It is unlawful to engage in Spot Reassessment in Pennsylvania.

The reassessment of a property or properties by a county assessment office that is not conducted as part of a countywide revision of assessments and which creates, sustains, or increases disproportionately among properties’ assessed values.  The term does not include board action ruling on an appeal, as a real estate lawyer in Allentown, PA, like from Hoegen & Associates, P.C., can explain.

Additionally, Pennsylvania Law provides the general provisions setting forth when a property may be reassessed by the Board of Assessment Appeals, as follows:

“(a) General rule.–In addition to other authorization provided in this chapter, the assessors may change the assessed valuation on real property when a parcel of land is subdivided into smaller parcels or when improvements are made to real property or existing improvements are removed from real property or are destroyed. The recording of a subdivision plan shall not constitute grounds for assessment increases until lots are sold or improvements are installed. The painting of a building or the normal regular repairs to a building aggregating $2,500 or less in value annually shall not be deemed cause for a change in valuation.

(b) Construction.–A change in the assessed valuation on real property authorized by this section shall not be construed as a spot reassessment under section 8843 (relating to spot reassessment).

Under Pennsylvania law, spot reassessment is prohibited. Pennsylvania law provides in pertinent part:

“[t]he county assessment office is prohibited from engaging in the practice of spot reassessment. In the event that the county assessment office engages in the practice of spot reassessment, the property owner may file an appeal to the board, limited to the issue of spot reassessment, in accordance with this chapter. Upon a finding by the board or an adjudication by the court that the property owner has been subjected to a spot reassessment, the property owner shall be entitled to a refund of any taxes paid pursuant to a spot reassessment and interest thereon from the date of payment at the same rate and in the same manner as the Commonwealth is required to pay interest pursuant to section 806.1(b) of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L. 343, No. 176), known as The Fiscal Code. A change in assessment resulting from an appeal to the board by a taxpayer or taxing district shall not constitute a spot reassessment.”

As a general proposition, selective reassessment or, “spot reassessment,” by a body clothed with the power to prepare or revise assessment rolls, value property, change the value of property, or establish the predetermined ratio is improper.

With respect to property assessment principles, it is generally acknowledged that once an evaluation has been established for a taxable property, that valuation cannot be changed unless said change is the result of a countywide reassessment. 

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has held that:

“It is generally acknowledged that, once a value has been established for a taxable property, that value cannot be changed absent one of the following circumstances: (1) undertaking of a county-wide reassessment; (2) appeal of property assessment by either the landowner pursuant to section 701 of the Assessment Law, 72 P.S. § 5453.701, or by the taxing authority under section 706 of the Assessment Law, 72 P.S. § 5453.706; (3) need for a downward adjustment is necessary under section 703.3 of the Assessment Law, added by section 2 of the Act of September 28, 1965, P.L. 550, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5453.703c; (4) need to correct a mathematical or clerical error; or (5) presence of one of the three conditions outlined in section 602.1 of the Assessment Law, 72 P.S. § 5453.602a. When none of these circumstances exists, a taxing authority’s reassessment of property constitutes an impermissible spot reassessment.”

Assessors and boards of assessment cannot reassess less than an entire county except as correction of errors or as otherwise specifically provided by statute.