The 2nd installment of property tax bills in California are coming due so I thought it was a good time to bring this up. If you held onto your home through the economic downturn you likely saw your property tax bill decrease (thanks to Proposition 8 that was passed by California voters in 1978), but you may soon be rewarded with a larger tax bill (if it hasn’t happened already).
You may think, “What? I thought Proposition 13 keeps my home’s assessed value from increasing more than 2% a year, thus making it impossible for my tax bill to increase by more than 2%?” While that is true the most your tax bill can increase AFTER IT HAS DECREASED is not an annual cap but based on what your assessed value was BEFORE the value/tax bill was reduced by Prop 8. If you saw a large decrease in your tax bill after the recession took hold and property values crashed, you could be seeing an equally large increase in your tax bill, much more than 2%, as home prices have recovered to the levels there were in 07′-08′.
It still cannot increase to an amount that is more than it would have had the value/tax bill never decreased, and county tax assessors are not hitting people with this increase all at once so it is usually taking multiple years before the tax bill gets back to where it was pre-recession.
What does my county say my home is worth?
You should have received a tax bill from the county in the Summer, but if you don’t have it you can always cheek their websites…
What can I do if I think my assessment is too high?
If you feel that your home’s new assessment is higher than actual market value you can ask for a reassessment. Most of the links above have instructions on how to start this process. I can say this is difficult and no guarantee that it will work, but I can also say I have numerous clients that have been successful in having their home’s assessed value decreased, which in turn reduced their tax bill. I can be done! Whatever you do beware of 3rd parties offering help, or pretending to be representatives of the county, asking for large fees to help you process this. Your county’s assessor’s office may have a small administrative fee for the reassessment, but it’s generally not much and definitely not paid to a 3rd party.