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