Friday, February 6, 2009

Beware bogus 'Property Tax Reassessment' letter

A come on looking to separate homeowners from $179 is inducing them with an official looking "property tax reassessment" mailing that may not be illegal but is certainly duplicitous. Don't fall for it.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - Some San Jose, CA area homeowners, and likely homeowners elsewhere, just received a dubious "Property Tax Reassessment" mailing from a company looking to net $179 per mailing.

It and similar mailings -- typically timed when real property taxes are due -- are quite bogus.

It's not a property tax reassessment, but a well-crafted come-on to get you to send the company $179 for a real property tax reassessment you may not need, is no longer available or you can otherwise obtain for free.

San Jose, CA is in Santa Clara County where appealing your property tax assessment is free and often granted without the homeowner doing anything. The Assessor periodically examines the property tax rolls and lowers property tax assessments as needed.

For property taxes due now, however, it's too late to file for a reassessment.

See a similar story: "Consumer Alert: Property Tax Reduction Offers"

The cunning company takes advantage of the fact that parcel numbers are a matter of public record to create a devious come on that may not be illegal but is certainly deceptive.

You can choose to pay someone to help you with your property tax assessment appeal, but why would you if it's free? Trickery could induce you to pony up.

The single-page, double-sided mailing (front) (back) from "Property Tax Reassessment, P.O. Box 25519, Los Angeles, CA 90025" comes with the homeowner's address, the correct parcel number and a claim that the property may be over assessed.

"Due to this estimated decline in market value, Property Tax Reassessment shows an estimated property tax savings of $1,532.76 annually," the come on goes on in one mailing.

Further attempting to separate a homeowner from $179 the mailing warns "Your reply is due Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009."

The second installment of bona fide property taxes in Santa Clara County was due for the 2008-2009 tax year beginning on Feb. 1. The tax is late if it isn't paid by April 10.

It's already too late in Santa Clara County to file to appeal a reassessment. The county's assessment notices go out in May and appeals can be filed from July 2 to September 15 of the same year.

The bogus mailing comes in a plain white business envelope that also contains a green, business-size, addressed, return envelope.

Return nothing.

Report such mailings to your assessor or tax collector and always beware of unsolicited fee-based offers to reduce your property tax -- especially those that arrive with an official-looking letterhead, right at property tax time.

Get the facts from your local tax office or assessor.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

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Anonymous said...

Lots of things are free but not necessarily efficient. I can clean my house for free or hire a maid. Paint my house for free or hire a painter.

Deadline Newsroom said...

Don't be so naive.

Somebody might sell you a Brooklyn Bridge.

This is not about house cleaning (unless you are talking about homeowners being taken to the cleaners) or house painting.

Right now, because it's too late to appeal your property tax assessment in Santa Clara County for the current tax year, this official looking come-on with a "due date" borders on fraud and it could cost some misled homeowners $179.

It's just bogus. This stuff makes the rounds every year.

What's more, the county is in the process of reassessing 200,000 properties for reduced assessments and with the median home price down more than 40 percent many assessments will fall. This is something that the assessor makes sure is down when the market tanks.

AND if you still don't like your assessment you can appeal it for free (on time) or you can pay someone to help you if you choose.

But you don't have to be taken by ripoffs.

"In recognition of the steep decline in real property market values, Assessor Larry Stone announced earlier today that his office has begun to proactively review nearly 200,000 residential properties to determine if they are eligible for a temporary reduction in assessed values."

Stay tuned here for the full story.

Geniusguy said...

I agree with the first comment. I can file my taxes for free but I'd much rather go to H&R Block. Is H&R Block a FRAUD AS WELL??? Not only that but it clearly states all disclosures to the customer/homeowner.

Deadline Newsroom said...

Did the mailing come with a disclosure that says the county deadline has passed for filing an appeal?


The BIG problem with this mailing, which commenters here continue missing, is that because this offer was mailed AFTER the deadline to file an appeal, spending $179 in Santa Clara County will get you absolutely ZERO, except nearly $200 lighter.

Do you understand that?


H&R Block doesn't tell you to file your taxes after April 15 without informing you of the penalties and fines you could incur.

This story isn't about house cleaning and house painting and it isn't about tax returns. And it isn't about hiring a professional to do something you'd rather not do.

It's about an offer that's virtually worthless in Santa Clara County because it ARRIVED TO LATE. HELLO?!!

You certainly can do whatever you want.

In fact, If you think this is such a good deal, go buy it AFTER the deadline for filing the appeal and let us know how you make out, Geniusguy.

Deadline Newsroom said...

The story specifically said TWICE:

"For property taxes due now, however, it's too late to file for a reassessment."


"It's already too late in Santa Clara County to file to appeal a reassessment. The county's assessment notices go out in May and appeals can be filed from July 2 to September 15 of the same year."