Since we are now in mid-March, people who live in Pennsylvania and own their own homes or other real estate should do a reality check to see whether they are paying too much in real estate taxes because their property is overassessed.
In order to complete this check, you need the following:
1. A copy of one of this year's tax bills that includes the assessed value of your property.
2. At least a rough idea of what your house or property is worth.
3. The common level ratio factor that applies to the county in which your house or property is located.
The common level ratio factor is based on a ratio that is determined annually by Pennsylvania's State Tax Equalization Board. It is supposed to represent the ratio of the assessed value to the actual value of the property.
To check of your assessment, multiply the assessed value of your property by the common level ratio factor that applies to your county. Pennsylvania's common level ratio factors can be found at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/realty_transfer_tax/11417/common_level_ratios/580584.
For Delaware County, for 2014, it is 1.39; for Chester County, it is 1.70; for Montgomery County, it is 1.61; and for Bucks County it is 9.26.
If the math gives you a number that is significantly higher than the actual value of your house or property (what it would sell for), you should consider filing a tax appeal.
In many counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the deadline for filing a tax appeal of your 2014 assessment is August 1, 2013. If you miss this deadline, you will have to wait another year. You should check with your county's Board of Assessment Appeals to confirm the deadlines, or consult a lawyer who handles real estate tax appeals.