LERTA Attack Dismissed

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A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that a taxpayer had standing to challenge a LERTA designation, but the complaint nonetheless was dismissed because it alleged no facts in support of the claim that the property was incorrectly classified as deteriorated. McCrea v. Penn Township, No, 2206 C.D. 2012 (Pa. Commw. July 10, 2013). A township designated an area as deteriorated and therefore eligible for exemption under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA), 72 P.S. §§ 4722-4727. A taxpayer claimed that the designation was incorrect and that he would pay higher taxes as a result of exemptions claimed. The court agreed that the taxpayer had standing to challenge the designation under the standing rules stated in Pittsburgh Palisades Park, LLC v. Commonwealth, 888 A.2d 655 (Pa. 2005) and Mazur v. Washington County Redevelopment Authority, 954 A.2d 50 (Pa. Commw. 2008). Under these cases, a taxpayer has standing to challenge a tax enactment if the governmental action would otherwise go unchallenged, those directly and immediately affected by the enactment are beneficially affected and not inclined to challenge the action, judicial relief is appropriate, redressed through other channels is unavailable, and no other persons are better situated to assert the claim. Nonetheless, the complaint alleged nothing beyond the conclusions that the property was improperly designated as deteriorated. Therefore, the complaint was dismissed. The taxpayer was an elected director of the applicable school district.

This Alert was reprinted with permission from the PA Tax Recap, a publication of Pa Legislative Services.