For many the real scare this time of years is not the monsters at our doors on Halloween but the property tax bill in the mail box.
Fortunately, as a direct result of Proposition 13 which limits increases in a property’s assessed value to two percent annually, most property owners have a good idea what their tax bill will be even before opening the envelope. However, like we do every year about this time, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association reminds taxpayers to carefully examine their latest property tax bill. Although not common, assessors sometimes do make mistakes.
Taxpayers should understand the various charges and make certain that they are not being assessed for more than they are legally obligated to pay. The best way to check a tax bill is to have your previous year’s bill handy for reference.
Checking the bill is especially important for those who bought their homes a few years ago at the height of the market. If the current home value is actually lower than the assessed value shown on the tax bill the owner is entitled to file for a reduction in taxes.
Typically the property tax bill will show three categories of charges. They are the General Tax Levy Voted Indebtedness and Direct Assessments.
General Tax Levy
The General Tax Levy is what most people think of when talking about property taxes. It is based on the assessed value of land improvements and fixtures. This charge usually makes up the largest part of the tax bill and it is the amount that is limited by Proposition 13.
Proposition 13 passed overwhelmingly by voters in 1978 established a statewide uniform tax rate of one percent of assessed value at the time of purchase and limited annual increases in assessed value to no more than two percent. From a practical standpoint this means that once the base year value of your property
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