A trio of recently filed property tax challenges in Philadelphia signal the start of what attorneys say is a rising tide of litigation following a landmark Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional to selectively dispute assessments for high-value properties.

The declaratory judgment actions launched in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas challenge a move by the city to revalue a cross-section of commercial and institutional properties, which raised some $118 million in new tax revenue.

The lawsuits are part of what legal experts say is a growing torrent of litigation coming in the wake of a decision finding that the Pennsylvania Constitution’s guarantee on uniform taxation barred taxing authorities from conducting selective assessment appeals.

Matthew McClure, an attorney with Ballard Spahr LLP, agreed that challenges under Valley Forge were likely to come on many different fronts.

“Regardless of whether we’re dealing with a school district appeal or any sort of reassessment like we’re dealing with in Philadelphia right now, after Valley Forge, one can reasonably expect that any class of property that is being treated differently than another class of property will likely see a challenge,” he said.

What remains unclear, however, is the extent to which school districts and taxing authorities will be able to argue that they relied on rational, nondiscriminatory means to identify properties to target for assessment appeals or revaluation.

Read the full article here. Subscription may be required.

Related Practice