Assessment Appeals

Assessment

The ABC’s of Property Taxes
by Jo Ellen Litz

Dan Seaman and his staff are ready to assist you in the Assessment office.

In 2013, Lebanon County underwent a court-ordered reassessment. For up to date information, please visit the County web page. http://www.lebcounty.org/Assessment/Pages/ReAssessment.aspx With the code that comes with your county real estate tax, you can view your assessment records on line. Using your assessment, you can figure what your house might sell for on the real estate market.  The technical term is Common Level Ratio

Assessment appeals are not to appeal your taxes, but to appeal the assessed value of your home or business.  If you feel your assessment is too high, appeals can be filed by September 1 of each year in the Assessment Office at the Municipal Building.   Successful appeals before the County Commissioners compare lot size, age, square footage of buildings and quality of construction with other buildings and properties in the neighborhoodPictures are helpful.

We try to make taxpayers feel at ease.  You can represent yourself by researching and making a list using the books and computer in the assessment office at the Municipal Building or by hiring an appraiser to value your home based upon comparable sales in the neighborhood.  However, if you are unable to attend in person, since this is a hearing that can be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, only an attorney can legally represent you.  

Also, IF you choose to get a professional appraisal, so our staff can review the figures and references, be sure to submit the appraisal at least ten days before your hearing.

PS:  The Earned Income Tax Bureau does not fall under the supervision of the county commissioners.  Rather, the Lebanon EIT Bureau board of directors is comprised of two school board members from each of Lebanon County’s School Districts:  Annville Cleona, Cornwall Lebanon, Easter Lebanon, Lebanon, Palmyra, and Northern Lebanon.  Likewise, tax collected by the Lebanon EIT Bureau supports public schools, not the County of Lebanon. 

–Currently, no one is penalized with back taxes for unobtained building permits, but if you or a previous owner added items like an enclosed porch or central air conditioning, your assessment will be brought into line with your neighbors.  This helps to ensure tax fairness between new and old buildings.  An improvement value must total $250 or more before a change is registered.    Also, any square footage errors are corrected.   Measurements are on the outside of buildings.  Demolition of a building is always removed after the assessment office is notified. For your information, an Interim Tax Billing is done in September for new houses, additions and improvements.  
The 1st Bill in March is for your County & Municipality Real Estate Taxes 
–Schools seldom pay for a reassessment, but benefit the most.
–Comparable values of homes in a neighborhood hold true in assessment hearings.
–Common level ratio helps to figure your fair market value.  Example:  Divide the assessment by .168 or multiply by 5.95.
An assessment is an arbitrary number, not an exact science.  Two different appraisers will usually come up with two different figures.  A conservative appraisal might be given to a bank to know how much money to lend you while you may hire an appraiser to help figure out at what price to list and sell your home. This appraisal will no doubt come in higher. 

–Market & economy fluctuates.  The value in 6 months may be higher or lower.  The law allows a 15% fluctuation window.

Even after a reassessment, there is no guarantee to fall within the 15% window.
–It’s a myth that older home owners don’t pay their fair share of taxes.  There are usually obsolete or less than energy efficient rooms in older homes.  Therefore, in my opinion, the value reflects depreciation for age and use. For example, if City millage  is 20.67  (.001*$20,000*10.335) =  $206.70

2nd Bill August School Tax School millage 143 (.001*20,000*71.5) = $1430.00Total Yearly Property Taxes $1704.70**
A mill is equal to 1/10 cent (1/1000 of a dollar).  Every year, local government officials and school boards review their budget.  A vote is taken to retain, reduce or increase the millage which ultimately retains, reduces or raises your taxes.

Lebanon County is 363 square miles consisting of 53,000 households.  The current  estimated population is 130,000.  Some Larger taxpayers by assessed property value: 

TaxpayerType of Business 1999 Assessed Value

  • MTM Development Corp (SID Tool)Warehouse Distribution$2,361,600
  • Rosenfeld, Samuel etalLebanon Plaza Shopping Center$1,900,750
  • Lebanon Valley MallShopping Center$1,600,200
  • Cornwall Manor of the United Church HomeRetirement Village$1,300,900
  • Lebanon Valley Brethren HomeRetirement Village$1,241,950
  • ALCOA Lebanon WorksAluminum Manufacturer$1,171,900
  • Grace CommunityRetirement Village$1,119,250
  • AMP Inc.Electronic Manufacturer$1,100,150
  • Boscov’s AssociatesShopping Center$1,016,200
  • Wal-Mart Stores 2023Retail Store$971,950
  • Walter H Weaber Sons, Inc
  • Lumber Manufacturer$874,950

TOTAL $14,659,800