How to seek a reduction on your home’s property tax,0,7593078.story

Original Post Date:March 4, 2012

By: Scott J. Wilson

If you believe you’re paying too much property tax because the county has overestimated the value of your home, you can seek a reduction. Here are tips on how to do this:

•If you believe the assessment was unfair in the past, contact your county assessor’s office or visit its website as soon as possible. At this time of year, many assessors are in the process of updating property values, so it’s good to express your concerns before the new assessment is finalized.

•Be cautious of any mail, email or phone solicitations by people or companies offering to contest your property valuation for a fee. You can usually do it yourself, except for a fee in some counties to file an appeal. In the past, groups have sent out property tax adjustment mailings that were made to look like government documents. Beware.

•Many assessments are based on “comps” — recent sale prices of similar-size homes in your area. If you suspect that inappropriate comps were used, use websites such as Yahoo Real Estate or to look for comps that might be more apt.

•If your home has suffered more than $10,000 worth of damage from a fire or other disaster, you may be eligible in California for a lower taxable value. Contact your assessor’s office to get an application for the discount.

•If you get turned down for a reduction, you can take your case to your county’s assessment appeals board, a panel independent of the assessor’s office. For information on how to file an appeal, including filing deadlines, call your county assessor’s office.