With market values down, it's a good idea for anyone who purchased a home within the past 3-5 years to check into the possibility of having their property reassessed to see if property taxes could be lowered.
If you haven't already looked into to it — DO IT! And do it now. The deadline for filing an appeal with the Assessor's office is MAY 14 for the 2010-2011 tax year.
Here is the Web site for the County of San Diego Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk, which has all of the contact information for learning about and filing an appeal.
In fact, here is the link for the Application for Review of Assessment, which can be filled out online.
Here is a link on the Assessor's site that can help you find a property's sale information and parcel number that are needed to fill out the form. If you enter the address, then it will give you the parcel number and other sales information.
Be prepared to fill in the parcel number of your property, the value on the current assessment roll, come up with an opinion of value and support that opinion with some recent comparables. That takes a little bit of work, but filing is FREE and it could save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in property taxes.
There are Assessor offices throughout the county — downtown, Chula Vista, El Cajon, San Marcos and Kearny Mesa — where forms are available, questions can be answered and comparable information can be obtained. The number for the assessor's office is 858.505.6262.
Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or call me at 619.920.2195 and I will do what I can to help.
One of my reasons for pointing this out to homeowners is that last year I received something in the mail from a company called California Tax Reassessment that concerned me.
California Tax Reassessment offered to file an assessment appeal for me for a processing fee of $253 ($186 if I acted by April 27). I don't take issue with the company charging for this service, although, as stated above, a homeowner can do it for free. I do take issue with their approach, misleading information and business practices.
Let me provide some details:
The information mailed to me by California Tax Reassessment said that my current assessed value is $822,896, but they had a proposed assessed value of $576,027, a reduction that would save me $3,086 annually in property taxes.
Imagine my excitement at the savings.
There's just one problem with all this — it isn't accurate. Values may be down from their peak, but they have not dropped below what I paid in February of 2003. No home in my neighborhood has sold for less than $800,000. There's no way my value could be $576,027.
So I made a phone call to California Tax Reassessment. I spoke with Andrea. One of the first questions I asked her was what their address was so I could come down there to speak to someone in person. She said they were in Mission Valley, but she would not give out the address. RED FLAG goes here.
I proceeded to tell her that I couldn't see how my value could be $576,027 when no homes in my neighborhood had dropped anywhere near that. She said their estimate was based on my zip code — 92127 — and an average was provided for the value. She took my information and they ran another check. They found one home in my neighborhood that had sold for $1 million and two or three others a few miles away that sold for $500,000-$600,000. She said they would use the lower-priced homes in my evaluation rather than the $1 million comparable.
If the Assessor's office did any kind of check on the comparables, they would realize what I did — the other homes were not comparable to mine at all. And there would be no property tax reduction. I'm sure California Tax Reassessment would still have cashed my check, though. They make no promises that the homeowner will get tax relief — only that they will file my application for review.
Beware out there.
Contact Kirk Kenney: 619.920.2195 or firstname.lastname@example.org