Licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers

Blair County Tax Reassessment

Blair County had not conducted a county wide property tax assessment since 1958. Property tax assessments determine the amount of real estate taxes property owners pay each year including city/borough, township, school and county real estate taxes. The county estimates the value of your property, converts that into a tax assessed value (currently at 1958 values) and multiplies that value by the millage rate of your municipality, school district and county.

The county estimates your assessed value by using specific valuations methods to reduce your property value to a 1958 level. Part of that equation is using what is called a common level ratio. This helps reduce the current value down to a 1958 value.

So, if a tax assessor calculates the current value of your property to be $187,500, the assessor then multiplies that number by the common level ratio (say 14.3% or 0.143) resulting in a 1958 assessed value of $30,000 (the assessor can use different methods to arrive at your assessed value or current market value, so this is just a rough guide to assist in explaining this process). Or you can take your current assessed value (say $30,000) and divide that by 0.143 (common level ratio) and that will give you an idea on how the county estimates the current value of your property.

Once the county has estimated your assessed value, you multiply the assessed value by the total of the city / borough / township, county and school district tax rates to arrive at your yearly property taxes.

Example
(with current market values reduced to the 1958 value)
A person living in Logan Township:
School millage rate: 55 mills
Township millage rate: 14.375
County millage rate: 31.666
Total millage rate: 101.041 then converted into a millage rate of (.101041)

$ 5,000 (assessed value of land)
$25,000 (assessed value of building)
$30,000 (total assessed property value) X .101041 (101.041 mills in Logan Township) = $3,031 total taxes for 2014 (including city/borough/township, school district and county real estate taxes).

The City of Altoona had complaints that whenever someone fixed up their house, their taxes increased. As a result (like the Ebensburg Borough), the city decided to shift the taxes from the actual house and/or improvements (like garages) to the land so people are not penalized for improving their houses. Altoona no longer taxes buildings, and taxes only the land.

Example
$5,000 Land Assessed Value
$25,000 Building Assessed Value
$30,000 Total Assessed Value

City millage rates:
Land: 388.086 mills
Building: 0 mills
School: 55 mills
County: 31.666

 

City of Altoona calculates taxes as follows:  
0.388086 x $5,000 land assessed value = $1,940
0 x $25,000 building assessed value = $0
0.055 x $30,000 total assessed value = $1,650
0.031666 x $30,000 total assessed value = $950
Total 2014 property tax = $4,540

Tax Reassessment Process
These calculations had served Blair County since 1958, however, some municipalities have reached a maximum amount (in millage rates) that can be levied and now the county claims that it will have financial issues in the 2017 budget. Though tax reassessment in itself is not supposed to be a method of increasing revenue to the county and municipalities, it can allow the county to have new assessed property values and then possibly lower the millage rates so they can be increased more easily instead of seeking court approval for rate increases.

Blair County has completed a county wide property tax reassessment and, though not a popular decision, it was long overdue.

Based on the overall condition, quality, size and room count of the improvements as well as lot size and garage area, the assessors arrive at a final assessed value for your property. It may be reasonably accurate or it may not be. The tax assessment office then sends out notices to every property owner informing them of their new assessed property valuation.

There may be some issues you need to clarify to the assessment office, such as if you have 30 acres of ground and it is mostly located in the flood zone, considered wet lands or have steep mountain ground, but you were assessed as if you had flat or rolling ground. This may or may not happen, but considering the amount of parcels in the county, it could be an extremely busy time at the tax assessment office and phone calls might not be returned for days due to the large volume of residents calling and visiting the courthouse.

The tax assessment office assigns a final assessed value on your property. If you feel it is high and that your property value is lower than the assessed value, you will need to file a tax appeal with the tax assessment office (the forms will either be in the office or posted online). With that tax appeal form, you will need to state why you want the tax appeal and provide your estimate of your property’s market value. The county tax assessment office will require you to get a real estate appraisal (by a real estate appraiser) and submit the appraisal to the tax assessment office. There will be a deadline when all the appeals will have to be filed. Once you file the tax appeal paperwork with the tax assessment office, you will eventually be assigned a hearing date where you will make your case with the chief tax assessor and the county commissioners. Given the significant volume of appraisals that may be needed during the tax reassessment process, you may or may not have a copy of the appraisal at the time of the hearing but it is preferred. The county may allow the appraiser more time to complete the appraisal beyond the hearing date due to the thousands of potential tax appeals and the limited time to get the appraisals completed before the hearing.

Once the hearing is completed and the appraisal is submitted to the assessment office, the office and the commissioners will render a verdict in granting the tax appeal, reject the tax appeal request or make a settlement with the property owner. If the tax appeal is accepted or a settlement is agreed by both parties, the tax appeal process is completed. If your tax appeal is rejected, you can decide to have a court hearing so judge may render an opinion and given a final verdict.

This is a typical progression of the tax appeal process. Once the new assessed values are sent to every homeowner, it can become a rather chaotic time since the tax assessment office will probably see hundreds of people each day, in addition to the hundreds of calls they receive that can’t be immediately returned.

If you think your new property assessed value is too high, you may want to call a qualified and experienced appraiser quickly since there could be thousands of people filing tax appeals requiring thousands of appraisals. The company hired to do the tax reassessment in Blair County estimates that about 10% (of the parcels in Blair County) or possibly 6,000 people will file tax appeals, however, during Bedford County’s recent tax reassessment, 15-20% of property owners filed appeals, which could result in 10,000-13,000 tax appeals.

With 25 years of experience and over 9,000 appraisals completed, Four Seasons Appraisal Services, LLC is a leading choice for your tax appeal inquiries and appraisals. Contact Four Seasons Appraisal Services, LLC (preferably by email) for an appraisal or guidance in the tax appeal process.

Please refer to the Blair County web site for their official documents and information:
http://www.blairco.org/Pages/Reassessment.aspx