NC has announced that the following counties will begin the tax reassessment appraisal process of real properties in January 2018:


CLAY COUNTY                              ONSLOW COUNTY







New Jersey has adopted a “property taxpayer bill of rights” seeking to assist property owners with the real estate assessment process. New Jersey has one of the nation’s highest property taxes. Bill A-4007 requires the state division of taxation director to list taxpayers’ real property rights “in simple and nontechnical terms” and post it on the website of the various county tax boards and municipalities in the state. It also provides taxpayers with the “right to understand the calculation of the assessment on their real property, the right to detailed information about how to appeal an assessment of real property and the right to view the real property assessment of any other parcel of real property in the municipality in which the taxpayer’s property is located.”

A Texas appellate court recently affirmed the dismissal of the city of Austin’s lawsuit claiming commercial and vacant property are being undervalued during property tax appraisals.  Austin sued the Travis Central Appraisal District after an appraisal review board in Travis County denied the city’s formal challenge to what it said was the systematic undervaluation of two classes of vacant and commercial properties. The city alleged the state’s property tax appraisal system is unconstitutional and creates two different standards of assessment, resulting in arbitrary and unequal taxation.

In Austin v. Travis Central Appraisal District et al., case number 03-16-00038-CV, the Third Court of Appeals said, though the city does have statutory standing to challenge the level of appraisals of any category of property in the district, Austin had effectively foregone the administrative determination of its challenge, depriving the district court of jurisdiction. The court said the city could bring its concerns over tax policy to the attention of the Legislature, but that Austin “has no standing to pursue such a debate in this court.”  “The city’s constitutional challenge is a transparent attempt by a taxing unit to debate an issue of tax policy that is within the prerogative of the Legislature, rather than the judiciary,” the court said.

Austin filed the suit in August 2015, two months after the appraisal review board’s ruling, also naming as defendants several individual property owners it claimed held undervalued properties. It argued commercial and vacant properties weren’t being appraised at market value because property owners aren’t required to disclose real estate sales data, which the city said created an imbalance in information available for different properties.

A New Jersey tax court judge has granted a property owner’s request to reduce its tax assessment by about $1.5 million.  The Court found that the taxes should have equaled a judgment entered two years earlier under the Freeze Act.

In Norwood Realty Associates v. Township of Ocean, Judge Mala Sundar approved the property owner’s request to use the Freeze Act to substantially lower the taxes on a property located in Monmouth, Ocean Township. The property owner argued that the tax assessment should be $1 million pursuant to a final judgment on the property’s 2014 assessment.  That amount was based on a settlement between the parties.

Judge Sundar rejected the township’s argument that the Freeze Act did not apply because the property had undergone a tax revaluation which can be an exception to the Act.  She explained that since “there was no revaluation for 2016 . . . , the application of the Freeze Act is not automatically barred.”

Maryland’s highest court recently held that the tax court can value a property by relying on sale prices of comparable properties bought soon after a cutoff date for the assessment. In Ann Lane v. Supervisor of Assessments of Montgomery County, the Maryland Court of Appeals concluded that the Maryland Tax Court had properly taken into account sales of comparable properties that occurred a few months after the so-called date of finality when determining the value of a condominium. The date of finality is a Maryland assessment tool used to determine the value of a property once every three years and is defined as “January 1, immediately before the 1st taxable year to which the assessment based on the new value is applicable.”

PA’s Commonwealth Court found that Fayette County waited to assess a property owned by Duke Energy Corp until a tax abatement ended instead of assessing it when Duke Energy upgraded the property because it lacked the money to conduct a proper assessment and wanted to wait until the property was taxable. The Court overturned a trial court’s opinion, saying state law is clear that property assessments must occur when improvements are made on the property, not after.   “Here, although an outside appraiser would have been necessary and costly, the costs of the appraisal at the proper time is not a factor which the board had the luxury of weighing,” the Commonwealth Court explaine.

Duke used 60 acres to build a gas-fired electric-generating station and applied to enroll those acres in the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax abatement program. Duke finished construction on the station in 2003 and told Fayette County. But the county waited to assess the property because it felt the assessment would be expensive — about $25,000 to $50,000 — and it didn’t want to expend funds until the property became taxable and it could see a return on its investment.

We recently had a significant victory in a large tax appeal case in Allegheny County, PA.  The property included 2 office buildings that were being transitioned from a single tenant to a multi-tenant property. There were 2 years under appeal and, prior to our challenge, the assessed fair market value was $49 million.  Our appraised values were $16.7 million and $21 million.  The taxing authority’s appraised values were $20 million and $30.9 million.  I attempted to settle the case, but the taxing authorities were not interested in a reasonable resolution.  It went to a full hearing and the award was for our exact values.  The taxing authorities did not appeal the decision.

Fox Rothschild has filed a class action on behalf of the owners of approximately 1,240 properties located in Philadelphia challenging recent legislation which “adopts” an artificially high Established Predetermined Ratio (EPR) for the 2013 tax year. Significantly, while the legislation expressly recognizes that real estate tax assessment in the City has become “increasingly at variance with principles of uniformity and sound assessment,” 53 Pa.C.S.A. § 8565(a)(1), it arbitrarily incorporates knowingly inaccurate 2011 property values and 2009 sales data as the foundation for the new EPR. In so doing, we allege that the legislation undermines the integrity of the assessment process by eviscerating Taxpayers’ fundamental rights to uniformity in taxation. More information about this case can be found at

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ bipartisan House Select Committee on Property Tax Reform held two days of hearings in Harrisburg to review local government property tax collection, reassessments and local tax structures. The committee is conducting a review of Pennsylvania’s local tax structure. According to an article in PA Law Weekly, State Representative Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery, chairman of the committee, said, “When you mention property taxes, most people think about the school property tax, but county and municipal governments also levy proper taxes so it is important for us to talk about the local government tax structure. County governments play a very large role in property tax policy because they are responsible for reassessments. County and local governments also deliver many of the services on which citizens rely.”

More hearing days are being scheduled.

In Greth Development v. Berks County Board of Assessment Appeals, the Berks County trial court considered whether the tax assessment of individual lots of a residential subdivision should take into account “ongoing subdivision concerns, including cash flow, absorption rate of lot sales, and ongoing expenses.” The case involved a residential subdivision in which 25 lots remained unsold. The property owner argued that “to obtain an appropriate value, the assessment should take into account the owner’s ongoing concerns relating to the subdivision, including the time and cash flow considerations. While the subdivision has been divided into individual lots, improvements have been made and a few lots have been sold, there remains an extensive inventory of remaining lots, which likely will be sold over the course of several years, particularly given the current state of the economy. . . . During the pendency of the sales, [the property owner] would continue to be saddled with taxes, maintenance, and other subdivision costs.”

The taxing authority argued that “one the subdivision has been divided into individual lots, each lot becomes an independent entity, subject to its own assessment. [The property owner’s] subdivision costs become irrelevant, for those costs do not affect what a buyer of a lot would be willing to pay.”

The court agreed with the taxing authority and held that the lots should be assessed on an individual basis and, therefore, the considerations that would impact the valuation of a subdivision do not necessarily apply to the valuation of individual lots. “A prospective buyer of an individual lot of that subdivision, however, even assuming the lot would be purchased for income producing purposes, would not be concerned with the ongoing subdivision costs, or the time lag in sales of neighboring lots, for that would have no effect on his income projections, capital expenses incurred in preparing the lot to produce income, or the ongoing expenses incurred thereafter.”