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. Every year, the Assessor proactively reviews the majority of all residential properties to determine if they should receive a reduction. While the review has begun, property owners are urged to wait until the Assessor’s Office completes it in late June. After the review is completed, the results of the proactive reviews will be reflected in Notifications of Assessed Value, sent to over 460,000 property owners.
The Assessor also cautions 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, which 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 long track record of proactively evaluating and providing reductions to reflect the declining market place. At the worst point of the "great recession", the Assessor temporarily reduced the assessed value on approximately 135,000 properties. 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: