Technologies will submit their property values to Delaware County
- July 1, 2020: Delaware County will issue notices to all property owners with the new assessment
- September 1, 2020
August 10, 2020*: This change was made due to the concern that residents could miss the August Deadline.
- July – October 2020: Formal appeals will be heard by Auxiliary Tax Assessment Appeals Boards
- November 2020 – 2021 Assessments will be certified by County
- Early Feb 2021: County and Municipal tax bills mailed to owners
- Early July 2021: School District tax bills mailed to owners
*On May 11, 2020, Senate Bill 1145 was introduced to extend the appeal deadline to September 1, 2020. At the time of publication, the legislation remains in committee – please check the Delaware County Board of Assessment website and/or the date printed on your notice for more updated information.
How to Determine Whether to Appeal Your Property Assessment
When you receive the Notice from the Delaware County Board of Assessment indicating your property’s new assessed value for 2021, keep it simple. The one question you need to ask yourself is “what price could I get for my property if I listed and sold it?” If the new assessment is close to or less than that amount, then you should not appeal. If it is 15% or more above that amount, then you may want to consider filing an appeal.
Residential Property Owners
If you don’t have any idea of your residential property’s fair market value, you can get a rough idea by reviewing recent (six months or less) sale prices for comparable homes (“comps") on available real estate portals, or talking to real estate professionals with knowledge of the local market. For many, it may be worth paying to get a professional appraisal. A recent appraisal is extremely valuable evidence to present at your appeal hearing.
Commercial or Industrial Property Owners
For commercial or industrial property, the analysis of a property’s fair market value is often much more complex. Property taxes are often among the largest line items for any commercial owner, and reassessments often result in overassessment of income-generating properties. For example, the 2018 countywide reassessment in Lancaster County was determined to have resulted in significant overassessment of a number of large commercial properties. Subsequent appeals succeeded in lowering their assessments by 15% to over 50%, representing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax savings per year.
If you believe your new property assessment is too high, contact the real estate attorneys at High Swartz for a consultation. We have a wealth of experience in assessment appeals involving every category of property and have been successful in obtaining significant tax savings for clients in Delaware County and throughout Pennsylvania. Our knowledge of the law and familiarity with Delaware County’s assessment appeal process help us to maximize our clients’ tax savings for years into the future. Contact Bill Kerr or Stephen Zaffuto or call us at (610) 275-0700 for more information.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, dates are subject to change at any time. Visit http://delcorealestate.co.delaware.pa.us/delcoreassessment for up-to-date-information.
*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the initial assessment process by Tyler Technologies had been closed early due to the COVID-19 outbreak and shutdowns. The article has been updated to reflect that scheduled informal review meetings were not canceled but have instead been conducted via telephone.