If you’re going to file an assessment appeal, don’t wait

Deadline for appeal applications is Oct. 7

If you’re go­ing to ap­peal your prop­erty’s new city as­sess­ment, you don’t have much time left to do it.

The dead­line to ap­peal for re­lief from the Board of Re­vi­sion of Taxes is Monday, Oct. 7. And just in case you don’t have a cal­en­dar handy, that’s few­er than two weeks from now.

So, if you want to chal­lenge the value the city has put on your prop­erty, don’t dawdle.

BRT Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Carla Pa­gan in June said she ex­pec­ted thou­sands of ap­peals of the real es­tate re­as­sess­ments is­sued this year as part of the city’s Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive.

This week, The Phil­adelphia In­quirer re­por­ted the Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment has ad­vised about 25,000 prop­erty own­ers who filed first-level re­view re­quests that their re­views will not be com­pleted be­fore the BRT ap­peal dead­line. They were told, the news­pa­per re­por­ted, to file their BRT ap­peals now.

Pa­gan has said she an­ti­cip­ates many of those ap­peals to filed just be­fore or on the dead­line. As of Sept. 17, the BRT has re­ceived just a little more than 1,500 ap­peals, she stated in a Sept. 19 email to the North­east Times.

Most years, the BRT gets 1,000 to 2,000 ap­peals, she said.

The Crosstown Co­ali­tion, an as­so­ci­ation of Cen­ter City and river wards com­munity groups, re­cently is­sued an “AVI Ap­peal Guide” and an “AVI Sur­viv­al Guide” that co-au­thor Walt Spen­cer said “will help homeown­ers through the some­times com­plic­ated pro­cess of fil­ing an ap­peal to the Board of Re­vi­sion of Taxes.”

The guides, also writ­ten by Rene Good­win, con­tain in­form­a­tion of tax-re­lief pro­grams, seni­or cit­izen re­lief pro­grams and ten­ant-re­bate pro­grams.

The guides can be found at crosstown­co­ali­tion.tax.word­press.com.

Here are some high­lights:

— Get an ap­peal ap­plic­a­tion at the BRT’s web­site, www.phila.gov/brt/PD­FAp­peal­Form­and­In­struc­tions.pdf

— Fol­low the dir­ec­tions on the form and send it to the Board of Re­vi­sion of Taxes, The Curtis Cen­ter, 601 Wal­nut St., Suite 325 East, Phil­adelphia, PA 19106 by Oct. 7.

— The BRT’s phone num­ber is: 215-686-4343.

— An ap­peal may be filed in per­son at the BRT’s of­fice, Monday through Fri­day, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

— Keep a signed and dated copy of an ap­peal with per­son­al re­cords.

— A prop­erty own­er had filed a first-level ap­peal with the Of­fice of Prop­erty as­sess­ment and has not re­ceived a de­cision should file an now to pro­tect his or her rights. If OPA rules in your fa­vor, you can with­draw your ap­peal.

— You can only file if you are an own­er of re­cord or an equit­able own­er who has some in­terest in the prop­erty. Also, ten­ants re­spons­ible for all or part of a prop­erty’s real es­tate taxes, ten­ants re­spons­ible for all or part of the use and oc­cu­pancy taxes or mort­gage lenders who take pos­ses­sion of mort­gaged prop­er­ties also may file ap­peals.

— Ap­peal ap­plic­ants may file pho­tos of their prop­er­ties along with any oth­er doc­u­ments the ap­plic­ants feel ap­pro­pri­ate.

— Land­lords must at­tach cop­ies of leases, in­come and ex­pense state­ments and pho­to­graphs of the fronts, rears, sides and street views of their prop­er­ties.

— Once the BRT re­ceives your ap­plic­a­tion, you, or your law­yer, will be told of a hear­ing dated and time. You can waive an or­al hear­ing.

— If you have a hear­ing sched­uled and don’t show up, that can be con­sidered an aban­don­ment of your ap­peal and be grounds for dis­missal.

— You can try to prove your case by show­ing your prop­erty is not like neigh­bor­ing prop­er­ties that have as­sess­ments like yours. Go to the OPA web­site (www.phila.gov/opa) to check out oth­er as­sess­ments. Bring doc­u­ments that show re­cent sale prices.

— If your prop­erty is as­sessed at $1 mil­lion or more, a pro­fes­sion­al as­sess­ment is re­quired.

— Only the own­er or the own­er’s at­tor­ney may speak at the hear­ing.

— An own­er should sub­mit a short writ­ten po­s­i­tion pa­per that gets to the point quickly.

— A great volume of ap­peals is ex­pec­ted, so the or­al part of the hear­ing may be very short.

Pa­gan stressed that Pennsylvania law puts the bur­den of prov­ing an as­sess­ment is un­fair on tax­pay­ers, re­quir­ing them to pro­duce com­pet­ent, cred­ible and rel­ev­ant evid­ence to over­come an as­sess­ment.

“Do not file your ap­peal without it,” she stated.

Spen­cer said an ap­peal ap­plic­ant should cite spe­cif­ic in­form­a­tion on sales and as­sess­ments of sim­il­ar prop­er­ties in his or her im­me­di­ate neigh­bor­hood.’

A tax­pay­er’s in­come has no bear­ing on the BRT board’s de­cision on an as­sess­ment ap­peal, she ad­ded.

“One’s in­come is not a val­id ar­gu­ment for the re­duc­tion of a prop­erty’s mar­ket value,” she stated. “It’s in­ef­fect­ive to write or talk about it to the board.”

BRT Web­site

In­form­a­tion on the Board of Re­vi­sion of Taxes can be found at www.phila.gov/brt

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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