Yesterday I found in my mailbox an official looking letter from “Property Tax Assessment Adjusters, LLC”. In addition to a lot of legalese type verbage, it said:
IMPORTANT : Upon a preliminary check your assessed value appears to be higher than your current market value. You may obtain property tax relief, even if you have received a reduction for a previous tax year.
For a fee of only $93, they will “advocate as my agent for the purposes of filing an application, answering all questions pertinent to the inquiry, attending a hearing, and accepting a modified assessment through the Assessor or the Assessment Appeals Board.”
Our former Governor, and current Attorney General, Jerry Brown, warned today that many of these companies are complete scams and will only take your money and disappear while you patiently wait for your tax adjustment.
This is something that most homeowners can do for themselves, by contacting their county’s assessor’s office and asking about it. There are a few forms to fill out, and it helps if your local real estate agent can provide a list of the current comps (call me if you are in Orange County!), but the proceedure is very simple and shouldn’t cost you more than the price of a stamp!
The Orange County Tax Assessor’s website has a good explanation of the process, and forms available to download.
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Has your property value declined below the property tax assessed value? If you bought in 2005 or 2006, there is a chance that the value may now be lower than what you paid.
Thanks to Proposition 13, our property taxes are based on the market value (usually, but not necessarily the sale price) at the time you buy your home, and are limited to a 2% increase per year unless there has been a change in ownership, new construction, or there had been a temporary reduction the prior year. The details are are available at the Tax Assessor’s web site.
In order to appeal your assessed value, and request a “temporary reduction of assessed value” you may now submit your application online through the Orange County Tax Assessor’s website, but you must do it before September 15th.
Be aware that this is really only a temporary reduction, and that if you don’t file again the next year, it will go back up to where it was before. I experienced this back in 1997, when I successfully had my tax assessment reduced by $40,000. It took a long time to get it approved, but I did receive a $400 refund. I didn’t realize at the time that it would only apply to that one year (1996) that I had appealed, so the following year, it re-gained the entire $40,000 value plus a 2% increase, and I didn’t know until it was too late to file again!
If you need the comps for your neighborhood as evidence for the Tax Assessor, please call at (949) 457-0281 or send me an email, and I will help you find the best ones.
For details about the new procedure, please see my friend (and fellow real estate blogger) Kelly Kilpatrick’s post at RSMLifestyles.com