The purpose of real estate assessments is to fairly distribute a municipality’s tax burden among all property owners based on the market value of their property.  Chester County PA real estate is assessed (generally tax cutannually) so that the costs associated with area schools, fire and police protection, and other necessary services and infrastructure can be allocated in proportion to the market value of individual properties.

Even as property values are on the decline, property taxes are on the rise nationwide, and, according to the National Taxpayers Union, as many as 60 percent of properties across the country are over-assessed.

So what is the owner of Chester County PA real estate to do?  According to those “in the know”, there are steps you can take to reduce the assessment of your property’s value.  Since the evaluation process begins in the spring, you would be wise to begin to take action in the following ways now:

  • Request Your Property and Tax Record: you can request copies of your tax records at any time to check for a poorly conducted assessment or misinformation. To obtain a copy of your property tax records, simply visit your local planning board.
  • Don't Build:  Any structural changes to a home or property will increase your tax bill.
  • Limit Curb Appeal:  in spite of strict guidelines for the actual evaluation process, the assessment still contains a certain amount of subjectivity. Thus, more attractive homes often receive a higher assessed value than comparable Chester County PA real estate that is less physically appealing.
  • Research Comparable Properties: you have the right to know what similar homes and lots are being assessed for each year. (Check your municipality’s public records,)  If you see a major difference in the amount you are paying, it’s time to find out why.
  • Appeal any Discrepancies in Your Tax Bill:  check measurements, location, property value, or structures of your home and lot. Take the time to legally appeal your bill and request that it be adjusted if you find errors.
  • Investigate exemption eligibilitymany states offer generous property tax exemptions to both older homeowners and the disabled.  Certain military veterans and owners who install energy-efficient systems may also qualify.  It pays to check with your local tax assessor’s office for other exemption categories.

The bottom line.  Don't assume that your tax bill is set in stone. A little homework and due diligence can help reduce the burden.