Property Tax Reduction Scam Alert

Published: February 5, 2009

I know some of you have started providing a service to your clients whereby you send them comps that might help them reduce their property taxes next year. If you don’t do this you might want to think about it. It’s an excellent way to keep in touch with past clients/contacts offering an opportunity for them to save some money on that overpriced hunk of real estate you sold them (not overpriced at the time, however). Along with the comps, you can send them the PDF of the form they need from the Assessors Office – the Prop 8 Decline in Value Application

However, as with any good thing, there is the opportunity for abuse so whether or not you offer this service to your clients, you should be aware there are other less scrupulous people out there offering to provide this service for a fee – sometimes a substantial fee.

The following warning was sent out today from Los Angeles County and through C.A.R. Newsline as a courtesy: While the information in this release is for Los Angeles County, information for Riverside County may be obtained at Riverside County reviewed several thousand properties last year and will be doing the same again this year. With the continuing decline in values we’ve experienced during the year, even people who got some relief last year may qualify for more. And while last years blanket reassessment covered properties purchased since 2004, even owners of properties purchased prior to that date may qualify for some relief now.

As the article points out – your clients can easily do all the necessary paperwork themselves FOR FREE. Not only that, the county will probably be doing it anyway so they don’t even need to. They will be notified by June if their property qualifies and if they disagree with the counties findings, they will still have an opportunity to file the form. No use paying for something the county will do free – and no use paying some scam artist several hundred bucks to do nothing.

Various private companies are sending mailings to property owners offering their services to pursue a reduction in their property taxes. These companies may charge hundreds of dollars to file for a reduction in value on behalf of the property owner. Some companies are even imposing late fees if the application is received after an arbitrary deadline. Be aware that solicitations from private companies offering to pursue a reduction in property taxes must clearly indicate that they are NOT a government agency and that their services are NOT approved or endorsed by any government agency. Failure to provide such notice is a violation of California law. If you or someone you know receives an illegal solicitation, please contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs by phone at (800) 973-3370 or visit their website.

Property owners receiving legal solicitations from private companies that properly identify themselves as not being a governmental agency, should be aware that their property may be included in a review the Assessor’s Office will be doing in 2009. Over 500,000 single family houses and condos that were purchased between July 2003 and June 2008 will be reviewed. In some areas, earlier purchases will be looked at. There is no reason to pay for a review that will be done for free.

All 500,000 owners whose homes are reviewed will receive a letter by the end of June notifying them of the results. Owners who disagree with the results of the review or were not included in the review, may file an application through December 31. The (Riverside County)Decline-In-Value form is simple to complete and readily available online or at one of the Assessor’s District Offices. We will review the application and if a reduction is warranted, the taxable value will be reduced. Please note that there is no charge for a review. Owners are urged to wait until July to decide whether to file an application.

Last modified: February 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Originally published: February 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm
Printed: September 21, 2020