Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Property Tax Reassessment Scams

Apparently, some people love paying for a service they do not need.

One letter that came in the mail charged a flat rate of $75 while a recent bulk mailing wanted nothing up front, instead going after a larger pay day down the road - an amount that could total thousands of dollars or $1875, using the most recent solicitations own example.

Yet the Los Angeles County Assessor has flatly stated: "There is no reason to pay for a review that has already been completed by the Assessor's office."

This page has warned homeowners in prior weeks to beware, but the latest example is so egregious that another warning is warranted.

Home prices in the San Fernando Valley and most of Los Angeles are holding relatively steady, but some properties have seen a decline in value. Homes purchased at the peak of the recent sellers' market may have seen enough of a drop in value to qualify for reduction of their property taxes.

In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that allows a temporary reduction in assessed value when a property suffers a decline-in-value. Reducing the assessed value brings with it a reduction in the annual property tax bill.

The assessor has already reviewed properties purchased between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2007, and has sent letters notifying a property owner if they qualify for the reduction.

If a letter has not been received, chances are the property did not qualify for a reduction in assesses value as of the cut-off date of January 1. Any reduction also would be reflected in the annual property tax bill, however, homeowners can contact the assessor to check or file an application or an appeal. It's an easy process with a simple one-page form available on-line that must be filled by Dec. 31.

"Solicitations of this type many not be illegal," said Assessor Rick Auerbach, "But property owners should be aware that their property may have already been reviewed and the value reduced. There is no reason to pay for a review that has already been completed by the Assessor's office."

For details on the program, an application form, and contact information, go online to:
http://assessor.lacounty.gov/extranet/guides/prop8.aspx

Written by: Southland Regional Assocation of Realtors

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