County Real Property Tax Assessment Appeal

Should you file a real property tax assessment appeal with the county?  Should you have your real property reappraised? The county assessed value of your real estate should equal what the property would easily sell for (appraised value). If the assessed value exceeds what the property would easily sell for you should file an appeal with the county. If the property is affected by a diminution in value caused by declining prices and market conditions, detrimental conditions i.e. cracked slab, landslide, construction defects, condemnation, environmental problems, or other causes you should file an appeal. Property tax appeals can be filed on any real estate including a home, ranch, vacant land, apartment building, commercial, industrial, or special use property.

  1. The first step before you file a real property tax appeal.You should get a well-documented appraisal prepared by a certified appraiser familiar with county assessment procedures who is familiar with appraisal methodologies for assessment appeals.
  2. Second step, under the Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250) and The Information Practices Act (Civil Code section 1798) make a written request for a copy of the appraisal used by the county assessor to determine your assessed value.The first requires the State Board of Equalization to make certain records available to everyone and the later governs individual taxpayer’s rights to see their own records. Generally, the county assessor should comply within 10 days.

You will be up against experienced appraisers that work for the county assessors office. If you are not experienced in appraisal methodology and you show up with just a print out of comparable sales without a certified documented appraisal utilizing the appropriate methods, research, and approaches to value to arrive at a credible value conclusion, your chances of a successful appeal are greatly diminished.  Without a well-documented certified appraisal from an experienced appraiser, you will significantly limit your chances of a successful assessment appeal.

Did you know?  

  1. The County Appeals Board operates under the presumption that the County Assessor is correct in their assessment of your property. In addition, many times the board of appeals is made up of at least one former or active real estate appraiser.
  2. You must provide substantial evidence (an appraisal) utilizing the appropriate appraisal methodologies to support your real property assessment appeal claim. As an appraisal expert and designated member of the Appraisal Institute we can both review the assessor’s appraisal report and provide you with a well-researched and documented appraisal of your property. In addition, our appraisers are the most qualified to question the appraisal methodology used by the Assessor in determining the assessed value of your property.
  3. An experienced appraiser can determine if the appraisal by the county assessor is in compliance with current appraisal methodology and assessment practices as defined by the Assessment Appeals Manual. The key to challenging your real property assessment is to provide well documented “evidence” so you have the documentation you need to be able to refute inaccurate technical valuation claims that may be made by the assessor. A reappraisal by an experienced expert appraiser and Member of the Appraisal Institute can provide the documented “evidence” you need in challenging your property tax assessment. In defense of the appraisal prepared for you, the ability to cross exam the County Appraiser by a real estate appraisal expert can often times make the difference of whether your tax assessment appeal is successful or not.
  4. When filing the appeal you should request a finding of fact in writing and submit it to the clerk. This requires the assessment appeals board to discuss all of the material points raised by the application and typically requires a statement by the board of which appraisal methods were used to determine the appraised value of your property. Rule 325 of the Assessment Appeals Manual generally states findings of fact must be rendered within 45 days.
  5. You can request a copy of the tape recorded hearing within 60 days following the final determination if you plan to appeal the board’s decision on a judicial review.
  6. Again, the first step in any property tax assessment appeal is to have a reappraisal of your real estate by an expert to provide documented evidence of your property value.

How does assessed value affect my taxes?

The assessed value of property by the county and the tax rate applied to this value equals the amount of tax money each property owner is required to pay. The county Assessment Appeals process concerns only the assessed value (appraisal) of your real estate either residential home or income property.

Who determines the assessed value of my California real estate and how is it determined?

The County Assessor’s office of each county, is elected by the people, and is directed by the California Constitution to assess all taxable property within each County. By law, the assessment and appraisal of property involves forming an opinion of a property’s value by a real estate appraiser with the assessor’s office and listing that value on the assessment roll. In preparing the assessment roll, appraisers in the Assessor’s office estimate a property’s full cash value utilizing several methods. Appraisal is an art and not an exact science and the appraiser’s opinion of value is based on consideration of comparable sales, cost data and in the case of other types of real estate, income & expenses, market capitalization rates, and other relevant appraisal methods used to determine value by an appraiser with the County Assessor’s office.

What if I disagree with the assessors appraisal and assessed value of my real estate either home or income property? Your first step is to get an appraisal prepared by a Qualified State Certified Real Estate Appraiser. Then click on the real property tax appeal link above and file the appropriate forms for a tax appeal.

Differences of appraisal opinion can and do arise. Real property owners have a right to challenge their real estate assessments by filing an application for changed assessment with the Assessment Appeals Board. The key is to provide a well-documented appraisal report by a qualified Real Estate Appraiser who is a State Certified General appraiser and a designated member of the Appraisal Institute.

You are also urged to contact the Assessor to verify the circumstances of the assessment. This will assist you in understanding the method used in the appraisal of your real estate. You may also ask the appraisers at the Assessor’s office for an informal review. Armed with a well-documented appraisal report prepared by a State Certified Real Estate Appraiser may result in an adjustment without requiring further action. Be sure to check with the Assessor for any form or filing deadline that may apply to an informal review.

What is the Assessment Appeals Board?

Determinations of assessed value are made by either a three member Assessment Appeals Board or a Hearing Officer. These individuals are appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve as the local board of equalization. Generally, one of them has experience as a appraiser, real estate broker, CPA or preferably a real estate attorney. Their role is to determine the value of your property based upon enough evidence presented by you and on the other side the Assessor’s appraiser. If they have appraisers on their side you should be prepared with a well-documented real estate appraisal report prepared by your California appraiser.

Having your case heard before a hearing officer is considered an expedient and convenient alternative to the formal Board quasi-judicial proceedings. However, I do not recommend informal hearings. An assessment appeal is a formal hearing and allows you to request a finding of fact.

When do I have to file an Assessment Appeal application?

Applications for regular appeals must be filed with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board between July 2 and not later than September 15 each year. Applications for “SUPPLEMENTAL” or “ESCAPE” assessments must be filed no later than sixty (60) days after the Notice of Assessment. Roll Change/Escape Assessment filing dates are within 60 days after the mailing of the roll change assessment notice or escape tax bill.

Who can file an Assessment Appeal application?

Any property owner who disagrees with the assessed value (appraisal) of his/her property may file an appeal. Although not required, a property owner may have a real estate tax attorney, home or commercial appraiser, family member or professional tax agent file on his/her behalf.

Do I have to file an application every year?

Possibly. If you disagree with the assessed value of your property, can support it with evidence such as a residential home or commercial appraisal, and are not satisfied with the outcome of an informal review with the Assessor, you may wish to file an assessment appeal application.

When will my hearing be scheduled?

Most appeals heard by an Assessment Appeal Board are scheduled in twelve-eighteen months; Residential appeals heard by a Hearing Officer are scheduled in six-nine months. Revenue and Taxation Code 1604, however, allows up to two years for an assessment appeal to be decided.

What happens at the hearing?

At the hearing, you and the Assessor are given the opportunity to present factual evidence to substantiate your opinions of value. It is recommended that you request a finding of fact. This will require the appeals board to provide you with a written finding of the facts including a determination of how the valuation (appraisal) was arrived at and what appraisal method or appraisal methods were use in forming the boards opinion. All testimony is presented under oath and is recorded. You and the Assessor may question each other regarding the evidence presented. The assessor will have his appraiser representative at the hearing. Likewise, you should be prepared and have a residential appraisal or commercial appraisal prepared by qualified appraisers for the hearing. Moreover, the appraiser should also be present as your representative at the hearing to answer any technical appraisal questions that may arise in your case.

The Board or Hearing Officer will either advise you of their decision at the conclusion of the hearing or you will be notified of their decision by mail at a later date. This decision is final, however, it may be appealed to Superior Court. You will have 45 days from the final decision to appeal. Any appeal must be based upon factual evidence.

Disclaimer: All information that we provide on our web site is of a general nature. It is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Even though we strive to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that such information is accurate. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the facts of their particular situation. We are not attorneys, tax professionals, financial planners or accountants. The above is not intended to give advice on legal, tax, financial planning, or accounting matters. Please check with your attorney, tax advisor, financial planner, and accountant for information regarding said matters. We do not intend to provide appraisal of any specific property.

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