Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Property Tax Reduction Scam Alert

In California, property taxes are based on the price you paid when you purchased your home. Every year, that value can increase by a specific percentage. However, the assessed value may never go higher than the actual fair market value of your home.

Let's say you bought your home in 2000 for $100,000. In 2005, that home might have sold for $150,000. But your property tax would still be based on your original $100,000 purchase price (plus the small annual increases).

Up until last year, most homeowners were happy with this arrangement. But with the downturn in the market, some buyers found themselves paying taxes based on values that were no longer valid. If you bought a home in 2006 in California for $200,000, that home today might only be worth $150,000. But your taxes are still based on the $200,000 purchase price.

But the property tax regulation has a provision to DECREASE your taxes if the values go down. In fact, many county assessors have been automatically decreasing values without being asked by the homeowners. But if yours has not gone down, or has not gone down enough in your opinion, you can request a reassessment. And here's where the scammers come in.

In the past couple of days I have received numerous phone calls and emails asking about the “2010 Property Tax Reduction Form” many of us received in the mail.

This mailer promises that, if you send this company $189, they “ will prepare and submit all necessary documentation to the County Office and Assessment appeals Board, and will act as your agent in all dealings with the County Assessor’s Office and at the Assessment Appeals Board Hearings.”

It looks very official, complete with Assessor’s ID number and a reply due date. But it’s all a scam!

If you think your property assessment is too high, you DO NOT need to pay ANYTHING! Reassessment is free. The form can be downloaded from the County Assessor’s website, or you can call them and they will mail the form to you – for FREE.

I have helped many neighbors fill out their reassessment forms. If you want help, call or email and I will assist you. Save your money and please don’t fall for this scam.

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