In an unreported decision, a panel of the Commonwealth Court concluded that certain self-storage facilities were correctly valued for real estate tax purposes based on the actual financial results from the property, since the trial court had found that the properties were optimally managed and a buyer could not reasonably expect to improve the financial performance. Guardian Self Storage WD v. Board of Property Assessment Appeals & Review, No. 119 C.D. 2009 (Pa. Cmwth., Nov. 16, 2009). Property should be valued for Pennsylvania real estate tax purposes at the value that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller. The actual financial performance by a seller is not directly relevant. Here, the trial court held that the actual performance was what a buyer in the marketplace could expect. The Commonwealth Court rejected the claim that the value amounted to a value-in-use, prohibited by F&M Schaeffer Brewing Co. v. Lehigh County Board of Appeals, 610 A.2d (Pa. 1992). Since the trial court found that the actual financial results were what a buyer could expect, the value was not a value-in-use; rather it was the value-in-exchange. In any event, the court stated that the purpose of the rule in F&M Schaeffer Brewing Co. is to protect a taxpayer from a value in excess of market value. The court stated that there was no indication that the Supreme Court intended the doctrine to permit a taxing authority to claim a lower value than a value claimed by the authority to be a value-in-use.
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