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Appealing your Adams County Tax Assessment?

Note: I am still researching the legal ramifications of the Cost Level Ratio and how it applies to Reassessment Appeals. I will keep you abreast of my findings.

Updated 9/9/10 - I sat in on some Formal Appeals. My observations include:

  1. The Appeals Board seems to be made up of REAL people. They probably are much like anyone else and are affected by this as much as we are. They mostly seemed cordial and nice.

  2. I saw Commissioner Weikert sitting on one of them although I was not able to observe any of his proceedings. I doubt that he would be as accommodating as the others since he has some "skin" in this whole process.

  3. There is a representative from 21st Century Appraisals also present. I am not sure if he/she is there during the deliberations afterwards but I would want the same access as they receive. After all, 21st Century Appraisals is on the other side of the track. They want to defend their position as you need to defend yours! They should NOT be allowed during deliberations after the evidence is presented! If they have access and you don't, your rights to Due Process may have been violated!

  4. Comps are all important! You need to show how your property compares to others in your neighborhood. The appellants from the hearings I observed seemed a little unprepared. Most were elderly, and one couple had a recreational property they deemed was assessed too high for a seasonal escape. This property had no road frontage and was very remote. They stated they would probably have to liquidate the property.

  5. 21 Century Appraisals CEO Gene Porterfield SHOULD NOT have been allowed to advise the Boards. Sure seems like a conflict of interest to me. They should have had some real LEGAL counsel!


    Besides, Mr. Porterfield did not instruct them properly. He said, "It is not up to you to judge whether the value is right or wrong, it is up to you to judge whether the proper data was used to set the value. Wrong again, Mr. Porterfield! Matter of fact, Pennsylvania Reassessment Law states:


    (b) In any appeal of an assessment the board shall make the following determinations:


    (1) The market value as of the date such appeal was filed before the board.


    (2) The common level ratio published by the State Tax Equalization Board on or before July 1 of the year prior to the tax year being appealed to the board.

There's more if you'd like to read the entire legal assessment appeal statute.


As you can see, the very first thing an Appeals Board is to do is to establish the Fair Market Value! If you're wondering about 21st Century's data...take a look at these Assessed land value comparisons per square footage!

For Adams Countians fighting their re-assessments, download these helpful articles.

Pennsylvania Legislature's Newsletter regarding re-assessments (MUST READ)

Another article regarding reassessments (MUST READ)

The Legal decision of Clifton vs. Allegheny (6mb) (The "base year" approach to reassessments was ruled unconstitutional)

Reassessment Board Guidelines

Strategy for fighting your Assessment:

  1. If you have vacant parcels of ground (especially those that aren't buildable), negotiate these first! 21st Century & municipal officials have already publicly admitted these are not accurate.

  2. Cast doubt on the competency of 21st Century Appraisals. Use everything you can get to paint them as nincompoops (I like that word). Use the fact that they screwed up the vacant, unbuildable lots as a starting point. Once you establish that, use their public admissions against them. Tim Barr said publicly several times that they use a 4 year average to determine property values. THIS is NOT true! They can only use a "base" year, or the current year. Either he misled us intentionally, or he is misinformed...and he does this for a living! Mr. Gene Porterfield, CEO of 21st Century Appraisals, even publicly said that Mass Appraisals are "Flawed at Best"!

  3. Question the qualifications of those who conducted the appraisal process. Who visited your property? Did they have the proper credentials to be credible? Did you know that Tim Barr, vice president, 21st Century Appraisals, is not a Certified Pennsylvania Evaluator, and never has been, as required by Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers.

  4. Have your Comps and or Appraisals ready! This is easily the most important thing you need to do! Find recent sales in your neighborhood that show what the current Market Values really are! The comps don't have to be identical to yours, they just have to be similar in style, age, square footage etc.

  5. They've only set aside 15 minutes for your presentation to prove your case. It may take longer than that. If they fail to give you adequate time to state your case, they have violated your constitutional right to Due Process. Be sure to remind them if you need more time!

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