The Monkey spoke to groups twice this week about Pennsylvania Real Estate Tax Appeals. “Common Level Ratio” (CLR) questions are asked the most. As promised, the following post is the ABC’s of the CLR.

The Pennsylvania Constitution requires uniformity of taxation. The Courts have consistently held that real estate taxation must be consistent across all classes of counties and municipalities. To accomplish that, the State Legislature did two things. They created the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) and defined how assessed values would be determined.

The STEB’s “… primary function is to determine the aggregate market value of taxable real property in each political subdivision and school district throughout Pennsylvania. The market values are certified annually to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the respective school districts on or before July 1 of each year. These market values are used in a legislative formula that determines the distribution of the state subsidies to each school district. Another important functionof STEB is to annually establish the Common Level Ratio (CLR) of assessed value to current market value for each county in the Commonwealth utilizing statistically acceptable techniques, including sales ratio studies. STEB is required to publicly disclose its methodology in computing the ratios and publish this information in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Prior to July 1 in every year, STEB must certify the CLR ratio to the chief assessor of each county.” https://dced.pa.gov/local-government/boards-committees/tax-equalization-division/ (April 12, 2018).

In layman’s terms, the STEB attempts to equalize school taxes between all the counties in the Commonwealth by using a complex equation based on various factors. These details are not important to this post, but can be found below at the website cited above. Only two facts are apropos to this this conversation. First, the CLR may move up or down by as much as two tenths of a percentage every year without any elected body approving the tax increase or reduction; and two, over the years the fluctuations in the CLR has not kept pacing with the actual fluctuating property values county to county.  The exception to that rule is if there is a county-wide reassessment . Then the year immediately following the county-wide reassessment the CLR is 1.0.  The following year the CLR adjustment applies. A list of the 2017 CLR’s by county follows.

The second factor is how market values are determined. For assessment purposes, the actual value of the property is determined by its market worth during the assessment base year (the year of the last county-wide assessment). The market value is the competitive price for which a home would sell for in an arm’s length transaction to a buyer who wants to purchase the property and a seller who want to sell the property.

It sounds more complicated than it is. So, to make the tax appeal process easier, below is the CLR for every county in Pennsylvania. These values will change on July 1, 2018.

Common Level Ratio By Pennsylvania County

County                             CLR                  County                                      CLR

Adams                            0.86                   Dauphin                                   1.37
Allegheny                       1.14                    Delaware                                 1.64
Armstrong                     2.11                    Elk                                              2.25
Beaver                             3.83                  Erie                                            1.07
Bedford                           1.08                  Fayette                                    1.40
Berks                                1.38                  Forest                                      4.74
Blair                                   7.09                 Franklin                                   7.63
Bradford                         3.08                 Fulton                                       2.54
Bucks                               9.17                   Greene                                    1.48
Butler                               9.26                   Huntingdon                          3.8.                   Cambria                          4.13                    Indiana                                   0.92               Cameron                          1.81                   Jefferson                                2.29
Carbon                             2.07                   Juniata                                      6.49
Centre                              3.56                   Lackawanna                          6.67
Chester                             1.89                   Lancaster                                1.36
Clarion                              2.18                    Lawrence                                 1.20
Clearfield                         6.29                  Lebanon                                  0.96
Clinton                               1.17                    Lehigh                                      1.04
Columbia                          3.91                    Luzerne                                   0.97
Crawford                          2.71                    Lycoming                                1.32.       Cumberland                    1.02                   McKean                                    1.09
Mercer                               3.55                  Wayne                                       1.09
Mifflin                                 2.15                   Westmoreland                     6.17               Monroe                              4.35                  Wyoming                                5.62
Montgomery                   1.85                   York                                           1.15
Montour                             1.26
Northampton                  3.01
Northumberland           3.72
Perry                                    1.05
Philadelphia                     1.01
Pike                                     4.33
Potter                                  2.79
Schuylkill                           2.18
Snyder                                5.68
Somerset                           2.44
Sullivan                                1.43
Susquehanna                   2.81
Tioga                                    1.36
Union                                    1.35
Venango                              1.19
Warren                                 3.12
Washington                       9.52

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