Tax Saving Measures

An assessment appeal might work for you

Since 2008, properties whose values seemed to be roughly equal to the size of their mortgages at that time may now seem to be worth less than their mortgages. If you sense that your current assessment is out-of-whack, you may petition the York County Tax Assessment Board for a re-assessment. Depending upon the board’s finding, this may result in a reduction in the assessed value of your home, and, therefore, a reduction in your property tax bills. Visit the county assessment office for more information.

You may be eligible for the state's homestead tax reduction if the city home or condo that you own is your primary residence

We are concerned to learn that some city home-owners who live in their homes have not applied for this reduction, which can make a major difference in your overall property tax obligation. Condo owners are eligible as well.

The Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of Special Session 1 of 2006, was signed into on June 27, 2006. The Taxpayer Relief Act provides for property tax reduction allocations to be distributed by the Commonwealth to each school district. Property tax reduction will be through a “homestead or farmstead exclusion.” Generally, most owner occupied homes and farms are eligible for property tax reduction. Only a primary residence is eligible for property tax relief.

Actual tax reductions vary from school district to school district, based on a state-created formula for distribution of the slot machine money. It ranges from $79 in West Shore to $490 in York City. The homestead tax relief is for all homeowners, regardless of income. The rebate you receive changes by the municipality in which you live. City properties receive a higher rebate than suburban, for instance. The Homestead definition generally includes one’s primary residence. Condos are included. One only needs to stop by the Assessment office at the County Administration Building at 28 E. Market Street to complete the very simple application. Or you can call the assessment office at 717-771-9232.

Understand the breakdown and proportions of your local property taxes, and share the facts with your family, friends and neighbors

Of your property taxes, based on rates as of June of 2012, approximately 56% goes to the School District of the City of York, 37% to the City, and 7% to the County of York. Each of the three taxes is governed by a totally distinct governmental entity, namely the York City School Board, the City of York, with a City Council and executive branch, and the York County Board of Commissioners.

Be aware of which governing bodies are accountable for your different property taxes, and share the facts with your family, friends and neighbors

Having the right information can channel the right reform efforts at the state level. We are often surprised by how much misinformation exists regarding our citizens’ local property tax bills. Unfortunately, some think, suggest, or perpetuate the myth that the City of York has control or influence over the tax rates of the School District of the City of York. Perhaps this myth endures because the City of York tax collector collects city as well as school district taxes. The fact remains that our city government’s legislative and executive branches only approve city municipal property tax rates each year. They have no control over the school district tax rate, and vice versa.

We believe that the property tax system in Pennsylvania is broken and in dire need of reform. Attending meetings and sharing your concerns publicly with the right officials is a good start. Specifically, our state elected officials MUST do something about the property tax situation in our Commonwealth. I encourage you to be civil and principled, but bold and loud. Call your state elected officials and tell them what impact the antiquated property tax laws have on you and your community. We need bright, vocal residents like you to join the cause and speak up to the officials who have the most impact on your local property taxes. It would not take a lot of time, but could pay big dividends for you, your family, and our community.

Learn more about a realistic, long-term solution to our property tax burdens, House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act. It would be a good place for thoughtful debate on how to reform property taxes so city homeowners and all city property owners have predictable tax rates

All states in our nation have property taxes, and we believe that property taxes should be reserved for their historic function – funding local governments. But we also believe reform can reduce the burden of school property taxes – the biggest chunk of your property tax bill each year – and one of the most unpredictable taxes.

The following article, written by non-partisan experts on Pennsylvania politics, endorses a bill by State Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks) and co-sponsored or supported by most members of York County’s legislative delegation, which would replace the school district property tax with a modest increase in the state personal income tax and sales and use tax. Property taxes would still be in place for their intended historic function — funding municipal governments.

The link below outlines the bill’s contents and effects. It also provides a tax bill calculator to show what your new tax bill would be if the bill were passed into law. The link also provides an online petition that you can sign to support the bill. 

If House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76 would pass, the property taxes incurred by our city homeowners primarily would be county and city municipal property taxes, both of which are more manageable and predictable over time.

If this bill or a similar version would pass, based on current rates, a household owning a city house assessed at $100,000 who makes $50,000 per year would see a net tax reduction, even after adjusting for increases in state personal income tax and sales and use tax purchases, of about $2,485 on his or her tax bill. That would be a whopping 45% reduction in that household’s total property tax bill.

To find out how much you would save, visit

Sadly, the Senate Finance Committee recently voted to table this bill. Nevertheless, we will continue to advocate for reform. As pointed out above but not widely acknowledged enough, school district property taxes currently are about 56% of a city taxpayer’s property tax bill. Greatly reducing the school property tax burden would go a long way to stabilize the property values homeowners throughout the city, retain and attract new homeowners and condo owners in our city, and attract new investment and commercial and retail development to our city and and other cities throughout the Commonwealth.

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