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7/09/2014

Reduce Your Property Tax Bill

How to reduce your new increased property tax bill




It’s property tax increase time! 
Get a light green notice from Webster J Guillory
he’s increasing your property tax bill? 
It looks innocent enough.
It says (THIS IS NOT A BILL).
It’s a tax increase.
The State of California is broke. 
Statewide homeowners, property owners
are getting these increases.
Property tax increases are determined 
by home values, not made up by local governments.

Want to know what formula your assessor used to calculate increases in your property taxes? Give me a call.

Proposition 13 is getting push back. 
Notice on your bill the assessor may have 
increased the base year amount of value. 
On one of mine they increased the basis (the original sales price) about twenty percent. This could mean thousands of dollars in property tax increase for my bill. It is an error.

Some jurisdictions use a home's actual market value,
while others use a percentage of a property's worth.

Whatever value is used, it's multiplied by the local tax rate to compute the property's final bill (about 1.25%)  As home values now are increasing counties are looking for extra revenue. They will up your assessed values sometimes in great excess of the real value. Can you see them rubbing their hands together?

The National Taxpayers Union estimates that sixty percent of taxable property in the United States is over-assessed.

The tax man gets his money. They don’t make the process easy on purpose. Elderly and minorities are the least likely to appeal.

DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 15th in Orange County.

This in itself is a trick. Many counties, Riverside for example made the window of opportunity to file very small just so homeowners and property owners won’t file.

Deadlines, along with the appeals process, vary in each county in California. The time allowed for an appeal is short. It once was true that you could appeal year round, and as often as you like. Counties made up rules (likely not legal) as to keep the number of appeals or tax reductions down. You may have only 30 days to appeal. Or in some smaller Northern California County offices you could have up to 120 days.

If your request for an appeal arrives at the assessor's office even an hour after 5:00 on the protest deadline, so sorry too bad. The wait is imposed until the following year (or sometimes the next assessment, which could be longer) before you can appeal. Counties have a habit of losing these appeals. I have read some statistics that twenty percent of the appeals disappear. Send by certified mail AND go get a stamped copy from the counter.

Assessments can be appealed on two grounds: a mistake in the assessment of your house or an assessment at a higher rate than comparable homes.

County appraisers also may use historical information that's wrong. A home's square footage, for example, might have been incorrectly calculated on original construction documents.

Obvious mistakes aren't difficult to spot. Is the inhabitable square footage figure correct? Does the assessment say your home has four bedrooms when it only has three? But you also should consider checking the assessment's accuracy by comparing it with a recent appraisal of your property.

Make sure that any property changes, particularly those that would negatively affect the value of your home, are part of the assessment. New commercial building next door? Bluebird Canyon residents and neighbors mostly failed to use the slide and loss of road access to reduce their bills.

Don't forget any modifications or additions you've made. If you've torn down a gazebo, removed a garage or taken away something structural the value may be lower.


The other way to challenge an assessment is to see how your home value is in reference to houses in your neighborhood. Comparable means homes of the same size, age and general location. They must be within 20% of the square footage, couple block proximity, similar construction and age. You will need to know if they have a pool or other improvements.

Learn the appeals procedure for the county your property is located in. You can find the information on the county government or tax assessor's website, and download the necessary forms. The timing of your appeal is particularly important: San Francisco, for example, accepts appeals of annual assessments only between July 2 and Sept. 15.

Need help? Call me I can walk you through the fire.

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Call your tax assessor and find how they determined your value (if they will answer the phone).  If you can show she wrote down the wrong square footage for your house or the number of bedrooms, or that she missed an exemption or deduction you're entitled to under the law you are on strong footing.

File your appeal according to exact county procedures. This will often include paying a fee. You'll be notified when your appeals hearing is scheduled. If you don’t get notified, file again before the deadline.

Collect evidence that your house was overpriced. You may need to hire a Realtor or appraiser to give you a broker price opinion. I have a program that can get you on the Multiple Listing Service to find comps. You will need to not just state the comp address, sale date in past 60 days, and square footage- you will need photographs and a description of why the house is similar. If you can find comparable properties that sold for substantially less around the time that your house was appraised, this would be evidence that your value isn't what the assessor states.

You can try using the assessments on similar houses for the same purpose, however getting access to the bills is not as easy as the Assessor can view from their computer software. In other words- the Assessor has tools to argue back. Know your facts.

In California assessed value only rises two percent each year until a house is sold and reassessed: If your neighbor bought his house 10 years ago and you bought an identical model last month the taxes will be different.

Attend the hearing, or send a representative in your place. Failure to make your scheduled hearing will probably result in the board rejecting your appeal. Be prepared with any forms or documentation you're required to have.

You may need six copies of the papers.

Here’s the link to  OC form. They do not make it easy.

You will need your bill to file the form.


Do not trust the online application alone.

Mail a certified copy. Or call me for help
(949) 784-9699




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