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Your Millage May Vary

Despite the hype, tax reassessment may lower your bills

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Like a Biblical scourge, the county's property-tax reassessment is upon us; city dwellers began receiving new tax valuations last week ... and cries of horror echoed all over town. But despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth, lots of Pittsburghers will come out ahead in this reassessment. The winners just don't know who they are yet.

Already, media accounts have featured outraged residents who will almost certainly be paying less in property taxes – even though their assessments increased by thousands of dollars. And while some Pittsburghers took delight in learning that Judge Stanton Wettick, who ordered the assessment, will see his own home's value increase by $134,200 ... he too will likely end up paying less.

How? When a reassessment takes place, state law requires governments to offset increases in property values with a decrease in tax rates. So as long as your property's value grew by less than the city average you'll pay less in taxes once the rate is recalibrated later this month. Wettick's valuation, for example, grew 28 percent — but that's less than the city average of 46 percent, so he may effectively see a tax cut as a result of his court order.

Below you'll see how some Pittsburgh celebrities and neighborhoods should fare in the reassessment, based on the county's initial values. Those to the left of the magic 46 percent line will likely see tax cuts. Those to the right will likely see tax hikes. Our sampling is admittedly arbitrary, but it gives a sense of who the winners and losers are likely to be.

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