ICSC has been in contact with Pennsylvania members who have been victimized by a practice known as “spot appeals” on county property tax assessments. As a result, ICSC has joined a coalition of organizations supporting policies that eliminate or sets rules and parameters for appealing the assessment of a property. 

In Pennsylvania, municipalities, counties and school districts are allowed to file “spot appeals” challenging property tax assessments of individual properties.  As budgets have shrunk, school districts now routinely appeal the county assessments of individual properties to increase the revenue they use to balance their budgets.  However, much of the money achieved through these spot assessments is paid to third-party “bounty hunters” who take a finder’s fee for identifying the best properties to target.  This has resulted in a cottage industry that has negatively impacted the real estate industry.   

For many years, Pennsylvania Courts have ruled against the legality of “spot assessments.” Unfortunately, there have been recent cases where the courts have ruled in favor of the legality of “spot assessments,” which has resulted in ambiguity in the law. Our members are increasingly concerned that if something is not done legislatively, consumers will experience higher costs at the register that will increase traffic to online retailers, and future sales of properties may be slowed or impacted due to the fear of significant increases in property taxes after the sales transaction. As a result ICSC is supporting Representative Warren Kampf’s legislation to address this practice. 

As currently drafted, the bill would bar school districts, municipalities and counties from filing an assessment appeal based on the sale of a property; a financing or refinancing of a property; or investments that involve safety elements or are required by fair housing or disability regulations or laws.  In addition, taxing body appeals would be limited to specific times or when changes in use occur at the property. 

In addition to ICSC, the following organizations are supporting Rep. Kampf’s legislation:

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Pennsylvania Apartment Association, Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, Pennsylvania Bankers Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, Pennsylvania Retailers' Association, Americans for Prosperity, BET Investments, Equus partners, Liberty Property Trust, Morgan Properties, Simon Property Group, L.P., the Westover Companies, Walmart, and Wegmans.

For additional information, please contact Stephen Burm at sburm@icsc.org