If you are not sure of the accuracy of your tax base, consult your local Realtor or real estate appraiser to find out if your assessed value is close to accurate given the current value of your home. Many Californians are finding their current assessments to be completely inaccurate, especially if they bought 2-10 years ago, and will save hundreds, if not thousands, by filing some simple paperwork.
For homeowners with over-assessed property, there are two different ways for you to get it reduced. The first is the Informal Assessment Review, which we could call the easy way because you simply ask the county assessor to review their assessment of valuation for your property by filing a simple form. When this doesn’t work, The Formal Request for Changed Assessment, which is a little more intensive but can still pay dividends, involves filing an appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board where you can choose to have an independently reviewed Hearing regarding your case. In many districts, including Orange County, the Assessor wants property owners to file the informal review before requesting a formal review so owners really need to check with their local Assessor.
Informal Property Tax Appeal or Review - Each county has deadline dates that may vary, but the informal appeal process is desirable because with little effort you may get the assessor’s office to lower your property assessment just by filing a review request. On the other hand, they are the ones who set the value in the first place and it may not be realistic for them to readily admit that they made a mistake especially considering there is no independent overview party reviewing the process and decision. If the assessed value is determined to be in error (lower), then you will be granted a reduced assessment and they will reduce the taxes required. This will result in a tax refund (with interest) that will automatically be sent to you. If you are denied and still feel that the assessed value is overstated then you may need to file the Formal Appeal.
Formal Property Tax Appeal or Review - Formal Requests for Changed Assessment and Appeals are usually due either on September 15th or November 30th. The advantage of the formal review is that you will get an independent review of your assessed value by a Hearing officer. The disadvantage is that it will take more time and involve more effort. It is not necessary to provide comparable values and information at the time of the application, but you might as well get them prepared since you will need them at the Hearing later. Finding the data is more difficult as time proceeds, so it is smart to get the homework done early. Comparable sales (dated no later than March 31st for 2008) are a basic minimum of evidence that is needed at the Hearing. After filing your Formal Request for Changed Assessment it may take 6-9 months before you hear from them regarding an appointment to schedule a Hearing. Once you do hear from them then it may be prudent for you to call the Assessor’s office to see if you might be able to reach an agreement on a lower Assessed value without going to a Hearing. If an agreement can be reached on a lower value, you can enter a Stipulation Agreement which reflects the revised Assessed value for your property for the appeal year.
Appeals Board Hearing - If an agreement is not reached, you either present your case to a Hearing officer (the default method) or you present your case to the Assessment Appeals Board. After a decision is reached you will be notified if a reduction is granted. If so, you will receive a refund usually within 6-8 weeks
Addition information and forms can be found at the California State Board of Equalization Website http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/pub30.pdf and forms for informal reviews requests can be found at your county tax assessors website. Residents of Orange and Los Angeles Counties can feel free to contact us to aid in finding comparable properties for their assessment appeal. Filing these simple forms has helped many people save quite a bit of money so if you have reason to believe your assessed value is too high, we’d encourage you to at least check it out.