Cozen O’Connor: Tax Assessment Remanded for Findings [Tax Alert]

Tax Assessment Remanded for Findings

Tax Alert

December 5, 2013

A panel of the Commonwealth Court reversed and remanded for further findings several assessments determined by a trial court. In re appeal of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, No. 159 C.D. 2013 (Pa Commw. Oct. 30, 2013). The property was approximately 229 acres formerly used for the manufacture of munitions and certain other industrial activities. The property had significant continuing environmental problems. The Commonwealth Court reversed for several reasons. The trial court did not correctly apply the applicable section of the assessment law regarding the common level ratio to be applied in tax appeals. The trial court approved a percentage discount to what would otherwise be the value of the real estate based on what the panel categorized essentially a guess on the part of the appraiser as to the impact of the environmental problems on market value. The appraiser improperly valued the property based on judgments about whether the property could be subdivided and what it could be converted into. Citing prior cases, the panel held that the property must be valued as is, not with respect to a conjectural value after subdivision and improvement. A dissent would have affirmed on the grounds that it was within the purview of the trial court to make judgments on the appraiser’s treatment of the environmental and future use issues.


Authors

Joseph C. Bright

Member

jbright@cozen.com

(215) 665-2053

Dan A. Schulder

Member

dschulder@cozen.com

(717) 703-5905

Cheryl A. Upham

Member

cupham@cozen.com

(215) 665-4193

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To discuss any questions you may have regarding the opinion discussed in this Alert, or how it may apply to your particular circumstances, please contact: Joseph C. Bright at jbright@cozen.com or 215.665.205, Dan A. Schulder at dschulder@cozen.com or 717.703.5905 or Cheryl A. Upham at cupham@cozen.com or 215.665.4193.