Last week, the PA Chamber sent a letter of support for S.B. 297, regulating spot appeals of property reassessments. Currently, counties are prohibited from selectively choosing individual properties to reassess to increase taxes. However, some school districts are circumventing this prohibition by misusing the appeals process and even hiring third-party contingency-based firms to target specific properties, often the employers in a community.
The PA Chamber has long-maintained that all property owners should pay their fair share of property taxes, and we have offered support for mandatory regular, county-wide reassessments – even though some employers’ taxes may increase as a result. However, the practice of spot appeals is inconsistent with the constitutional requirement that taxes be applied uniformly and unfairly creates winners and losers among employers.
Senate Bill 297 does not prohibit spot appeals. Rather, it outlines circumstances under which a spot appeal can be brought – such as if a property is divided or changes its productive use – and ensures that assessments cannot be increased beyond what is uniform among comparable properties.
The bill was passed with bipartisan support by the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.