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Blog Today's Marketplace What the Assessor Won't Tell You About the Property Tax Relief You Were Given
What the Assessor Won't Tell You About the Property Tax Relief You Were Given
Today's Marketplace
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When the real estate market is decreasing like it is now and has gone below your assessed value, you are allowed a break in your property taxes. Prop 8 Reduction is an exemption to Prop 13 which determines all property taxes today for property owners in California. Prop 13 was put into place in 1978 to limit the property taxes paid by taxpayers. Prop 8 exemption is an exemption to Prop 13 which states that your property tax value should not be higher than the current market value.

This appears to be good news however, it is only a TEMPORARY solution. Prop 8 is generally something you have to file for. The way Prop 8 "decline in value"  works is like this, your valuation date for the current fiscal year is January 1st. So, the comparable sales for your home for Prop 8 purposes, need to have closed within the first three months of the year; from January 1 to March 31 for that given year based on the language of the law. For example to get a Prop 8 reduction for 2009, the comparable sales must have closed between January 1st, 2009 and March 31, 2009 based on the law. Basically in order to get a reduction in value there has to be closed sales of similar properties within the first quarter of the designated year that are lower than your assessed value.

The problem here has many reasons: one of the worst is that the first three months of the year is the slowest time for comparable sales because those tranactions started during the holiday season which is the slowest time for real estate. Real estate sales take 30-60 days to close, so most of the sales that close within the first quarter of the year opened escrow during the holiday season. The sales to choose from are more sparse than later on. When the market movement really starts to show during the second and third quarters of the year you are out of luck because those sales are outside the perimeters for a Prop 8 Exemption reduction.

The reason why this is not the best solution is that it is only a SHORT TERM reduction in value, as I stated earlier, so when the market starts to climb back up your old base value gets restored to what it would have been if it trended normally and you never had the reduction. Many alleged tax specialists pop up in declining markets often sending you mail claiming to be able to save you on property taxes. Unfortunately, peopleoften pay good money to have their taxes lowered only to have their tax bills revert to higher rates once the market recovers. The truth is you never have to pay the Assessor for any service or review of your value - you pay for that service with your property taxes already!

A typical example of a Prop 8 Decline in Value on an average home in California. So, I bought a house in 2005, at the hight of the market, for $500,000, at a 2% trend my current assessed value for 2008 is $530,604. My market value as of the first of 2008 is close to $430,000 and as a knowledgeable tax payer I apply for a Prop 8 Exemption to get a reduction. So, for 2008 I have a nice break, Im paying property taxes on a value that is $100,000 below my trended base value and saving close to $1,250! The real estate market goes down and based on the Assessors review, the Prop 8 Reduction value is still given for 2009. So for 2009 I am paying based on the $430,000 which is even better this year since my trended base in 2009 would have been $541,216 and so I am saving close to $1,390! Fantastic!

The real estate market turns around, and the market values are rising and for 2010 my market value is higher than $500,000, so the Assessor changes my Prop 8 Decline value to $500,000 which is lower than my 2010 trended base value of $552,040. Definitly, not as nice as having $430,000 as my value. Yet, I am still saving money and this year my Prop 8 Reduction value is $52,000 lower than my trended base value I am saving $650 a year in property taxes. Its now 2011 the real estate market is rising again and now my market value is near $600,000 and the assessor restores my value to the trended base, which now is $563,080. So, I'm paying $7,038 in taxes. If I still had that $430,000 property tax base

There is a way in California to PERMANENTLY reduce your property tax base in today's declining market, utilizing Prop 13 and essentially bypassing Prop 8 and all of its limitations. Additionally, find out how to avoid reassessments when you have inherited property and also how to utilize all the exemptions allowed by Prop 13.

About the Author: Valerie Faltas, Property Tax Expert has been involved in all facets of real estate for over ten years including assessments, appraisals, estates and trusts, investing and much more. She is a Certified Property Tax Appraiser, Licensed Residential Appraiser and a member of the International Association of Assessment Officers. As a real estate investor and advisor she is well versed in all aspects of real estate. To contact Valerie Faltas go to her website:
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Darin Redding
Written on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 00:44 by Darin Redding

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Last Updated on Saturday, 29 January 2011 20:05

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