Tax Assessment Appeals

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NOTICE: THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING REASSESSMENT APPEAL FORMS TO THE LUZERNE COUNTY PROTHONOTARY'S OFFICE IS 30 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF YOUR NEW VALUATION (THE RESULT OF YOUR FORMAL APPEAL). ALL FORMS RESPONDING TO THE VALUATION MAILING MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE PROTHONOTARY'S OFFICE WITHIN THE 30-DAY WINDOW. ANY INFORMATION POSTMARKED AFTER THE 30-DAY DEADLINE AND RECEIVED AT A LATER DATE WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED!

Tax Assessment Appeal Process
 
 
Luzerne County Local Rule of Civil Procedure 1038, as amended by Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County dated June 25, 2008, November 6, 2008, March 11, 2009, and May 7, 2009, sets forth the process for appeals from tax assessment of real estate. 
 
In an effort to ease the burden on parties appealing tax assessments, the Prothonotary and Tax Assessment Offices have set forth this summary of the appeal procedure.
 
Step 1.    Notice of Formal Assessment Received by Taxpayer
 
Step 2.    Within 30 days of the date of mailing  (the date of mailing is shown on the Notice of Formal Assessment), Taxpayer must file a completed Petition for Appeal with the Luzerne County Prothonotary, along with a filing fee of $140.00 (cash, credit cards and money orders made payable to "Luzerne County Prothonotary" are all accepted).The form Petition for Appeal from the Decision of the Board of Assessment Appeals is available on our website at http://www.luzernecounty.org/county/row_offices/prothonotary/forms
 
Petitions may be filed by mail or in person. The Prothonotary maintains two offices and the Petitions may be filed at either office. The appealing party should file the original Petition (the Petition must contain the original signature of the appealing party) and have at least six copies which will be time-stamped by the Prothonotary’s Office. If this is done by mail, the appealing party must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of the time-stamped copies. The Prothonotary’s Office is located at:
 
Luzerne County Prothonotary                              Luzerne County Prothonotary
Luzerne County Courthouse                                Hazleton Annex
200 North River Street                           
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711                                ** Closed until further notice **                       
 
Hours of Operation:                                           
            Monday through Friday:                                      
            9:00am – 4:30pm                                               
           
The appealing party should send one copy of the Petition for Appeal to each of the parties listed in Step 3 and should maintain one time-stamped copy for his or her file. The copies do not need to be sent by certified mail. The Prothonotary will keep the original Petition and the Prothonotary will forward one copy of the Petition to Court Administration for the mediation process.
 
Step 3.    Certificate of Service. Appealing party must send a copy of the Petition for Appeal to all parties listed below. IN ORDER TO EXPEDITE THE POSSIBILITY OF A SETTLEMENT, THE APPEALING PARTY MAY ALSO PROVIDE COPIES OF APPRAISALS AND/OR COMPARABLES TO ATTORNEY SCHWAGER TOGETHER WITH A COPY OF THE PETITION.
 
              A.       Luzerne County Board of Assessment Appeals
                        Luzerne County Courthouse
                        200 North River Street
                        Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711-1001
 
              B.       David E. Schwager, Esquire
                        Solicitor to Luzerne County Board of Assessment Appeals
                        138 South Main Street
                        P.O. Box 910
                        Wilkes-Barre, PA 18703-0910
 
C.         The School District in which the property is located.
You can find addresses for Luzerne County School Districts at:
 
                D.     The City, Township or Borough in which the property is located 
                        You can find addresses for Luzerne County School Districts at
                        http://www.luzernecounty.org/living/municipalities
 
                The date on which the copies have been mailed should be indicated on the Certificate of Service and filed in the same manner set forth in Step 2. A form for the Certificate of Service is provided as the last page of Petition for Appeal.
 
Step 4.    Mandatory Mediation.  The mediation process is being handled by the office of Court Administration, Director of Specialty Courts.  The Prothonotary will forward a copy of the appealing party's Petition to the Director of Specialty Courts.  The Director of Specialty Courts will notify the appealing party of the date and location of the Mediation. It is recommended that the appealing party bring a certified real estate appraisal and/or comparable property values to support the property’s value.
 
Step 5.             After the expiration of sixty days from the date the original appeal petition was served, and after the pleadings in the case are closed, and whether or not mediation has occurred, any party may file a certificate of readiness with the Prothonotary and place the case at issue. The certificate shall classify the case as an assessment appeal and identify the nature of the property as residential or non-residential.
 
Step 6.             The Court Administrator shall compile a trial/conciliation list for each term and shall notify the parties at least ninety days prior to the beginning of the trial term in which the appeal is scheduled to be conciliated/ tried. 
 
Step 7.             If an appeal is placed on the trial/conciliation list, the following process will be followed pursuant to Luzerne County Local Rule 1038, Sections 4 through 6:               
 
4.                  Conciliation.
 
(a)                All appeals shall be conciliated before trial by a conciliation judge or special master assigned thereto.
(b)               At the time of conciliation, all parties or their counsel shall be present with full authority to effectuate a settlement of the appeal. Note: Parties and counsel are advised to pay particular attention to the notice of conciliation. In appropriate cases the conciliation and trial may be scheduled on the same day. In such instances, the parties must appear at the conciliation ready to move directly into trial if the conciliation does not result in settlement. 
(c)                If any party fails to comply with the provisions of this local rule, the court may impose sanctions or the special master may include in the report a recommendation for the imposition of appropriate sanctions, including but not limited to, attorneys’ fees and costs against the party or parties failing to comply. 
 
5.         Pre-Trial Statement.
 
(a)                Sixty days prior to the date scheduled for conciliation of tax assessment appeal, the appellant shall distribute to all counsel of record, or if counsel have not entered an appearance, on the party(ies), and to the court administrator a pre-trial statement. The pre-trial statement shall incorporate the following:
(i)                  a description of the use of the real estate and the nature of the real estate.
(ii)                a list of all persons who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal.
(iii)               a list of all exhibits which the party intends to use at trial.
(iv)              any report, including without limitation an expert report or appraisal, of any person or entity who has been retained, employed, or consulted by the parties, who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal. 
(b)               Twenty days prior to the date scheduled for conciliation of a tax assessment appeal, the appellee(s) shall distribute to all counsel of record, or if counsel have not entered an appearance, on the party(ies), and to the court administrator a pre-trial statement. The pre-trial statement shall incorporate the following information or documents:
(i)                  a description of the use of the real estate and the nature of the real estate.
(ii)                a list of all persons who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal.
(iii)               any report, including without limitation an expert report or appraisal, of any person or entity who has been retained, employed, or consulted by the parties, who will give testimony in the trial of this appeal.
(c)                All interested parties whose interests are aligned with the appellant shall distribute their Pre-Trial Statement in accordance with subsection (a) herein. All interested parties whose interests are aligned with the appellee(s) shall distribute their Pre-Trial Statement in accordance with subsection (b) herein.
(d)               The failure to comply with subsections (a), (b) and (c) of this local rule shall result in appropriate relief, which may include the exclusion or limitation at trial of testimony or evidence which was not provided in the pre-trial statement or a recommendation for the imposition of attorneys’ fees and costs against the party or parties failing to comply.
 
6.                  Trial By Special Master.
 
(a)    If a special master is assigned for trial, the special master shall schedule a trial and shall provide notice of the trial to all party(ies) and/or counsel of record. 
The trial shall be open to the public and recorded by a court reporter.
The special master, in the discretion of the special master, may continue the trial.
 
(b)   Report of Special Master.
Following the trial, the special master shall file a written report and recommendation which may be in narrative form stating the reasons for the recommendations and shall include a proposed final order. The special master shall serve a copy of the report and recommendation on all counsel of record of the party(ies), if not represented, by first class United States mail and the court administrator.  
 
(c)    Objections To Report and Recommendation of Special Master.
The parties shall file objections, if any, to the report and recommendation in writing within twenty days of the date of mailing of the report and recommendation by the special master. Objections must be accompanied by a certification of counsel that the trial transcript, or necessary portions thereof, has been ordered from the court reporter. Copies of the objections and certification shall be served on all counsel of record or if counsel have not entered their appearance on the party(ies), the special master and the court administrator. 
 
(d)   Briefs on Objections.
Within twenty days of the date on which the transcript is filed of record, the moving party shall file a brief in support of objections and shall serve a copy on all counsel of record or if counsel have not entered their appearance on the party(ies) and the court administrator. The brief in support of objections shall refer to transcript page numbers where possible. The moving party’s failure to file a brief in support of objections shall constitute a waiver of all issues which could have been raised therein.
 
(e)    Opposing Briefs.
Within twenty days after the moving party has filed a brief in support of objections, responding parties shall file their briefs in opposition to objections and serve a copy on all counsel of record or if counsel have not entered their appearance, on the party(ies), and the court administrator. 
 
(f)     Argument.
After the date set for briefs in opposition to objections has passed, the moving party shall notify the court administrator that the matter is ripe for argument by filing a notice that matter is ready for argument with the court administrator on the civil argument request form which shall be made available at the court administrator’s office. The moving party shall serve a copy of this notice on all counsel of record or if counsel have not entered their appearance on the party(ies). Upon the filing of this notice, the court shall schedule oral argument if requested by a party; otherwise, the matter shall be decided upon briefs. 
 
(g)    Final Order.
Following oral argument the court may enter an appropriate final order. In the event that none of the parties file objections as described above to the report and recommendation, the court shall enter a final order consistent with the report, recommendation and proposed final order submitted by the special master.
 
GENERAL REASSESSMENT INFO:
  
Direct link to Assessor's Office page.  
 
Our staff will assist you with any reassessment questions or concerns. Please be patient, as we are experiencing a high volume of calls.
There are nine factors that influence new assessed values:
 
  1. Exterior finish – stone, brick and log are the most valuable, followed by stucco, vinyl siding, etc…
  2. Square footage – measured from the outside of the structure.
  3. Number of stories – listed as one-story, bi-level, split-level, 1 ½ story, and two stories or more.
  4. Dwelling type – include detached (a free-standing single home), duplex, row home, townhome, multi-family apartments, double-wide mobile and single-wide mobile.
  5. Effective age – properties are included in one of five categories: a) 1953 and older; b) 1954 to 1964; c) 1965 to 1974; d) 1975 to 1990; e) 1991 to present.
  6. Property type – “R” for residential, “T” for mobile home without land, “L” for vacant lot, “V” for vacant land, “C” for commercial, and “I” for industrial.
  7. Acreage – 13 categories from slivers of 1,000 square feet or less to parcels 120 acres or more.
  8. Condition – The rankings are: unsound, very poor, poor, fair, average, good, very good and excellent.
  9. Quality – different from condition as the focus is on the design and construction of the home. The rankings are: A+ for exceptional; A for superior; B+ for enhances; B for improved; C+ for nice; C for average; D+ for acceptable; D for needs improvements; and D- for disrepair.

 
Last Updated: 07/08/14 13:38:43
Prothonotary
Luzerne County Seal