Reporter's Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government

what you really need to know when they send you to a meeting

Tax assessment/ reassessment

with 3 comments

County governments are responsible for assessing real estate. Local governments and school districts use the county’s assessments to levy taxes within their jurisdictions.

Exception: a few third-class cities in Pennsylvania conduct their own assessments. 

A few municipalities and several school districts in Pennsylvania cross county lines, so property taxes in those communities are based on assessments from two or more counties. In order to make the tax rates fair for all taxpayers, different millage rates have to be set in each county.

Assessed values may be close to market values of property, or they may be nowhere near market values, depending how recently a county has gone through a reassessment, and depending on the “predetermined ratio,” which is the percent of the value of property used to determine assessed value. County commissioners set the predetermined ratio.

In practice, county governments tend to avoid county-wide reassessments because taxpayers don’t like them, even though reassessments do not increase taxes for all property owners.

State law limits tax increases in the first year following a reassessment by capping the total additional revenue a taxing jurisdiction can earn as a result of the reassessment at 5 percent for county and municipal governments and 10 percent for school districts (except in Allegheny County, where school districts are also limited to a 5 percent increase in the first year). First-year increases by school districts can be further limited by the rules imposed by Act 1.

For example, if reassessment doubles the value of all the property in a municipality, then the municipal government would have to cut its tax rate in half to earn the same revenue – or, cut its rate in half and then add 5 percent to earn the maximum additional tax revenue in the first year after reassessment.

For individual property owners, taxes could go up or down after reassessment, depending on whether their property’s assessed value goes up or down as compared with other property in the county.

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Written by pareporter

June 1, 2010 at 4:20 am

3 Responses

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  1. more of a question may a township double its millage rate the year of or after a reassement , our township is discussing doubling its millage rate to raise funds to build an office building

    Jean Baker

    August 14, 2011 at 6:12 am

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