News Brief: Carnegie Mellon Economics Professor Creates Website To Estimate Allegheny County Real Estate Taxes by Governmental Unit-Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, August 30, 2012

News Brief: Carnegie Mellon Economics Professor Creates Website To Estimate Allegheny County Real Estate Taxes by Governmental Unit

New Site Designed To Take Uncertainty Out of 2013, 2014 Local Real Estate Tax Payments

Contact: Ken Walters / 412-268-1151 / walters1@andrew.cmu.edu
Professor Robert Strauss / 412-268-4798 / Rs9f@andrew.cmu.edu

PITTSBURGH-A new website created by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Robert Strauss will allow Allegheny County taxpayers to estimate their 2013 and 2014 real estate tax payments within 2 to 3 percent. This will take most of the uncertainty out of determining tax costs as a result of the county's court-ordered tax reassessments.

Overall, the taxable real estate base in Allegheny County will go up 38 percent in 2013. While Allegheny County Council, elected municipal councils and school boards are required by state law and Common Pleas Senior Judge R. Stanton Wettick, Jr., to reduce the 2013 millage from 2012 levels so the 2013 millage brings in overall the same total amount of real estate tax revenues in 2013, most taxpayers do not know whether their 2013 and 2014 real estate taxes will go up, go down or stay the same compared to 2012.

The website, http://www.propertytaxestimator.net/, answers this question for every taxable property - more than 550,000 - in Allegheny County, said Strauss, a professor of economics and public policy at CMU's H. John Heinz III College. Anybody can enter a property's street address, school district and municipality to see what the 2012, 2013 and 2014 county, municipal and school real estate taxes will be. They also can review tables that show each of the 130 revenue neutral municipal millages and 46 revenue neutral school district millages.  

The website was developed with the support of one-year grants from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the PNC Charitable Trust.

"People know their 2013 real estate assessments, but they don't know what their tax payments will be, so the site is designed to take the guesswork out of determining what their real estate taxes will be, based on the best information available," Strauss said. "The real estate community has repeatedly told me that such uncertainty has caused a slowdown in the housing market. We obtained data from the county, local governments and statistical agencies in Harrisburg to put it together and will keep it current.

"For most, local municipal and school real estate taxes are an important part of the family budget," he added. "Also, for prospective home buyers or families on a tight budget, real estate taxes can be a deal breaker in terms of moving. This real estate tax estimator gives them a clear idea of how real estate taxes will affect their family finances."

More than 103,000 real estate taxpayers have appealed their 2013 assessed values, he said, and the website will continue to be updated to reflect appeal results and the final millage decisions for 2013 made by local governments.

More information about Strauss can be found at his personal website, www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/rs9f. He can be reached directly at 412-268-4798 or Rs9f@andrew.cmu.edu.

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