You regularly pay your property taxes but you are not completely sure about how they work. In this article we answer some of the common questions most folk have regarding property taxes in San Diego County.
First off many people are finding that their property valuation is higher than earlier while on the other hand the real estate market is pretty much in the doldrums. This is possible because your property valuation is done vis a vis the value of your property when you bought it. Therefore if the current value of your property is higher than when you bought it, your property is likely to be eligible for an increase in assessment.

Another reason your taxes may be increasing is because the tax is not pegged to your property but to the consumer price index. The consumer price index is a metric which measures the overall change in the cost of living. The good news is that the increase of taxes is capped at 2%. The bad news is that there have only been three years when the increase of the consumer price index has been less than 2%.

People are commonly finding that currently the property assessment shows a value than what may be greater than the current property value. This may be the case but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will automatically be eligible for an appeal. You will have to ensure that the value of your property as on the first day of the calendar year i.e. 1st January is what is being used for assessment purposes, and not any period thereafter.

If you still find that you are eligible for an appeal you have till 30th November to do so. In case you do appeal keep in mind that due to the current market scenario, there are more than 40,000 appeals filed this year which is 10 times the normal number of appeals made in any year. However, there is a two year time limit for a decision on your appeal.

You may also find that you had appealed your property tax assessment and won the appeal but are still being taxed on the old amount. This is most probably the case if you had appealed after July 1st. This is happening because it takes time for the system to be updated and it is best if you just pay on the basis of the old amount and you will be paid a refund in the first part of next quarter.

Before we get further into appeals you should know that the real deadline for payment of your property taxes is Dec 10th. Any delay after that and you straight away face a fine of $10 and 10% for every quarter that you are late. That doesn’t mean if you rush to pay your tax bill in end December you save on the penalty; you will still be fined the full 10% plus $10. After a delay of 2 such quarters (i.e. July 1st) you will be fined 1.5% of the unpaid tax amount per month.

In case you are looking for a payment plan we are sorry to tell you that there is none. In every circumstance you must pay your first installment by December 10th and your second installment by July 10th. The only people who are waived from these deadlines are active-duty members of the military who are serving abroad.

So if you do find that you are eligible for an appeal then you can do so by December 1st at 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 402 in San Diego. Alternatively you can make an informal appeal between March 1st and May 30th by filing a written request. The result of this informal request can not be appealed but it must be reviewed by July 1st which is that start of the next fiscal year.

In order to support your appeal you should have comparable property sales data of your area. Alternatively, you can have completed a recent appraisal. The comparable property sales data should be from November of the last year to March of the current year. Such data can be acquired from your real estate agent, websites or the county assessor’s website.

You should know that most of the time even if the original appeal is rejected, a compromise is sought with the property owner. You can also file fresh appeals every year as long as your property value continues to fall.

Finally, you should know that there are plenty of companies that offer to file your appeal for a fee. It’s best to actually do this process yourself as it is not complicated and there are a lot of scams like this in the market.

Good Luck!

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