Prepare Now: COVID-Era Property Tax Appeals in Focus for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. How we work, shop, and play have all been upended. One thing that has not changed is the need to pay property taxes. Skoloff & Wolfe, PC has one of the largest property tax appeal practices in the Mid-Atlantic region and nationally. We have active cases in major markets throughout the U.S., and—for nearly 60 years—we have worked to secure billions in assessment reductions for individual, corporate, and institutional clients. This has given us a global perspective on how property taxes are assessed and how they can be challenged.

The following are key areas of focus on which we are advising our clients as 2021 approaches:

1. Taxing authorities will be forced to reckon with COVID-19 in 2021.

Tax Year 2021 will mark the first year in which taxing authorities will be forced to acknowledge COVID-19’s impact on property values. Many jurisdictions have refused to recognize the impact of COVID-19 thus far because 2020 assessments were established with pre-COVID-19 valuation dates. However, since values for Tax Year 2021 are based on post-COVID-19 valuation dates, taxing authorities are no longer able to ignore the pandemic’s impact on property values. As such, we are anticipating a large increase in the volume of appeals, particularly in the retail, hospitality and office sectors.

2. Beware of increase cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Despite the pandemic, the proliferation of municipality-initiated “increase cases” should be a top concern for commercial property taxpayers. As municipalities focus their attention on their largest taxpayers, S&W is helping clients defend increase appeals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our firm is actively litigating the constitutionality of these matters by seeking a judicial declaration that this municipal action violates the Uniformity Clause of State Constitutions as well as the Equal Protection guarantees of the United States Constitution.


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