Negotiate Your California Property Taxes

Recovering From the Shock

Odds are that you just received notice of proposed assessment in the mail and, after a stiff belt from the closest bottle to calm your nerves, you popped online to see if there is anything you can do to lessen the burden.  The good news is that you can appeal your property’s assessed value to your county’s Assessment Appeals Board.  The better news is that you may be able to avoid the administrative hassle of an Appeal by negotiating directly with your County Assessor.

First, Contact Your Assessor

Before starting the administrative appeals process, consider contacting your county assessor’s office to discuss the valuation of your property.  In my experience, both the taxpayer and the Assessor prefer to avoid the administrative hassle of going through the appeals process.  Thus, it is in everyone’s best interest to try to reach a settlement before filing the appeal.  In many counties, the reviewing Assessor will be the same person who will review your appeal.  If you reach a deal outside the appeals process, the Assessor can get the adjusted value signed off on by one or two people and you can be done with the process in a matter of weeks.

Further Negotiations After Filing An Appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board

If you decide to appeal the proposed roll year value, the first step will be to file an Application for Changed Assessment.  After filing the Appeal, you will be contacted by the county with an information request to substantiate your opinion of the value of your property.  This supporting data will take different forms depending on whether your property is commercial or residential.  During this period of review by the Assessor you will have the opportunity to negotiate the property value based on your supporting data.  It is likely that this will be the very same Assessor you would have worked with had you contacted the Assessor’s office prior to filing your Appeal.

If you reach a deal with the Assessor, the Assessor must then have their superiors review and sign off on the stipulation. Along the way, a hearing before the Assessment Appeals Board is scheduled.  If the tax payer is able to negotiate an acceptable value with the Assessor (and that Assessor’s superiors), prior to the hearing, a stipulation between the taxpayer and the Assessor will go before the Appeals Board.  If everything goes well, the stipulation will then be signed by the Board and mailed out to the tax payer.  Depending on the county, this can be a very lengthy process that we’ve had last over a year.

If you are unable to come to a stipulated value, the County will move forward with an administrative hearing before the Assessment Appeals Board.  This will be your final opportunity to plead your case short of instigating a civil action against the county.

Stanaland & Associates have had great success negotiating commercial and residential property values with many of the counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Please give us a call if you would like to discuss your options – 415-781-4000.