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Resource ID: #22792
Subject:Property And Tax Records
Taking advantage of a state program designed to limit suburban sprawl and preserve open space, Pennsylvania's Allegheny County has been providing tax breaks for country clubs, developers, and owners of million-dollar estates. Under the law, which allows for property assessment breaks, county assessment officials have approved hundreds of new applications since 2003, increasing the number of properties in the program by 50 percent. In return for the tax break, owners had agreed to open their properties to the public. But land owners interviewed for the story asserted their right to declare their homes private property. In addition, the investigation discovered that 60 properties - 5 percent of those in the program - have unpaid taxes totaling more than $100,000. In the wake of the initial story, a followup reported that the government declared the properties open to the public, since they received a tax break like public parks.