Are You Getting All Your Pennsylvania Property Tax Breaks?

Make sure you're not paying too much in Pennsylvania property taxes!

Whether you live in Pittsburgh, Philly or any other Pennsylvania community, your home is subject to local property taxes – year in and year out. Of course, you want to make sure that you’re not overpaying.

How can you reduce your property tax burden? There are two main ways. The first method is available to all Pennsylvania homeowners. The second depends on whether you meet certain qualifications. If you do, you can seek tax relief using both methods.

Method #1 – Appeal the Taxable Value of Your Home

You may know that the Pennsylvania authorities compute your property tax by multiplying your home’s taxable value by the tax rate.

Example: Peter and Joan own a home in Pennsylvania. The assessor has placed a taxable value of $200,000 on the home. If the tax rate is 1%, Peter and Joan will owe $2,000 in property tax. So, they appeal the $200,000 taxable value. The appeals board reduces that value to $150,000. Now, Peter and Joan owe only $1,500 in property tax on their Pennsylvania home.

If you believe that the tax assessor has misjudged the value of your home – or if the taxable value is higher than that of similar homes – you might want to pursue an appeal. For more information, read Should You Challege Your Property Tax Assessment in Pennsylvania?

Method #2 –Get All the Tax Breaks You’re Entitled To

Pennsylvania allows for reduced property taxes if you meet certain requirements. Here’s a summary of the chief programs in Pennsylvania.

Homestead exemption. A portion of your Pennsylvania home’s value may be exempt from property tax. The amount will depend on the tax jurisdiction or school district in which the home is located.

Disabled veterans. A veteran who is blind, paraplegic, or a double amputee, or has a 100% military-connected disability may be exempt from Pennsylvania property tax. It depends on the veteran’s economic need. The same exemption is available to the unmarried surviving spouse of such a veteran.

Senior citizens. Depending on your age and your spouse’s age, you may be eligible for a full or partial rebate of your property tax.

Accessible homes. If you renovate your home to make it more accessible to a person with a disability, you may qualify for a property tax credit of up to $2,500.

Although Pennsylvania laws set statewide property tax rules, your local government handles the administration and levying of the tax. So contact your local tax assessor for complete details on property tax exemptions. Be sure to ask about any forms you need to complete and the deadline for filing those forms. To get contact information for your tax assessor, call your county government office, or check the Pennsylvania assessor's website.

In addition to the property tax, which is based on the assessed value of your home, your tax bill may include special assessments. Typically these assessments are made to pay for improvements – such as street paving or repaving – in your neighborhood.

Depending on the complexity of your situation, you may want to seek legal help to reduce your Pennsylvania property tax. To find an experienced real estate lawyer in Pennsylvania, check out Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.

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