Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Santa Clara Property Taxes -- Continued

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post was the representative from the Assessor's office eventually gave me the name and number of the assessor for my parcel.  Based on the standard 2% increase in my taxable property value, I had a feeling that the Assessor that reviewed my parcel wasn't really doing his job.

My assessor's name is Chris Hughes.

I actually remembered that name from 2 years back when I first bought my townhouse. I was asked to call Chris if I had any questions about my property taxes, and guess what, he never answered, or returned my numerous calls and voicemails. My guess is he probably won't this time either.

Chris actually called me back!

Chris sounded like a very reasonable individual and explained to me that back in Jan 2009, the property values in Palo Alto were still holding on, and it took some time before the value in the greater Palo Alto area declined from the overall recession.  In other words, even armed with my appraiser's report of my house being worth $120,000 less (as of August 2009), they would have denied my petition because they only base property values on the beginning of the year (or within 90 days of that date).  That was irrelevant anyways, cause according to Chris, there was nothing he can do because, guess what? I missed the deadline.

Chris did offer a very important nugget of information:

If next June comes around and I still believe the assessed value of my home is greater than the current market value, I should go through the informal petition process.  This can either be done through their website or by calling him directly.

Chris suggested an informal vs. a formal process because the informal process is much quicker.  In addition, if you are denied during the informal review, you can always have the formal review anyways.  The current formal review process takes upwards of 2 years, since everyone is trying to get their property reassessed in this recession.

Best bet is to go online next June and file an informal petition for review.  Until then, I'm stuck paying my $10,045 in property taxes for 2009.  Yikes.

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