With the commercial real estate market still feeling the effects of the Great Recession, many small business owners in Pennsylvania are choosing to appeal their property tax assessments in the hopes of lowering their tax burdens and improving profitability. In some cases, business owners are able to reduce their tax liability by thousands of dollars as a result of filing a successful appeal of a real estate assessment.

Commercial property taxes, like residential property taxes, are based on the assessed value of the property in question. Because assessments are typically conducted just once every several years, Pennsylvania business owners may end up paying more than they should for their property taxes if the value of the property has declined since the last assessment.

Property owner bears burden of proof for tax appeal

Real estate assessment laws in Pennsylvania require that property must be assessed according to its market value, which is defined as the price that a willing buyer would pay on the open marketplace.

When a business owner wishes to appeal a property tax assessment, he or she bears the burden of proving that the assessed value exceeds the fair market value of the property. In order to succeed on appeal, the business owner must present sufficient, credible and relevant evidence of the property's actual value. Many Pennsylvania property owners choose to work with an attorney to help ensure that their property assessment appeal is conducted thoroughly and persuasively.

In addition to constant market fluctuations, there are other factors that can result in an inaccurate real estate assessment. In some cases, the assessment may be flawed due to relatively simple errors such as a failure to accurately account for things like construction costs or depreciation. In other cases, the property owner may be required to present evidence on more complicated issues, for instance by demonstrating that there are errors in the assessed profit potential of the property, or that the values of comparable properties in the area have been calculated incorrectly.

Legal help for Pennsylvania property tax appeals

Pennsylvania business owners who have questions about their property tax liability may wish to speak with a lawyer about the possibility of filing an appeal. An attorney with experience helping business owners reduce their property tax liability can work with clients to obtain a detailed and accurate understanding of the property's value, and will advocate vigorously in front of the court or county agency to reduce the client's tax burden.