Difference Between Defective Assessment of Property and Defective Appeals
In Vees v. Carbon County Bd. of Assessment Appeals, 867 A.2d 742 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005), a school district appealed the assessment of a property.
The property was selected for appeal because it had been sold for an amount significantly in excess of the fair market value set during a recent county-wide reassessment.
When the school district was successful in its appeal to the board of assessment appeals, the property owners appealed to the trial court.
The property owners did not challenge the constitutionality of any statutory provision, but they contended the manner in which the school district selected their property for appeal resulted in an improper spot assessment offensive to the Uniformity Clause and equal protection guarantee.
In the discussion the Court drew a critical distinction between those situations dealing with allegedly defective assessments by an entity clothed with the power to assess, and those situations dealing with allegedly defective appeals.
As to the latter, the Court examined statutory provisions allowing school districts the same appeal rights as property owners and cases applying the statutory provisions.
The Court held that application of the statutory provisions for tax appeals available uniformly to all interested parties did not offend the Uniformity Clause, particularly in the absence of a constitutional challenge to the underlying statute.
Specifically, the Court concluded:
As a matter of law, the School District's use of the statutory appeal mechanism available uniformly to all interested parties does not amount to deliberate, purposeful discrimination.
This is especially true here, because Taxpayers do not challenge the constitutionality of the statutory provision allowing school districts the same appeal rights as property owners.
Moreover, pursuant to Millcreek Township Sch. Dist. v. Erie County Bd. of Assessment Appeals, 737 A.2d 335 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1999) the filing of a tax assessment appeal by a school district does not amount to an improper spot assessment. Vees, 867 A.2d at 749.