The Alameda County Assessor's office is reminding property owners that it can reassess property at no charge to owners.
The agency said some property taxpayers have received solicitations from private companies
promising to secure a reduction in assessed value for a fee.
"This is a service that the County Assessor performs for free," Russ Hall of the Assessor's office said in a statement. "However, taxpayers are encouraged to wait until they receive their annual notification of assessed value from the Assessor in July 2009 before deciding if they wish to challenge their 2009-10 assessment or to pay a fee to a third party for assistance."
The Assessor is required to assess real estate at the property's Proposition 13 indexed base year value, or at the property's January 1 market value, whichever is less, according to Assessor Ron Thomsen.
"No taxpayer should pay more than their fair share of taxes," he said.
Most properties purchased over seven years ago have Proposition 13 base year values well below current market value, even considering the added effect of the 2 percent annual state-mandated inflation index.
Due to the decline in residential real estate values over the last few years, Thomsen said homeowners who purchased their property since January 1, 2002 will be having their properties reviewed before their 2009-10 Proposition 13 assessments are made to determine if a temporary reduction can be provided. Thomsen estimated that from his staff's early review, as many as 100,000 properties will receive reductions in assessment without any intervention or the need for costly assistance from outside parties.
All property owners will receive a pre-tax bill notification in July, detailing their 2009-10 assessment and indicating any reduction provided, he said.
In his statement, Hall said that,"Paying a private company as much as $100 for an opinion of value at this time is unnecessary. If the market value of your property has declined below its indexed base year assessed value, you will be assessed at that lower value by the Assessor at no charge when he finalizes the assessment roll in late June."
If property taxpayers wish to request an individual informal review of their property's 2009-10 assessed value after receiving the July 2009 notification, they may do so by returning a simple, printable form available on the Assessor's website http://www.acgov.org/assessor/decline-in-value-forms.htm.
Property owners not in agreement with their 2009-10 assessment, who still wish to formally file an assessment appeal for the 2009-10 tax year will have from July 2, 2009 until September 15, 2009 to file an application with the assessment appeals board.