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Allegheny County Council to consider change to property assessment appeals deadline

House for sale sign in Friendship.
Jakob Lazzaro
90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council will consider an ordinance to alter the calendar for appealing property-tax assessments – a move that supporters say will help taxpayers and local officials alike.

The bill, introduced by Councilor Sam DeMarco Tuesday, would accelerate the deadline for filing such an appeal. For years in which no countywide reassessment takes place, appeals would have to be filed the previous fall: In most years that would be the first business day of September, but if the legislation passes, appeals for the 2025 tax year would have to be filed by October 1 of this year.

In years when a reassessment occurs, property owners or taxing bodies would be required to file an appeal within 60 days of being told a property’s assessed value had changed.

“I'm trying to help both the taxpayers and the municipalities and provide some degree of certainty for when they develop their budgets and for when taxpayers receive their tax bills and have to submit payment,” DeMarco said.

This year as in many previous years, the window for appeals closed on April 1 — after most initial city and county tax bills had been sent to property owners, some of whom had already paid. If the county’s Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review later reduces the home value, it often means taxing bodies must pay out a refund. That means taxpayers are handing over money just to get it back later, said Michael Suley, who sits on the board.

“We pay taxes on bad assessments, and then we have to wait after the fact to resolve them,” he said.

Experts who spoke with WESA said the current system also works poorly for local officials, who have to compile budgets based on faulty revenue estimates, and then get blindsided by revenues once the fiscal year is underway.

“This is to give them some predictability going forward,” said Eric Montarti, the research director for the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.

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The value of the downtown tax base alone has plunged by $448 million in recent months. The Tower at PNC Plaza, the U.S. Steel Tower and Three Gateway Center all won appeals, which resulted in about $200 million less tax revenue for the county, city, and the city’s school district. According to Pittsburgh Public Schools officials, the lowered assessments could force the district to return as much as $20 million.

Shifting the appeal deadline could put a slight burden on taxpayers who are used to filing appeals in the spring, Suley acknowledged.

“Everyone has to get on board that the appeals deadline for next year is this year,” he said, adding that “the county has a responsibility to get the message out” if the bill is approved.

But experts say changing the appeals timeline would also bring Allegheny in line with the commonwealth’s 66 other counties, all of which require appeals to be filed prior to the start of the tax year.

“Everybody's been talking about the downtown central business district tax refunds — there would be no refunds if we had been on a prospective appeals calendar like the other counties,” Suley said.

DeMarco called the bill a “common sense” answer to the uncertainty surrounding reassessments in Allegheny County. Pittsburgh Public Schools sued the county in April, seeking a court-ordered countywide property reassessment. But such lawsuits (including those that prompted the last reassessment in 2012) can take years to wind their way through the court system.

This isn’t the first time County Council has weighed in on the property assessments. Council has previously approved extending the yearly appeal deadline, allowing taxpayers a second chance to challenge their assessments. And council member Bethany Hallam has introduced a bill that would require regular reassessments.

DeMarco’s bill was referred to the council's committee on assessment practices.

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at