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Reduce your property tax

Posted: October 23, 2008 8:20 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

It's that time of the year again - property tax time.

If you purchased your home in the last three to four years, chances are your home's value has dropped lower than your purchase price.

Before you write that check for taxes, it is essential for you to look at the assessed value on your property tax bill, and find out if your home is still worth that - the value your property tax is based on.

If the answer is No, you should take advantage of Proposition 8 (from 1978) and have your home reassessed. But you must do so before Dec. 31, 2008.

Two decades ago, California voters passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that allows a temporary reduction in assessed value when a property suffers a "decline-in-value." A decline-in-value occurs when the current market value of your property is less than the current assessed value as of Jan. 1 of the current year.

Here is what you do:

Step 1: Visit the Los Angeles County Assessor's office Web site, download a "Decline-In-Value Reassessment Application."

Step 2: On your claim/application form, provide the Assessor with information that supports your opinion that the market value for your property is less than the assessed value. The best supporting documentation is information on sales of comparable properties. You should select two comparable sales that sold as close to Jan. 1 as possible, but no later than March 31, 2008. You may query the Assessor's database for sales in your neighborhood which is also available on the Assessors' Web site.

Step 3: Submit the form with your supporting information. An appraiser at the Assessor's office will review your claim form and the information you provide. Other sales information available to the Assessor may also be considered. If the market value as of Jan. 1 is less than the trended base value, your assessed value will be lowered to the market value for the fiscal year beginning on July 1. The adjusted value will be reflected on your annual tax bill.

For more information on Proposition 8 and to download an application, visit: assessor.lacounty.gov/extranet/default.aspx, Click on "Tax Saving Programs" on the Left Side Bar, then select "Decline of Value" link.

Some of the other property tax saving programs that may be of interest are:
n Proposition 58 & 193, property tax relief for property transfers between parents and children and from grandparents to grandchildren. If parents sell their home to their child, they can transfer the current property tax to the child;

n Proposition 60 & 90 for homeowners 55 or older: You may buy or construct a new home of equal or lesser value than your existing home and transfer the current property tax to your new property.

For any of the above programs, visit the L.A. county assessor's Web site at assessor.lacounty.gov.

Lily Qian Falzone is a mortgage consultant with Pacific Funding Mortgage. She specializes in FHA, VA loans, and First Time Homebuyers Loan Programs. She can be reached at (661) 803-5594. Pacific Funding Mortgage has been servicing the Santa Clarita Valley since 1993.

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