Tax lawyer Mark Muntean sent around the following thought on lowering the appraised value of a home in a world of declining real estate values.
I think it was Bruce Springsteen who said “Every cloud has its silver lining.”1 One such possible silver lining is emerging from the sub-prime meltdown. My wife was bemusing our property tax bill the other day, and it was my chance to prove that I am not totally worthless around the house.
Similar to many California counties, Alameda County, allows for an Informal Request for the Decline in Market Value Reassessment (Prop. Eight) to be filed, reducing a property owner’s annual property tax bill. This is not a formal property tax appeal. Instead, this is a one page form that any property owner can fill out.
The real beauty of this form is that it does not require a formal appraisal. The property owner merely gives their opinion of value based on recent market information, which most likely found on the Internet.
Nearly every California county has a similar process. However, a word of caution is that this informal process has a deadline for this year. While Alameda County’s deadline is April 10, 2008, according to Los Angeles County’s Decline-In-Value Reassessment Application (Prop.Eight) form, the form must be filed by December 31, 2007. Interestingly, San Mateo County’s form does not list a deadline. However, additional information can be found on the county assessor’s website.
It is possible that a taxpayer may benefit from filing a form this year, reflecting a decrease in value to date, and a second form next year, if there is an additional fall in value. Commercial net leases frequently require the lessee to pay property tax. Thus, the lessee may explore possible property tax savings as well.
Formal property tax appeals can be pursued in 2008. To timely file a property appeal for the 2008/2009 tax roll year, a completed Application for Changed Assessment form must be submitted to the county Assessment Appeals Board where the property is located no later than September 15, 2008. September 15, 2007 was the deadline for the 2007/2008 tax roll.