Property Tax Disputes
Many property owners are over-assessed by their local Assessor’s Office and pay more in real estate taxes than is necessary. The tax attorneys at Moskowitz, LLP provide personalized and skilled representation for property tax disputes and have a strong record of appeals for private residential properties, condominiums, apartment buildings, office buildings, as well as retail, commercial and industrial properties.
We can help you navigate the complex and time-consuming property tax appeals process in the Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, and San Mateo.
Property Tax Appeal Basics
You don’t directly appeal your property taxes, you appeal your property’s assessed value. The first thing that needs to be done is to conduct a thorough analysis of the property. We determine your property’s fair market value based on the sales of comparable properties and compare that with county records to determine whether or not the assessed value is accurate. If the value is inflated, we file an assessment appeal with the County Assessor’s Office. If they refuse to reduce the assessed value to an accurate amount, we appeal to the Assessment Appeals Board or to the County Superior Court.
Property Tax Reassessments and Proposition 13
Proposition 13 was enacted in 1978 as a response to exorbitant property taxes in California. It effectively reduced and set the property tax rate in the state to 1% of a property’s value with a small increase each year up to a maximum of 2% regardless of appreciation. Property tax reassessments are made, however, whenever there is a change of ownership or new construction on a property.
There are limited exceptions to the general rule, but they may be lost if the transaction is not properly structured. For example, parents can pass their house to their children without a reassessment. However, if one child then buys out another, the benefits are lost and the property will be reassessed. Through careful estate planning and the use of a revocable living trust, the parent’s estate planning objectives can be met without a property tax increase.
Individuals aged 55 and older and those who are permanently or severely disabled are also exempt from property tax reassessments; they also have a one-time exemption from reassessment for a replacement residence in the same county or in another county with a similar ordinance.
The Proposition 13 rules and exemptions are very complex. With careful attention to property tax planning, our real estate and tax attorneys can help you save a significant amount of money in property taxes over the course of many years.
San Francisco area property tax dispute lawyers
The immediate value of a successful property tax dispute is a tax savings for the year being appealed. You also benefit, however, from a reduced tax assessment for many years into the future. Most of the property tax disputes handled by the seasoned real estate and tax professionals at Moskowitz, LLP result in significant real estate property tax reductions and a large number are reduced to less than the prior tax period. For more information and assistance, call our San Francisco offices at (888) 829-3325 or (415) 394-7200.