Common Myths About the Lancaster County Property Tax Reassessment

Ever since Lancaster County announced that it would conduct a county-wide property tax reassessment, there have been myths circulated as facts by residents that don’t understand the reassessment.  And as is the case with most myths, somehow they get bantered around as facts and cause people to formulate false assumptions that have nothing to do with reality.  So let’s start shattering some myths.

MYTH:  I got my new reassessment in the mail and it went up $25,000.  I’m going to get killed when I get my next tax bill.

Take a deep breath.  Not necessarily.

There are two factors used when calculating a property’s real estate taxes.  Here is the basic formula:  Assessed Value X Millage Rate = Real Estate Taxes.

During a reassessment year in Pennsylvania, millage rates must be adjusted so that a taxing jurisdiction (i.e. county, municipality, school districts) doesn’t collect any more taxes than it did the previous year prior to the reassessment.  In other words, the amount collected must be revenue neutral.  As a result, you could have some property owners pay more, some will pay less, and for some, it will be a wash.

If the county and municipality feel they need to increase total tax revenue during a reassessment year to cover costs, they have to hold a special vote.  However, the additional revenue is capped at 10% from the preceding tax year.  School districts have a lower cap which is provided by the State Department of Education.  At present, that index is around 2-3%. Continue reading

Peak Behind the Curtain on Short-term Rentals

I’ve recently been asked by a number of people if I thought it was a good idea to rent their home through a national website to earn some additional cash.  After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Aside from your house being trashed while you’re away, here are three things to keep in mind if you are considering renting out your house on a short-term basis.

1. Legality

The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn’t been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn’t have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels. Finally, many investors are buying properties with the intent of renting them out, which takes housing off the market in areas with already limited inventory (check out this article from The Los Angeles Times to learn more).

Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws. Continue reading