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Company charging homeowners for free tax reassessment

Letters look like an official bill

Posted: February 5, 2009 12:52 a.m.
Updated: February 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

Local residents might have noticed an official-looking letter in their mail lately, touting a rate of $179 to file a homeowner's property tax reassessment form.

Of course, they could just opt to download the one-page form off the Los Angeles County Web site and file it for free.

Los Angeles-based Property Tax Reassessment mailed the two-page letters that look very much like a bill.

The company advertises a filing fee of $179, or $209 after Feb. 26.

"Right now, the scams out there are rampant," said City Councilman Bob Kellar, who is a real estate agent. "They're taking advantage of people."

If homeowners have questions about lowering their property tax by proving their home's value has decreased, Kellar advised they speak with a real estate agent or the county assessor's office.

A Property Tax Assessment customer service representative named Thomas said Wednesday the company serves, "pretty much California."

"Some people don't have time. We're just offering a service," said the representative, who didn't give his last name.

A man who said he was a supervisor refused to answer any further questions and said all media inquiries must be submitted by mail.

The company notes in the fine print of the letter that, "Property Tax Reassessment is not a government agency."

The Los Angeles County Assessor's Office provides the reassessment form for free, requiring the homeowner to provide two recent homes sales, preferably in their neighborhood.

"There's no benefit (in paying)," said Rayleen, an intermediate assessor who asked her last name not be used. "They could do this for free."

She said what Property Tax Reassessment does is not illegal but certainly unnecessary.

On the county form, a homeowner must list two recent comparable home sales that were less than the current assessed value of their home.

Property tax bills are sent out in October.

For information about property tax reassessment, or to download the necessary form visit www.assessor.lacounty.gov.

jpremako@the-signal.com

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