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Archive | May, 2012

Property Tax Appeals Allegheny County

Until recently, 2002 was the last time county officials performed a Property Tax Assessment on property in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  For years people speculated about when a new assessment would take place.  In December of 2011, it finally did, and when the new numbers came out, a lot of people’s property taxes shot through the roof.

If your property taxes increased in December of 2011 and you disagree with the assessment, you need to contact an attorney immediately to begin the Appeal Process.  The tax assessments in this county do not involve much more than someone driving by your house and picking a value for your property.  However, based on the interior condition of your home, and recent comparable home sales in your neighborhood, the assessed value may be too high.

You have two options when filing an appeal, the informal and formal process.  The informal process was originally created to correct small errors in assessed building characteristics (like square footage).  However, over time, the informal process has come to serve the same purpose as the formal process, i.e. an opportunity to have your property taxes lowered.  Today, there are really only two differences in the informal and formal process.  First, the informal process is faster.  Second, there will not be an attorney present on behalf of the taxing organization at the informal hearing to cross examine you based on your evidence.  Only an attorney experienced in property tax appeals will be able to advise you on which process is best for you.

In order to win your appeal and have your taxes lowered; you must be able to show that your property was over-valued.  There are a number a ways to do this.  You may bring pictures to you hearing.  You may bring a list of comparable properties in your neighborhood that recently sold for less than your assessed value.  Or, you may hire an independent assessor to appraise your property.  You will want to keep the presentation of your evidence and your argument short and concise.

Finally, there is another benefit to appealing your Property Tax Assessment as soon as possible.  Recently, Judge Wettick indicated that he may permit the 2012 Assessment to continue, but will not enforce the new assessment for tax purposes until 2013.  This will give you time to bring your appeal, and you will have an extra year before you will have to start paying your higher taxes.  This gives you a year to appeal your assessment, hopefully win, and never have to pay the new assessed value.

If you wish to appeal your assessment, you should contact our law office as soon as possible.  We will set up a consultation to review your recent assessment and the specifications of your property.  We will also look at the paperwork you have received from the county and help answer any questions you may have regarding your assessment.  We will advise you on whether we think an appeal will help, or potentially hurt, your future property taxes. Give us a call at 412-823-8003

Posted in Other

What can a collector do to me?

This is the number one question at my law office right now, everyone wants to know what the creditor can do to them.  I usually do not answer this question until I ask several of my own questions first.  Who is pursuing you?  That is the most important quesiton that I ask in every case.  If the answer is ” a collection agency” or “A debt buyer”, then I do not ever answer the client’s initial quesiton of “what can they do to me” because it will never matter.  If you are being sued by a debt buyer, then you MUST hire a consumer attorney, whether its my firm or another firm, because you are very likely to prevail in court and then it will never matter “what they can do to you”, as they will not be able to do anything after we beat them.

Now having said that, not every case that my office handles is a winner.  There are times when an original creditor will beat us and the question “what can they do to me” has merit.  The first thing is that if you do not file an appeal, their judgment can become final in the Court of Common Pleas.  That judgment will accrue interest at the rate of 6% essentially forever.  After judgment, they can attempt to garnish a bank account, if they know where you bank, and if the account is not a spousal account (spousal joint accounts cannot be garnished by a collector unless the judgment is against both husband and wife… this protection applies to ALL spousal assets).  The collector can also try to place a levy on your personal property (to expose it to public sale) but this route is taken in less than 20% of all judgment cases, in my opinion.

The collector CANNOT garnish wages in PA for this type of debt.  That being said, they can garnish a bank account that has wages in it.  Once a wage is deposited into a bank account, it is no longer a wage.

The collector can also send out what are called “Discovery requests” in the form of interrogatories.  These are questions asking you to list all of your assets.  Unfortunately, you must answer these questions or you can be subject to sanctions from the court.  Once the creditor learns of any assets after using these forms, they can try to execute on these assets using a Sheriff and a Writ of Execution.

This is pretty much the gamut of what we see being done by collectors.  If you are facing a credit card or other collection lawsuit, please contact my office for a free consultation.


Posted in Other

Credit Card Lawsuits

If you are faced with a credit card lawsuit, whether its an original creditor or a junk debt buyer, contact my office at 412-823-8003 right away. We offer a free, no obligation review of any credit card based lawsuit that is filed in PA.

FDCPA Attorneys

Many Debt Collectors threaten people, that's a fact. Threats of wage garnishment, jail, fraud charges and contacting employers, friends and relatives happens every day to people just like you. The truth is that most of these threats are illegal. If a debt collector is threatening you, contact our office at 412-823-8003 for a free initial consultation.