Property Taxes

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Property in England - IRS Tax questions(2 responses)
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I received an offer to appeal my property tax assessment

July 2008

I received an unsolicited offer from Cooligan & Assoc. to appeal the tax assessment on my property on a success-only fee. I'm curious if anyone has a) appealed their property tax assessment recently and how it went and/or b) if anyone has used one of these firms to do the appeal for them what the experience/outcome was. Thanks. Berkeley homeowner

I appealed to Alameda County last year and was successful. You just get the forms off the Alameda County website. To find the information I needed to appeal, I went on Zillow and found lower sale prices for property within a three-block radius that had about the same square footage and bed/bath as our place. That was it. I don't think the process is complicated enough to hire a firm, which will take half of your ''winnings.'' Good Luck
I fell into the trap of responding to one of those mass mailings offering to submit a tax assessment appeal on my behalf earlier this year. The assessment they sent back to me was worthless, and in fact could have subjected me to significant liability had I submitted it and attested to my belief that it was valid (they used vacant unimproved property as comparable properties (my house is only three years old and in a development with some empty lots) and came up with a number that was $650,000 less than the assessed value. They also used the wrong forms, as Alameda County had its own form that has to be completed, and I doubt that Alameda county would have accepted the useless form the assessment by mail company sent me back. I ended up tossing the forms from the mass- mailer Tax Assessment Corp. and using the Alameda County form I printed online at the Alameda County Tax Assessors office website instead. I completed it online, and found the comparable properties myself using and I also sent a letter to the assessment company refusing to pay their fee, and succeeded in getting them to waive the bill (I threatened legal action). The bad news is that I lost my appeal (the assessor told me that they only consider comps close to December and that several sold in my neighborhood close to the assessed value late last year.), but I am hopeful that I will succeed next year. My advice - do it yourself. There was an article in the Chronicle about the process a few months back you may be able to find online, and the tax assessor's office has advice online. But don't respond to those mailers and waste your money. It's a scam. Lesson learned
You can contest your property tax assessment yourself, for free. You don't need to pay anyone. Find some local recent ''comparables'' (homes similar to yours) that have sold recently for less than your house's assessment. Your property tax assessment notice that you get in the mail tells you where to contact and what to do. anon

Reassess House to Lower Property Tax ?

June 2008

Has anyone gone through the process of having their house reassessed to lower their property taxes? On the Contra Costa website, it says we have to demonstrate the market value of the house--what's the best way to do that? Can we use or one of the other house-value website? Sue

We bought our house in 1990, and within a few years, since 1991 was a peak, we had it ''reassessed''. This simply meant writing in and requesting that our tax be lowered. Nobody ever contacted us or visited the house--they knew what the average decline was and I presume just used that. You could submit zillow--why not? They did lower our taxes, pretty much automatically. If zillow is not sufficient, I'm sure they will let you know, and I don't know of any reason why you can't try again.

If you have some specific amount in mind and it is arguable, I think it would be more complicated. But if you are willing to take what they are willing to do, and you bought your house in the last few years, I don't think it will be any trouble. There are all kinds of ads and stuff for companies that will help you--but they make it seem much more complicated than it is. The tax assessor, after all, is supposed to assess your house and know its value.

Now, we have owned our house since 1990. NO WAY would we be able to get our assessment lowered even though the house has declined in value in the last 2 years, because due to prop 13, our taxes are based on a much lower value than what it is worth now. So only if you bought your house recently, and its current value is less than what you paid, will this work. householder

I was hesitant to do this but did it anyway. I am so happy I did because our property tax was lowered by over $1100. All you have to do is send in a letter to the County Assessor. I first called and they told me what to do. They said that it may take some time as a lot of people were doing it, but it only took one month and I received a revised tax statement. I plan on doing it again if prices keep falling. This is what I wrote: Due to the current housing market, I disagree with the current assessment of our property and would like to request an assessment review of our property at XXXX Street, City, CA 94XXX. Good Luck. ARA