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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 13, 2017 11:51 AM
From: Representative Warren Kampf
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation regarding School District Spot Appeals
In the near future, I will introduce legislation that would eliminate the practice now used by some school districts to file spot appeals of the property tax assessments of individual properties. A significant number of school districts now routinely appeal the county assessments of individual properties to increase the revenue they use to balance their budgets. Much of the money achieved through these spot assessments, however, is paid to third-party bounty hunters who take a finder’s fee for identifying the best properties to target. These spot appeals are of properties where no improvement has occurred, or any change by the county assessor has happened.

The origin of this practice is our Pennsylvania courts which have in some recent cases approved spot appeals despite our own Uniformity Clause in the Pennsylvania Constitution and years of earlier court precedent declaring that “spot appeals” were not allowed.

The practice literally has the effect in some cases of hammering a property owner with a huge tax increase after he has decided to buy the property and participate in our state economy. It strikes me as one of the most anti-competitive government practices in existence today.

School districts are likewise engaged in the practice of appealing a county assessor’s decision on the value of a property after it has been improved by the landowner. In many situations, this practice has resulted in much the same outcome as with spot appeals. While not prohibiting the practice, the bill will provide better parameters for the school district’s appeal of the amount of a re-assessment after some improvement has occurred.

Together, these two practices create an anti-competitive landscape in our Commonwealth, send the clear signal that Pennsylvania is not open for business, and end up punishing property owners, renters, retailers and lessees. My bill will seek to improve this situation.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB1213