On November 27, 2007, Allegheny County Council passed an ordinance requiring the county's Office of Property Assessment (OPA) to review at least every three years the continued qualification for real estate tax exemption of all exempt properties in the County under the Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act. The charity act explicitly permits such periodic re-evaluations.
The OPA may conclude that all, none, or a portion of a property continues to qualify for exemption. Both taxpayers and taxing bodies will have the right to appeal the OPA's determination to the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review.
By requiring periodic "charitable use reviews" and allowing taxing bodies to challenge the outcome of these reviews, the ordinance gives taxing bodies a number of new opportunities to challenge a property's tax-exempt status — even where the OPA, the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review or the Pennsylvania courts previously approved such status and no facts have changed.
Allegheny County has not yet developed a questionnaire or procedure to conduct the "charitable use reviews." Owners of tax-exempt property may benefit from the assistance of counsel in responding to any request for information in connection with the OPA's "charitable use reviews."
Please call any of our Real Estate attorneys if you would like to discuss the new ordinance and how it may affect your business.