The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has decided to look into the practice of school districts hiring companies to look for commercial properties that are under assessed, which results in a school district assessment appeal, with the company getting a contingent fee percentage of the increased taxes achieved.

Land owners have been complaining that this practice violates the uniformity clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution, because properties are being singled out and residential properties, other than apartment complexes, are not being attacked.

In the case of Valley Forge Towers Apartments LP, et al. vs. Upper Merion Area School District, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has agreed to allow an appeal to consider a narrow question, which is:

[the school district] deliberately chose commercial property such as Petitioners’, for selective assessment appeals, but did not appeal assessments of any single family home properties, although the latter are significantly under assessed. The Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits disuniformity in taxation. Is a school district’s decision to appeal property assessment insulated from review because, inter alia, the school district has a statutory right to file appeals and can identify an economic reason for its appeals?

There is no guarantee, but normally when the Supreme Court allows an appeal there is a good chance it will come down on the side of reversing the status quo. If you are in the middle of an assessment appeal involving an apartment complex or commercial building you may want to hold off from settling that case until the Supreme Court decides the Valley Forge Towers case.