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Nearly 200,000 properties, half of the County, to be reviewed for possible temporary reductions in ... - page 2 / 3





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value is to wait until you get your notification card,” said Stone.

The Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office has a nearly 20-year track record of proactively evaluating and providing reductions to reflect the declining market place. Last year, the Assessor’s Office temporarily reduced the assessed value on over 45,000 properties for a total reduction in excess of $5 billion. “Everyone who received a reduction last year is nearly certain to receive at least the same level of reduction, and perhaps substantially more,” said Stone. “While I rarely make predictions, I fully expect that the number of property owners receiving reductions will increase this year.”

When the market value of a property drops below the assessed value, Proposition 8, passed by voters in 1978, requires the assessor to “temporarily” reduce the assessed to reflect the low market value.

The Proposition 8 process is rather straightforward. Between now and June, the Assessor’s Office will review the assessed value of nearly 200,000 properties to determine if the market value, as of January 1, has fallen below the original assessed value (typically, that is the purchase price). Most residential properties will be evaluated through the use of computer assisted analysis and detailed review by appraisers. A separate analysis is performed for residential properties within each of the county’s eleven high school districts to derive the level of reduction for properties in each jurisdiction. This analysis takes into account location and other relevant factors from thousands of recent transactions in the Assessor’s database. In addition, the office’s 70 appraisers will perform individual appraisals on commercial, industrial, custom homes or special properties which often require a site visit. “While taxpayers are certainly anxious to know their assessed value, we urge everyone to wait until they receive their notification cards in late June. Otherwise staff will be answering calls instead of reducing values,” said Stone.

Once all properties are assessed, the Assessor’s Office will mail an assessment notification card to every property owner. This year, that notice is expected to arrive during the last week of June. (For reasons explained later, that notice will be arriving in June rather than May.) If a property owner disagrees with the value on the notification card, they are encouraged to contact the Assessor’s Office to request a review. A simple interactive form is available on line on the assessor’s website www.sccassessor.org/prop8. Requests for review can also be made by phone, fax, mail, e-mail or in person.

If a value reduction is appropriate, as determined by the Assessor prior to August 15, 2009, the assessed value will be changed and the revised assessment will be reflected on the September property tax bill. The first installment is delinquent if not paid by December 10th.

Any changes agreed upon after August 15, will be processed through an assessment roll change. Since an assessment roll changes involves a more time consuming administrative process, it is unlikely that a corrected tax bill can be processed prior to the December 10th delinquency date. To avoid late charges and penalties, property owners are required to pay the first installment of taxes by December 10th, even if the Assessor’s Office has agreed to a reduction. (By the State Constitution, the Assessor’s Office is completely separate from the Tax Collector’s Office, which is overseen by the Board of Supervisors. The Assessor is independently elected every four years.)

In addition, Stone encourages property owners who have requested a review, but have not received a written response by August 15, to consider filing a formal assessment appeal by the September 15 deadline. Appeals are heard, within two years, by an independent, quasi-judicial body comprised of

Assessor’s Media Release

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