Assessment Appeals

Please be advised there is a new fee schedule for the appeal process effective January 1, 2018

Thank you for visiting the Assessment Appeals section of our website. The goal of this page is to provide you with information regarding the assessment appeals process in York County.

Please note: The following information should not be construed as legal advice. The York County Assessment and Tax Claim Office and York County assume no responsibilty and accept no liability for actions taken by users of this document, including reliance upon their contents.

Filing Assessment Appeals in York County

All appeals must be in writing on the forms provided by the York County Assessment Office. The appeal form is available by clicking here or by contacting the York County Assessment Office at 717-771-9232

Appeals may be submitted at any time throughout the year. Facsimile appeals are not acceptable.

The burden of proving an assessment is incorrect rests on the property owners. The assessment will be presumed to be correct until the property owners come forward with credible evidence to prove otherwise.

The strongest method to make that case would be to have an appraisal conducted on the property. The appraisal report should be a complete analysis and conform to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

As such, it should include the three (3) traditional approaches to value: the sales comparison approach, the income approach, and the cost approach, if applicable to subject. Appraiser should clearly explain the reasoning and methodology employed. The objective of the appraisal is to establish actual current value, frequently referred to as market value, of the subject property.

If the property owners do not want to conduct a formal appraisal, they have the right to make their own case to the Board of Assessment Appeals based upon their own research.

Understanding The Process

1. The first step in the appeals process is to complete the appeal form and include the appropriate appraisal establishing current actual value (market value) of the subject property. As above stated, the appeal must be filed on or before August 1 for any effective assessment change on January 1 for county and township taxes, and July 1 for school district of the following year. During a reassessment year, appeals may be filed as late as September 1.

2. The term “actual value” (market value) is defined by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as the market or fair market value which is in turn defined as “the price which a purchaser willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner willing but not obligated to sell, taking into consideration the uses of which the property is adapted and might in reason be applied.”

3. In the course of the appeal process and prior to the hearing, the York County Assessment Office may have an assessor review the appraisal or information provided by the homeowner. In some instances, the assessor may contact the property owners to discuss the basis of the appeal and, on occasion, make an offer to modify the current assessment. An assessor possesses only very limited authority to modify an assessment prior to a full hearing before the Board. The assessor is bound by the definition of actual value as above stated. As such, an assessor lacks the authority to consider distressed sales, short sales or foreclosure as a basis upon which to reduce an assessment.

4. If the property owners are not satisfied with any possible modified assessment as suggested by the assessor, the property owners have the right to proceed with a full due process hearing before the Board of Assessment Appeals. At the hearing, all parties including all three taxing districts, the Assessment Office, the property owners and their respective appraisers have an opportunity to provide testimony and ask questions relating to various aspects of the property in order to establish its actual value.

5. Unlike the limited review conducted by an assessor prior to the hearing, the Board of Assessment Appeals has broad authority and discretion in adjusting the assessment of a property and may consider aspects of overall distressed market conditions with appropriate evidence and testimony being provided as to relevant distressed sales, short sales and/or foreclosures. In short, the duty of the Board of Assessment Appeals is to establish actual value (market value) at the time of the appeal.

6. After the Board of Assessment Appeals has established the market value of the property, it must then adjust that value to a base year value which is the year of the last countywide reassessment. In York County, the base year is 2006. On an annual basis, the state mandates a ratio of present market value to the base year value. This is called the common level ratio. Every July 1, the Common Level Ratio is changed by State Tax Equalization Board (STEB). This new CLR is used from July 1 until the end of the year and following next 6 months of the next year to June 30. On April 18, 2013, Governor Colbett signed Senate Bill 66 into law as Act 2 of 2013. Act 2 consolidated the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) into the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). STEB is now known as the Tax Equalization Division (TED) of the DCED. As an example, the York County Ratio changed as of July 1, 2018 to 85.9. This is how it works: If the Board of Assessment Appeals decides the market value of the property is $100,000, that value is then multiplied by the common level ratio of 85.9. Therefore, the new assessed value of the property is $85,900. Only the Board of Assessment Appeals and the court exercise the authority to apply the common level ratio to assessment appeals.

7. If the property owners remain dissatisfied with the results of the proceeding before the Board of Assessment Appeals, the property owners are free to appeal that decision to the York County Court of Common Pleas. This will be an entirely new proceeding at which time testimony is offered and appraisals are submitted to the court. These are non-jury trials and the judge alone is vested with the authority to make the final determination of actual value of the property. In these proceedings, it is common that all three taxing districts intervene to either maintain or even increase the value of the property under appeal by the property owners.

8. In addition to the foregoing proceedings, there are in rare instances where there is a mathematical or clerical error in the assessment. In these instances, the law provides that whenever through mathematical or clerical error an assessment is made more than it should have been and taxes are paid on such incorrect assessment, the Board upon discovery of such error and correction of the assessment shall so inform the appropriate taxing districts which shall make refunds to the taxpayer or taxpayers for the period of the error or six years, whichever is less, from the date of application for refund or discovery of such error by the Board. This process does not require a hearing before the Board. Therefore, in most instances, there will be no application of the common level ratio to such assessment adjustments.

Appeal Hearing Proceedings

  • The property owners or the property owners’ agent must be present at the hearing. If the property owners are to be represented by an agent, other than an attorney, a written letter of authorization by the appellant must be presented by the agent at the hearing.
  • All testimony must be taken under oath or affirmation.
  • Testimony as to adverse conditions affecting the property may be offered by appropriate professionals licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, such as construction engineers or civil engineers who have submitted a written report 14 calendar days prior to the hearing.
  • Testimony as to financial operations of a subject property may be offered by accountants or financial advisors licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who have submitted written reports prior to the hearing.
  • All reports offered by experts must be in writing. Persons who are licensed or certified in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must prepare reports and they are requested to be present at the hearing. All reports must be submitted in quadruplicate to the Assessment Office. An appraisal report must be received in the Assessment Office at least 14 calendar days prior to the hearing or the Board of Assessment Appeals reserves the right to declare the appeal abandoned.
  • The decision by the Board of Assessment Appeals or court as to the assessed value of the property will be implemented by the Assessment Office.

It is recommended that the property owners read and review the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Assessment Appeals which are attached to the appeal form.

Failure to appear or be represented at the hearing will result in the appeal being dismissed as an abandoned appeal.