Monday, December 29, 2014

Reassessment shock hits Pittsburgh

Apparently the city of Pittsburgh, like Philadelphia, is in the midst of a property tax reassessment -- and is providing a cautionary tale about how frightening the process can be for taxpayers. The gentleman pictured to the right owns a parking space that was previously assessed at $5,000, and is now assessed at $287,800. More than his condo.

Reassessment shock hits Pittsburgh

Milesky in his very very valuable parking space.
Milesky in his very very valuable parking space.

Apparently the city of Pittsburgh, like Philadelphia, is in the midst of a property tax reassessment -- and is providing a cautionary tale about how frightening the process can be for taxpayers. The gentleman pictured to the right owns a parking space that was previously assessed at $5,000, and is now assessed at $287,800. More than his condo.

"If [the parking space] had a brand new Lamborghini on it, with $100,000 in a suitcase in the front seat, it wouldn't be worth that much," said Mr. Milesky, a real estate attorney with Penn Suburban Abstract, on Thursday. "I'll sell it for half that."

The parking space assessment is likely just a mistake (for this guy's sake, we hope so). But a) it's not a pleasant mistake if you're the one paying taxes on the space, and b) the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says lots of property owners are asking questions about their new assessments:

All over Pittsburgh Thursday, property owners were asking: Why does the county think my land has doubled, tripled, or more in value, even when my building appreciated only modestly?

This is not an argument against reassessment, which, at least in Philly, needs to be done. But it certainly reinforces Holly's description of the tax assessor as the scariest man in town.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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