Client Update: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Has Found the School District Practice of Selective Assessment Appeals Unconstitutional

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an opinion today in Valley Forge Towers Apartments N, LP, et al. v. Upper Merion Area School District, et al. deciding that taxing authorities are not permitted to selectively appeal only the assessments of commercial properties, such as apartment complexes, while choosing not to appeal the assessments of other types of property, such as residential properties.

 

The Supreme Court held that the statute which permits taxing authorities, such as the school districts, to file assessment appeals, is valid.  Nevertheless, that authority violates the Pennsylvania Constitution if the district chooses to selectively challenge one classification of property to the exclusion of others.

 

The Upper Merion School District had argued that there was no violation of the Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution where the School District evaluated the properties within its district and pursued appeals only where it made economic sense to do so.    The School District chose only to challenge commercial property assessments.  Commercial property owners argued that this practice unfairly and unconstitutionally targeted only commercial properties, to the exclusion of underassessed residential properties, and the Supreme Court agreed.

 

This decision may have a far reaching impact on the school districts’ current practice of filing appeals on commercial properties, particularly those recently the subject of a sale.  Please contact Jane Richardson at (610) 458-4400 with questions or for more information.

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