The deadline for filing a tax assessment appeal in Bucks and Chester Counties is quickly approaching. August 1, 2011 is the final day that assessment appeals can be filed with the Assessors Office for Bucks and Chester County.
So, if you are thinking about filing an appeal, now is the time to act. You will need to fill out a appeal application and submit it to the assessor’s office along with the appropriate filing fee. In Bucks and Chester Counties the filing fee for a residential property is $25.
In an assessment appeal the burden of proof is on the property owner. If you are going to represent yourself, you will need all the documentation necessary to support your case. You should bring pictures of your property, including any damage or detracting features. You should have information on comparable sales in your neighborhood. You can get this from the public records, from a real estate agent of from websites like Zillow. However, I would not recommend Zillow since the values the site produces can be grossly inaccurate.
Having a current appraisal of your home completed by a certified real estate appraiser specifically for the purpose of the tax appeal is probably your best alternative. An appraisal completed for any other purpose such as a refinance could be rejected by the Board at the hearing. The cost of the appraisal can easily be offset by the savings from a successful appeal. Some appraisers will even attend the hearing with you (sometimes for a fee) so that they can answer any questions the Board of Assessment may have about the appraisal while hearing your case. Remember, appraisers cannot advocate for you. You will have to be your own advocate. The appraiser can; however, answer questions about the appraisal done on your property.
If you elect to have someone represent you at your hearing (either a professional tax appeal firm or an attorney), they will take care of the application process, obtaining an appraisal and representing you at the appeal hearing. In some cases, this can really work in your favor. These professionals know the system and can advocate on your behalf. We work with a number of tax appeal firms and would gladly provide recommendations if you need one.
If you are not sure whether or not you have a case for an appeal, please feel free to contact one of the appraisers at our office. We will take a look at your situation and give you an indication as to whether an appeal would be worth your while.
But hurry…time is running out!