Lancaster OnlineLancaster County recently discussed the property tax rates for the 2018-19 tax year for all Lancaster County school districts. Since your school tax is usually much larger than the municipal and county tax, the increase in the school tax rate is going to account for the majority of the increase in your property taxes. With this information, you can start to determine how your property tax reassessment will affect you.

If you live in the Hempfield School District, for example, the 2018-19 school tax millage will be 20.33.  Even if the municipal and county taxes remain the same, a change in the assessed value of your property will mean an increase in your property taxes.  For example, if the value of your property in the Hempfield School District was increased by $100,000.00, your taxes will increase at least $2,033.00 per year.  Because most school districts increase their tax rates every year (unless you live in the Manheim Central School District, anyway), the effect that your reassessment will have on taxes will get greater every year.

Aaron Marines is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas including Commercial Real EstateLand Use, Land Planning and Zoning matters.

I continue to talk to friends and neighbors and clients who are confused, concerned, annoyed or worried about the reassessment and what it means for their future tax bills.  I’ve heard a lot of people say that the assessors are off their rockers if they think their home’s value has increased as much as the reassessments show.  It’s obvious the property reassessments are still a hot topic and seem to be on every homeowner’s mind.  I anticipate I will continue to be involved in assessment discussion even after June 1 rolls around and the final notices land in our mailboxes.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you already know how the reassessments work and have heard my tips to help you decide if an appeal may be your best option.  Hopefully, you’ve taken my advice and started to do some research of your own.

If you think you found something that will help you show that your assessment is off, start preparing for the appeal process now.  If any of the major facts in your assessment are incorrect, you may have a quick and easy challenge. Let’s face it, if your square footage has all of a sudden doubled, it’s an easy appeal.  But most other situations will require some more leg work on your end, and likely a lot more time to prepare.  Continue Reading More About the Lancaster County Reassessment – First Step

We have written a couple of posts about the Lancaster County-wide Property Tax Reassessment.  In this post, we want to focus specifically on commercial and industrial properties.  This includes any sort of income producing properties, including apartments and other rental properties.

As we explained before, the aim of the 2018 Reassessment is to make the assessed value of property equal to the actual fair market value of that property.  That is relatively easy to do with residential property – the County can see what properties of a similar size and location have sold for, and compare that to your residential property.  But for commercial property, that is much more difficult.  Your commercial property is different from most other properties.  Continue Reading Lancaster County Reassessment – Commercial and Industrial Property Assessment Appeals

By now, all property owners have had some time to stew over the preliminary reassessments they have received.  You’ve read our recent post on the Lancaster County property reassessment, searched Google for more information and discussed it with friends and neighbors.  The good news is, you don’t have to do anything yet.  That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not time for you to start considering your options and preparing for the inevitable.

Final assessments will be mailed to all property owners on June 1, 2017.  You have 40 days from the date of final notice to file your appeal if you don’t agree with your property’s assessed value or the value becomes final.  As is the case with everything else in life, that time will fly by.  And because the appeal process may in some cases require an appraisal of your property, your decision to begin the process should be made sooner rather than later. Continue Reading To Appeal, or not to Appeal – That is the question after you receive your property reassessment.

If you own property in Lancaster County, you probably have heard a lot about the County-wide property reassessment.  You should have received your Preliminary Assessment Notice in the mail.  If you suffered from a bit of shell shock after opening the Notice, take a breath, there are things you can do if you feel the value attributed to your home is incorrect. Continue Reading So I Received My Preliminary Property Assessment Notice. Now What?

Ask yourself this question, and answer honestly: how do I feel about my business recordkeeping?

Last month I attended a presentation hosted by a friend and coworker, Dave the Tax Guy of ITP Taxes. The topic: Recordkeeping. I know, I know, sounds like a topic as enthralling as watching paint dry. But I can assure you, Dave quickly had the undivided attention of everyone in the room, as he told a harrowing story about the process of working through an audit by the IRS.  Continue Reading Improving Business Recordkeeping

As income tax season is quickly ramping up, I am commonly asked by clients which parent can claim the children as dependents when they are separated from the other parent. And like any good lawyer, I often say it depends.

So what exactly does it depend on? According to the Internal Revenue Service, in order to claim a child as a dependent he or she must be a qualifying child. Assuming your children are qualifying children, only one exemption can be claimed per qualifying child. The IRS has determined that the “custodial parent” gets the to claim the exemption. The IRS has its own definition of “custodial parent.” According to their regulations, a custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of overnights in the calendar year. Continue Reading Tax season – Who Gets to Claim the Kids?

After years of rumors that the tax would be phased out completely (maybe even since its enactment in 1844), the day has come. Effective January 1, 2016, Pennsylvania’s Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax was finally eliminated.

Prior to its elimination, the tax applied to Pennsylvania corporations with capital stock, joint-stock associations, limited liability companies (LLCs), business trusts and all other entities classified as corporations for federal income tax purposes. In certain circumstances, the prospect of paying capital stock tax discouraged certain businesses from forming an LLC or other type of venture to which the tax applied, thus favoring organizations such as limited partnerships.

As a result of the elimination of the Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax, many organizations subject to the tax will be filing final corporation tax returns for the 2015 tax year. Consult your attorney or tax professional to determine how this impacts your business, and learn more about the tax from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue here.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Lancaster County Tax Collection Bureau ( recently clarified their stance on the quarterly tax return and payment obligation for individuals who earn at least $25,000.00 per year and are either self-employed or do not have the tax withheld from his or her paycheck. These individuals must file quarterly tax returns and make quarterly estimated tax payments, or will be subject to interest and penalties for any tax that was not paid by the due date, plus a $25.00 late fee. Quarterly payments are due 30 days after the end of each calendar quarter.

In the past, the Tax Collection Bureau has taken a more forgiving approach with these taxpayers, foregoing the fine and the quarterly payment obligation even though the Bureau revised its Supplemental Information Regarding Annual and Quarterly Tax Return Filing Requirements and Filing Extensions ( on January 1, 2014. Continue Reading Lancaster County Small Business Tax Update

In a recent blog post I shared that it was time to think about filing an annual tax assessment appeal.  The new common level ratio (CLR) for 7/1/15 – 6/30/16 is 1.29, up slightly from last year’s 1.26.

CLR is the factor you apply to your property’s assessed value to determine fair market value.  For example, a property that is assessed at $100,000.00 should have a fair market value of $129,000.00.  If the fair market value is actually below that, you should consider filing a tax assessment appeal.  That deadline is fast approaching on August 1, 2015.

The significance of the property assessment is that it serves as the basis to calculate school, county and municipal taxes.  By multiplying your assessed value times the millage rate, you will know the annual taxes on your property.  You can find the applicable millage rate for those taxes as updated to include to 2014 and 2015/2016 school taxes on Lancaster County’s website.

Christina Hausner is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, PA.  She received her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law and practices in a variety of areas.