Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is an assessment?
An assessment is the value placed upon a property. This value reflects the market value of the property. When multiplied by the millage rates in effect the taxes owed for the property are produced.
How is my assessment calculated?
An assessor (Certified Pennsylvania Evaluator) will measure and list the characteristics of the property and consider all factors to arrive at a market value assessment.
What is "Market Value"?
Current Market Value is defined as "the price which a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obligated to sell, considering all uses to which the property is adapted".
What is a common level ratio?
A percentage applied to market value to equalize an assessment when appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals or the Court of Common Pleas. The State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) determines the common level ratio by calculating a percentage between recent sales to their current assessment. Additional information pertaining to STEB and the common level ratio is available at http://www.steb.state.pa.us.
What is an interim or split?
An interim is the assessment placed on new construction, such as a new building, addition to existing property, a deck or other improvements to a property. A split is a change in acreage.
What recourse do I have if I don't agree with the assessment?
You may appeal the assessment by completing an appeal form and filing it in a timely manner. Please read and follow the important information accompanying the appeal form prior to filing the appeal. The appeal form can be obtained at the forms section of this website as well as in the Assessment Office, which is located within the Berks County Services Center, 633 Court Street, Third Floor, Reading, PA 19601.
A change in assessment must be appealed within forty (40) days of the date of the notice.
The open appeal period for filing regular appeal forms is from July 1 to August 15. Any property owner can file an appeal during this time.
What is the basis to appeal?
You have a valid claim for reduction only if you can demonstrate that your assessment is in excess of current market value. The law presumes the assessment value is correct until proven otherwise.
High taxes and/or ability to pay are not valid reasons to appeal.
Who hears the appeal?
The appeal hearing is held before a three-member Board of Assessment Appeals. It is a quasi-judicial Board appointed by the County Commissioners.
What is the appeal process?
An appointment notice, which includes the date and time of the appeal, is mailed to the property owner. The appeal is an informal hearing. At this hearing the owner must present evidence proving the current market value of the property.
As a result of the evidence presented at the appeal hearing, final decisions are rendered and mailed to the property owner.
The final decision of the Assessment Board can be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas within thirty (30) days of the date on the final notice.
When was the last countywide reassessment?
The last countywide reassessment became effective for the 1994 tax year.
Where can I research assessments?
Property records are open to the public at the Assessment Office, which is located within the Berks County Services Center, 633 Court Street, Third Floor, Reading, PA 19601. This information is also available on the Assessment Office main page.
How can I calculate my taxes?
The tax rates and tax collectors for each municipality are listed on the Assessment Main page. Contact the tax collector for verification of current tax information.
assessment X millage rate = taxes
If we are a church or non-profit corporation, etc., how can I request an exemption?
An exemption application can be obtained in the forms section of this website or at the Assessment Office. Complete the application and return it to the Assessment Office prior to September 1. A hearing will be scheduled to be held in October. At this time you present your evidence to the Board of Assessment Appeals as to why you feel the property is entitled to an exemption.
What is Clean and Green?
This is a farmland preservation Act, which gives approved property owners a preferential assessment, based on the classification of the land. The general requirement is to have 10 or more acres. For additional information, please refer to the Clean and Green (Act 319) portion of this website.
Are programs available for taxpayers with hardship cases?
There are programs available to senior citizens and disabled veterans.
Property tax rebate forms are available for senior citizens through the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue at 610-378-4401. Assistance with those tax rebate forms can be available at the Berks County Office of Aging (610) 478-6500.
Veterans' exemptions are available to 100% permanently disabled veterans. Contact Veterans Affairs at 610-378-5601 for additional information and requirements.
Disclaimer -- The contents of this site are for general information purposes only. We endeavor to ensure that the information on this site is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and we do not accept any liability for error or omission. This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Important legal rights may be involved and you may be adversely impacted. Please consult your attorney.