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Auto Notes – Summer 2015

July 12, 2015

In this issue: Supreme Court Slams The Brakes On Challenge To Disparate Impact County Property Assessment Appeals Deadlines Approaching!

Supreme Court Slams The Brakes On Challenge To Disparate Impact

By Donald Kaufman and Emily Hart*As of now, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits dealers from unintentional, or “disparate impact,” discrimination in setting dealer reserves in auto financing.  This disparate impact can result from policies or practices which have disproportionately adverse effects on members of a protected class (race, national origin, religion, sex, etc.).

Last month, in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., the Supreme Court upheld disparate impact as a valid theory of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (Act).  While there was no question that the Act prohibits intentional discrimination, some believed the Court accepted the case to invalidate disparate impact.  However, the Court upheld disparate impact, noting that the language of the FHA focuses on the consequences of a policy or practice, not just the motivation, or intent, behind them.

This decision only applies to disparate impact under the FHA, so it is not clear whether the Court would uphold a challenge to disparate impact under ECOA. However, the Court’s validation of disparate impact in the context of the FHA will aid the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under ECOA, to make good on its promise to eradicate unintentional, statistical discrimination from dealer-assisted financing.

The NADA has published and recommended guidelines to establish a Standard Dealer Participation Rate and implement a Fair Credit Compliance Program as ways to reduce exposure to disparate impact liability.

The take-away is simple: nothing has changed, disparate impact is alive and well.

Emily Hart is part of the McNees 2015 Summer Associate Program and is currently enrolled at Drexel University School of Law.

County Property Assessment Appeals Deadlines Approaching!

Those who pay property tax in Pennsylvania have an annual opportunity to appeal the assessed value of property.  Deadlines for these appeals vary by county, but most are either August 1 or September 1, so now is the time to analyze your assessment to determine whether you may be able to have it lowered to reduce your tax burden.

In order to properly analyze your assessment, you must have an idea of what your property is actually worth.  That is, what is the price that you would be able to sell it to a willing buyer?  Once you have made that determination, you must then go to your assessed value and apply your county’s applicable common level ratio to determine the “implied market value.”  If the “implied market value” from your assessment is higher than what you believe your property is worth, your assessment is likely too high which results in you paying more property tax than is warranted.

In this economy, many property owners are experiencing issues that result in a lowering of property values.  Regardless of context, all property owners should examine assessment annually to make sure they are in line with fair market value.


The property tax assessment and appeal process can be confusing and intimidating and directly affects the bottom line of your business.  We can help you analyze the assessment on your property and, if necessary, handle an appeal.  Time is running short, however.  So if you think an appeal may be warranted, contact us soon so that you do not miss the deadlines to file.


The McNees State and Local Tax Group provides Pennsylvania state and local tax representation and assists clients with multi-state tax planning and dispute resolution. McNees is prepared to advise and represent clients in all areas of state and local taxation, including sales, business, transportation, insurance and real estate taxes. Please contact the McNees State and Local Tax Group if you need tax assistance.

 © 2015 McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC

AUTO NOTES is presented with the understanding that the publisher does not render specific legal, accounting or other professional service to the reader. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the law, information contained in this publication may become outdated. Anyone using this material must always research original sources of authority and update this information to ensure accuracy and applicability to specific legal matters. In no event will the authors, the reviewers or the publisher be liable for any damage, whether direct, indirect or consequential, claimed to result from the use of this material.