No more Assessment appeal filing fees
Taking a small but positive step for local taxpayers, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has just offered a token to property owners who are dissatisfied with their assessed values for real property tax purposes by repealing the $40 fee for filing an assessment appeal. Adopted in 2007, this filing fee has now been eliminated effective as of November 2015.
Repeal the fee
County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who spearheaded the move to repeal the fee, argued that the filing fee was essentially inequitable. “Charging a member of the public a $40 fee for the right to appeal, and then keeping the fee even after we acknowledge our error—there’s just no way to justify that,” he noted. “It’s patently unfair to make a mistake, and then charge a member of the public who has to go to the time and trouble of getting us to correct it. That’s just adding insult to injury.”
Testified against the adoption of the fee
County Assessor Larry Stone, who weighed in favor of the repeal as well, also testified against the adoption of the fee in 2007. “I thought it was wrong for the county to charge a taxpayer a processing fee when ultimately the property owner’s opinion of value may be accurate,” he asserted. Many other California counties also charge no filing fees; a few counties refund the fee in the event the appeal is successful, and one county charges fees based on the property’s value.
Taxpayers filed over 5,400 appeals
In fiscal year 2014, taxpayers filed over 5,400 appeals, generating $218,000 in fees for the county, out of total revenues of in excess of $5 billion. Simitian pointed out that, while repealing the fee would impact the county’s general fund, this was a relatively minor consideration. “Frankly, I think people are tired of being nickel-and-dimed by the government. It’s a fundamental issue of fairness,” Simitian said. In support of the repeal, Stone also pointed out that Santa Clara County is one of only nine California counties that provide preliminary notices to property owners of the assessed value of their property before making those values final, thus allowing taxpayers an opportunity to review their assessed value on a preliminary basis, potentially avoiding the need for an appeal.