California homeowners whose homes have dropped below their assessed values (this includes the majority of CA’s homes) may petition their county assessor for a reduction in their property taxes. They are likely to have a long wait, however, before they see any benefit from their petition efforts. County assessors statewide are seeing a record number of petitions to lower property assessments, and are scrambling to keep up. Unfortunately, most are operating with diminished staffs, thanks to the state’s fiscal problems. State law permits county assessors to take up to two years to process these requests. Many applicants will find themselves waiting for that entire period, and paying taxes on overvalued assessments in the meantime. On the bright side, after a two year period has passed, the homeowner will be eligible to petition for a refund of the overpayment.

first tuesday take: In spite of the potential wait, a petition to reduce property assessments, and consequentially property taxes, is a wise choice for the millions of property owners who are currently paying too much. Brokers and agents who understand the process of submitting this petition can earn good will from homeowners and investors by advising them on the process. While brokers will gain little in the short term by getting property owners into a better property tax situation, the help and expertise that they provide will not be forgotten when the owner eventually chooses to sell their current residence or investment. For more information on the process of petitioning for a lowered assessment, see first tuesday’s article: “Reassessment and tax reduction assistance down on the farm”.

Re. Hoping to lower your property taxes? Keep waiting.” from Mercury News