Home owners call me sometimes wondering why their property tax bill has increased over the past few years despite property values clearly declining. Has this ever happened to you? Take the real life situation below as an example. Is it suspect to have a higher tax bill in 2011 than in 2003 since property values clearly having declined in the Sacramento area?
Here’s the deal. If your property is currently assessed for less than true market value, the Assessor can increase your assessed value by 2% per year even if property values are declining (so long as the assessment does not go above the Prop 13 value of course). This can be very frustrating for a home owner, but it’s legitimate in many cases. Keep in mind though that the tax bill includes property taxes, but also direct levies, benefit assessments, and delinquent utilities, which could also be a reason why a tax bill has increased by more than 2%.
On the other hand, sometimes home owners don’t pay attention and this type of normative 2% yearly increase is occurring when in fact there should be a huge decrease due to the downward real estate market. For example, I am working with a Folsom owner who has seen an increase in property taxes over the past three years, yet values in the neighborhood have plummeted to the point where the house is overassessed by $150,000 (yet assessed value is going up each year).
Moral of the story: Pay attention to your property taxes and market value. An increase may or may not be legitimate based on your situation. Know your circumstances and watch closely. If you would like for me to look into your situation to see if there might be a discrepancy between your assessed value and market value, give me a call at 916-595-3735. The deadline to dispute property taxes in Sacramento County is November 30, 2011.
If you have any questions, or real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs in the Greater Sacramento Region, contact Lundquist Appraisal by phone 916-595-3735, email, Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to posts by email.
Lawrence Roscoe says
Great article and great advice…as an Assessor, I can tell you that the ultimate responsibility for the taxes paid are on the tax payer! Many systems are automated and aimed at the “average” statistical figure for an area or subdivision. 100% of all properties are not average…there is a high and a low in there too. If you happen to be getting hit too high, you need to bring it to the attention of the local assessor/auditor.
There are simply too many properties out there for a government agency(with all of its efficiency, lol) to have a handle on every single home in their jurisdiction. That is what the appeals process was created for. Don’t feel like a heel, or a whiner if you don’t think your bill is right, or you can’t understand it completely. Ask questions and get answers!
Ryan Lundquist says
I always appreciate your “insider” insight as an Assessor. Thank you very much. Taking responsibility for property taxes often feels like a hurdle to many home owners because it feels like foreign territory. If someone cannot use the free process set up, they should definitely hire the right professional. I find there is quite a bit of confusion in the marketplace about what form to fill out and the process being “free”. It is technically a free process to ask the Assesor to reconsider value by filling out a “Decline in Value Prop 8” form, but this form is definitely not an appeal either (owners are charged $30 by Sacramento and many counties to actually appeal). This difference is a confusing bit for many owners (despite the fine print speaking clearly on the matter). I feel badly for owners who thought they appealed (Prop 8 form), but actually didn’t (should’ve filled out Application for Changed Assessment). Anyway, I type as I think. Thanks Lawrence. Great inisght and information.
Lawrence Roscoe says
And of course, hiring professionals to handle it for you is also a great choice if you feel your situation may be complex.