News Column

Erie County takes new plunge over taxing pools

July 16, 2014

By Ed Palattella, Erie Times-News, Pa.



July 16--The Erie County Assessment Bureau is diving into the taxation of a relatively new development locally: the semi-in-ground swimming pool.

County assessors will treat the pools, which are half above ground and half below, as permanent structures and thus subject to real estate taxes, the director of the Assessment Bureau, Scott Maas., said in a new directive.

He said the assessors do not assess above-ground pools for tax purposes because they are temporary structures. Traditional in-ground pools are assessed because they are permanent, Mass said.

Under his interpretation of state assessment law, Maas said, semi-in-ground pools, which typically feature concrete pads and foundations, are just as permanent as traditional in-ground pools.

"They have poured foundations that the liners are attached to," Maas said.

He detailed his position on Monday, at the monthly meeting of the three-member Erie County Board of Tax Assessment Appeals. The bureau's approach to the semi-in-ground pools is the latest example of assessors tracking new building innovations.

"We've seen about a dozen at this point," Maas told the board.

Maas said the taxability of the semi-in-ground pools came up when an assessor recently visited a house in Harborcreek Township on another matter and saw a semi-in-ground pool that had yet to be assessed.

"We are definitely going to assess them," Maas said of semi-in-ground pools. "This isn't a pool that you pull the plug on, put in your truck and drive away."

Semi-in-ground pools are particularly appropriate for when a pool must be built into the side of a hill, said Michele Ericson, store manager at Colley's Pools and Spas, 3066 W. 26th St., in Millcreek Township. She said semi-in-ground pools can cost $10,000 to $12,000, or in between the price of an above-ground pool and a traditional in-ground pool.

Ericson said she has sold five or six semi-in-ground pools in the 14 years she has been at Colley's Pools, and that customers have not raised issues over taxes.

Others in the industry have marketed a semi-in-ground pool as "not classified as a permanent structure, meaning it's not subject to additional property taxes," according to a 2012 article in Aqua, a trade magazine.

In Erie County, at least, that theory is all wet.

ED PALATTELLA can be reached at 870-1813 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNpalattella.

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(c)2014 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Erie Times-News (PA)


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