Homeowners appeal low property values


"Wow. Total of $5,434," says Oskar Kalbali.

Kalbali is frustrated. Frustrated by the housing market, that his rental property isn't selling, but most of all, he's frustrated by how much the Santa Clara County Assessor thinks his house is worth.

"$406,442. This house in that area goes for 300,000," says Oskar.

Kalbali insists his recent tax bill is wrong.

"We get people who call in and believe they are entitled to an adjustment in their assessed value because of their property has dropped significantly since the lien date or valuation date of January 1st," says Larry Stone, the Santa Clara County assessor.

Calls to the assessor's office are up 62 percent from this time last year, after the bills went out in September. Appeals are also up.

"They felt that since their property was not at the same value, they couldn't sell their property for the same thing last year, their tax bill should be reduced accordingly," said Martha Williams, a Santa Clara County tax collector.

Which is Oskar Kalbali's point. His appeal was denied.

The general rule of thumb is, if the market value drops below the assessment value, there's a discrepancy. Several counties have re-assessed based on that scenario as well as if the house has recently been built or bought.

In Alameda County, 6,103 residents have asked to have their properties re-assessed. So far, 2,900 have had their taxes lowered. Of the 6,200 appeals filed in San Mateo County, 3,000 property taxes have been reduced.

The reductions also mean a loss in revenue for the state and counties. Santa Clara County lost $30 million this year after voluntarily lowering thousands of tax bills. Much of that money helps pay for public education.

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