The Wilkinsburg couple have a tax dispute with Allegheny County

WILKINSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – A Wilkinsburg couple say the newcomer tax is far from inviting.

A young couple with their roots in Peeble Street takes on Allegheny County in court to find new homeowners everywhere who are caught off guard by those hefty bills.

“We didn’t really know much about the neighborhood, but it was very nice,” said Shaquille Charles. “The bus line goes right across.”

“It was also affordable, but it was close to town,” Madelyn Gioffre said. “Close to many parts of the city (Carnegie Mellon University), the hospitals he would have to commute to. But it felt a lot like neighborhood.”

Charles and Gioffre made Wilkinsburg their home when they bought a two-story home for $200,000 before the pandemic. At the time, the estimate was around $80,000.

A year later, a letter came in the mail doubling the taxes.

“Had we known that, it probably would have changed our mind about buying a home,” Charles said. “We probably would have just rented or thought of something else.”

Mike Suley is tired of hearing about this story.

“Allegheny County took in $4.2 million from the newcomer tax last year,” said Suley, an valuation consultant. “And Allegheny County is doing nothing. Allegheny County is rewarded for bad reviews.”

That’s why he’s involved in the lawsuit the couple filed against Allegheny County. Suley said he’s followed this “blame game” since the tax began in 2001.

“Before that, the Appeals Committee would look at the reviews on the street and just try to make sure everything was equal and fair,” Suley said. “And all of a sudden they started, I call it, chasing sales.”

“I don’t think the politicians talk to these people to see what they’re going through,” he added. “It’s a sucker punch.”

From $3,500 in taxes to nearly $9,000, the couple will double and triple tax payments to their neighbors.

“If our taxes go up $1,000, we can certainly handle it. We would like to pay that to improve the schools. But $5,000? It’s just unsustainable,” said Gioffre.

Suley calls it the “blame game” because he said the county government blames the school districts and vice versa. The Wilkinsburg couple have a tax dispute with Allegheny County


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