Timing of property tax re-assessments a matter of politics, not law

    Following Dave Davies’ coverage of Philadelphia’s property tax assessment overhaul, a reader wants to know if there is a legal reason why the city is required to determine the actual value of all properties this year.

    WHYY’s Dave Davies has been trying to stay ahead of a complicated property tax assessment overhaul in Philadelphia. As he explains, the Actual Value Initiative solution aims to give every property in the city a uniform value, something like its real market price, and tax that value. 

    A reader wrote in with the following:

    Thanks for your coverage. My understanding was that the city is required by law to determine actual value this year. Is this the case? If so, is it a state law, city law, or judicial opinion that requires this.

    Davies did some digging and cmae back with this:

    I know of no legal requirement that the city complete its actual value initiative this year. The state constitution requires counties to assess properties accurately and consistently, but that’s nothing new. And I know of no court case (and I checked other folks on this) that would require immediate action.

    The State Tax Equalization Board’s finding last August that the city’s valuations are seriously out of whack does pose a financial risk to the city, and that’s one reason the city finance director believes it’s imperative to complete the initiative this year. But it’s really a matter of policy and politics, not law.

    We sure hope this helps. Thanks for asking and thanks for reading.

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