Wasn’t the BRT abolished? What does it have to do with new assessments?

Some readers want to know: “What does the Board of Revision of Taxes have to do with Philadelphia’s new property assessments? Wasn’t it done away with?”

The BRT lives, despite Mayor Michael Nutter’s attempts to kill it, and will play an important in the Actual Value Initiative transition. It will hear appeals from taxpayers who decide to challenge their new assessments.

The BRT is the agency that used to conduct property assessments and hear assessment appeals. Its members are appointed by Common Pleas judges in the city, and it was long criticized as a haven of patronageand favoritism.

In 2010, at the urging of Nutter and with the approval of City Council, city voters approved a referendum abolishing the BRT, and giving its appeals function to a new board. But BRT members challenged the move in court, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the board would continue to hear property assessment appeals. The BRT did lose its other function, assessing properties, to the Office of Property Assessment, a new unit in the city’s finance department.

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So if you have a problem with your new AVI assessment, your first step is to make an informal appeal with the Office of Property  Assessment. There’s a form to fill out that should have come with your new assessment, and you must file by March 31. Details are available on the OPA website.

If you still aren’t satisfied, you have until October to file a formal appeal, which will be heard by the old BRT.

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