Pennsylvania Property Taxes
Overview of Pennsylvania Property Taxes
Each year, the State of Pennsylvania and local governments collect about $125 billion in revenue. Of that, $19 billion comes from property taxes, or 15.6% of the total government revenue. Pennsylvania's average property tax rate is 1.47%, which is higher than the national average of 1.06%. However, property tax rates range from 0.90% to 2.47% across counties. How does the translate into what the average Pennsylvanian pays? The average home value in Pennsylvania is $202,534 and the average property tax bill is $2,980, or $14.71 per $1,000 of home value.
Because state government largely steers clear of property taxes, leaving the taxing authority to counties and municipalities, the Pennsylvania property tax system differs across counties. Each county has a different entity responsible for property tax assessment and separate taxing authorities, including local municipalities and school districts. Pennsylvania property taxes are used to fund services such as public school, fire and police departments, sanitation services, and public recreational facilities.
The local tax assessor's office determines your tax bill by determining your home's assessed value, applying eligible tax exceptions, and then applying the rate established by the local taxing authorities. Different factors determine Pennsylvania property tax bills from county to county, including property value, millage rates, and the revenue needs of local governments. As a result, there is no single set Pennsylvania property tax rate.
If you are planning to buy a home in Pennsylvania and want to understand how much your property tax bill could potentially cost, check out our Pennsylvania Property Tax Tool to see what your bill would be.
Counties and municipalities use millage rates to determine the Pennsylvania property tax rate. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of your home's value and is determined by the amount of money taxing authorities require for the upcoming fiscal year. If, for instance, a certain county sets a millage rate of 5 mills, then the taxpayer will be required to pay $5 for every $1,000 of in home's value.
If you disagree with your home's assessed value, you can appeal your property taxes. Properties are assessed annually, and you can file your appeal with the local assessment authority in your county. Keep in mind that while the assessed value can be appealed, tax rates cannot.
Pennsylvania Property Tax Due Dates
When are property taxes due in Pennsylvania? It depends on where you are located.
In Philadelphia, tax bills are mailed to property owners in December and you are required to pay the bill in full by March 31st or risk owning interest and penalties.
Outside of Philadelphia, you can receive multiple tax bills over the course of the year. Each body with taxing authority, such as townships, counties, and schools will send a separate bill. For example, council and municipal taxes might be mailed March 1st, while school district taxes might be mailed on July 1st. Each bill will indicate the due date, but usually they are due within 30 to 45 days after they are issued.
Property owners in Philadelphia and across the rest of Pennsylvania can usually get a discount of a few percentage points off their bill if they pay early.
There are penalties if the taxes are paid four months after the bill date. Homeowners who fail to file their taxes by the Pennsylvania property tax due dates can lose their homes through a tax sale. The state has a legal process that allows the taxing authority to sell a property to recover overdue taxes.
Before your house is put up for sale, the tax claim bureau will mail you a notice of sale and is required to locate you if there are doubts about your receipt of the notice before the house is put up for sale. The bureau must also deliver a written sale notice by personal service to the occupant of the house in question 10 days before the tax sale. Homeowners can prevent a tax sale by paying the total of delinquent Pennsylvania property taxes, including interests and other penalties.
Pennsylvania Property Tax Exemptions
If you are a Pennsylvanian, then you want to make sure you overpaying your Pennsylvania property taxes. However, the state offers several exemptions to reduce the property tax burden for homeowners. Among them are homestead exemption and senior exemption.
Pennsylvania Homestead Exemption
The state of Pennsylvania's homestead exemption allows a part of your house's value to be exempt from Pennsylvania property taxes. The amount exempted depends on the tax jurisdiction and the taxing authorities involved. The exemption also allows a $300 tax relief to a property jointly owned by a married couple. More information about the homestead exemption can be found in the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Pennsylvania Senior Citizens Exemption
Senior Pennsylvanian citizens can enjoy a rebate on their Pennsylvania property taxes if they meet certain criteria. For starters, they must be 65 years and older with an income not exceeding $35,000 per year. The same rebate is extended to widows and widowers 50 and older and people living with disabilities aged 18 and over. Note that those who qualify for the exemption are still required to pay before Pennsylvania property tax due dates.
Disabled veterans who are blind, double amputees, paraplegic, or have 100% military-related injuries can get an exemption from their Pennsylvania property taxes. This exemption also covers unmarried surviving spouses of such veterans. The amount exempted depends on each veteran's financial needs. Pennsylvania's Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs has more information on this exemption.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvanians can contest their home's assessed value if they disagree with the assessor's valuation. Appeals are handled by the Board of Appeals. Homeowners are required to file their petition appeals electronically on the Pennsylvania Board of Appeals' online petition center. Petitions can also be mailed to the Board.
If you are filing an appeal, you may appear before the Board on your behalf or seek the services of an accountant, attorney, or any individual with the required technical knowledge. Remember, the burden of proof lies with the petitioner unless there are fraud issues.
The appeal process can vary from county to county, but the procedure mostly follows the following steps:
- Obtain your assessment
- Determine if you are overassessed
- Complete forms needed to appeal
- File property tax appeal
- Prepare for hearing
- Attend hearing
- Appeal the decision
Each local goverment in Pennsylvania will have its own process for how to do each step. If you are are a current homeowner in Pennsylvania or are looking at buying a specific property in Pennsylvania, you can also use TaxProper to determine if you should consider appealing your property tax assessment and to handle the appeal process for you.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Philadelphia
For a better demonstration of how to complete the above steps, here is how to appeal your property taxes in Philadelphia, the most populous city in Pennsylvania.
Obtain your assessment
Philadelphia residents are assessed by the Office of Property Assessment (OPA). To know how much your home has been assessed, check the tax bill notification or find it online at the OPA's website.
Determine if you are overassessed
To file a petition appealing your home's assessed value, you first need to look for evidence supporting your claims of overvaluation. Philadelphia residents can use the city's search feature to check out the valuation and physical details of properties within the city. This will allow you to know the value of other properties similar to yours and what they have fetched in the market.
Complete forms needed to appeal
You can obtain the forms you need to appeal your property taxes from the City of Philadelphia's official website.
File property tax appeal
If you wish to contest your home's assessed value in Philadelphia County, you can do so by filing an appeal with the Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT). To file an appeal, you must complete all the required appeal forms. Appeals can also be filed to the Board’s offices between 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M Monday through Friday.
Prepare for hearing
Preparing for your property assessment appeal hearing involves preparing documentation supporting your claim that your home has been overassessed. This includes oral testimonies, photos showing all sides of the property, recent appraisal, and other documentation that may help prove your case. Failure to provide the above documents can result in your appeal's dismissal.
The Board of Revision of Taxes requires the applicant to attend a hearing. However, you can also be represented by an authorized representative or legal counsel. The Board is required any relevant evidence when deciding the appeal. Failure to appear at the hearing may constitute a ground for the appeal's dismissal. You can request a postponement of the oral hearing two business days before the day of the hearing. However, the Board can grant or deny the request.
Appeal the decision
The Board of Revision of Taxes is the starting point of any appeal process regarding property taxes. If you are not satisfied with their determination, there is the option of appealing to the Board of Tax Appeals or the Court of Common Pleas. Appeals to both institutions must be preceded by filing a notice of appeal.
Property Tax Information for Pennsylvania Counties
The table below provides county-level information about how property taxes work in each Pennsylvania county.
Want to learn more? Click the county links to learn more about a specific Pennsylvania county.
|County||Average Home Value||Average Tax Bill||Bill per $1,000|