Homeowners warned of property tax scams
Firms offer re-evaluations – for a fee.
By ANDREW GALVIN THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
February 14, 2009
Attorney General Jerry Brown is warning California homeowners to beware of scam artists offering to help cut your property tax bill for a fee.
Deceptive mailers from companies that use official names like “Tax Adjusters,” “Tax Readjustment,” or “Tax Review” are arriving in mailboxes in areas where property values are falling – which is pretty much the whole state.
The companies want potential victims to believe they are government agencies.
“This blatant and costly scam holds out hope to homeowners that their property taxes will be reduced if they pay hundreds of dollars to a middleman to have their property re-evaluated,” Brown said in a news release. “In point of fact, homeowners can seek relief directly from their county assessor free of charge. Homeowners should be on high alert.”
If homeowners believe their property value has declined and they are paying too much in property taxes, the local tax assessor will review the property value for free for a possible downward assessment, Brown said.
According to the Orange County Assessor’s Web site, if you believe the market value of your home is lower than the assessed taxable value, “you are encouraged to submit a Request for Informal Assessment Review with market information on comparable property sales and listings in your area.”
Forms are available at the assessor’s Web site, www.ocgov.com/assessor,
and must be submitted by April 30.
Even if you don’t request a review, the assessor annually reviews the value of all property in the county each year and reduces taxable value when appropriate, the Web site says.
According to Brown, to avoid becoming a victim, homeowners should:
Never pay money for something they didn’t ask for.
Avoid a middleman – they should contact their local tax assessor’s office for property value reassessment.
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