Don’t pay for services provided FREE by the Assessor
- Requests for assessment reductions (Proposition 8)
- Applications for a homeowners’ exemption
The Assessor’s Office provides these and many other services, free of charge, and often through a simple, on-line application process. Contact the Assessor’s Office before signing a contract or sending money.
Some companies will knowingly encourage homeowners to apply for an assessment reduction that property owners are likely to receive automatically. Typically, they charge a fee that may be in excess of $200. Starting January 1, 2009, the Assessor's Office has begun reviewing nearly 200,000, nearly half of all homes in the County, properties to determine which properties will receive a reduction. While the review has begun, property owners are urged to wait until the Assessor’s Office completes the review in late June. After the review is completed every property owner, all 460,000 property owners, will be sent a notification card.
The Assessor also cautioned taxpayers to be wary of solicitations promising reduced assessed values in exchange for a fee. Property owners do not need to pay a fee to a private company for a service taxpayers receive from the Assessor’s Office without charge. By soliciting taxpayers before the Assessor’s notification card is mailed, these companies are encouraging homeowners to pay a fee to apply for a reduction in their assessment, that they are likely to receive automatically from the Assessor’s Office in late June. As a result the Assessor’s Office advises property owners to wait until you get your notification card before deciding whether you want the Assessor to review the assessed value for reductions. 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. In 2008, 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 will likely receive at least the same level of reduction, and perhaps substantially more. Taxpayers who believe their assessed value is incorrect are encouraged to apply on-line at www.sccassessor.org/prop8 for a free review. For additional information, see links below.
Owners of homes, which may or may not have a Homeowner’s Exemption on file with the Assessor, have been receiving solicitations from private companies, to provide a completed exemption claim form for a fee. The Assessor's Office has never charged for filing the simple, one-page Homeowners’ Exemption claim form. Property owners may file an exemption claim on the property they occupy as their principal place of residence directly with the Assessor at no charge and without using a service offered by any company. These private companies request that the homeowner provide their social security number and signature.
Consumers who feel they have been victimized or would like assistance receiving a refund can contact the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, which has issued a consumer alert (Below is a link to the DA's website). Complaints can also be made to the Better Business Bureau at http://complaints.bbb.org/Welcome.asp or to your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector, 1-800-372-8347. Postal officials have the authority to investigate and fine companies for mail fraud and similar scams.
Below is additional information about PTARC:
- Attorney General--Consumer Alert
Beware of Property Tax Reduction Scams
- County officials warn of property assessment 'scam'
Local county assessors are warning residents not to be duped by official-looking letters from companies that offer to charge homeowners a fee to help them file for a lower property valuation, possibly lowering their taxes.
- Media Release, February 2009
200,000 Properties to be reviewed for potential reductions.
- Attorney General Brown issues Consumer Alert
Attorney General Brown: Homeowners Should be on High Alert for Property Tax Scams
- Property Tax Adjuster
Sample of Solicitation for services provided by the Assessor's Office for Free
- Assessor warns consumers about property tax letters, San Jose Mercury ew, February 19, 2009
- District Attorney Issues Consumer Advisory
BEWARE OF PRIVATE COMPANIES CHARGING SANTA CLARA COUNTY RESIDENTS TO FILE REQUESTS FOR REDUCTION IN ASSESSED VALUES
- Attorney General Sues to Block Property Tax Rip-Off
Attorney General filed a suit against two brothers who "ripped off homeowners" seeking help in reducing their property tax assessments. Seeks end to scam and $2.5 million in penalties. AG urges taxpayers to "contact a local county tax assessor's office for a free property value reassessment."
- PTARC Sample
Sample of Homeowner's Exemption Solicitation for services provided by the Assessor's Office for Free