By: Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer
Adopting one of the best practices suggested by the California State Board of Equalization, the Board of Supervisors this week approved a proposal to improve the process for assessment appeals in Orange County. An assessment appeal is filed when a taxpayer disagrees with the amount the Assessor has appraised a home or business for property tax purposes.
“It is critically important to protect the right of taxpayers to appeal decisions of the Assessor,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer said. “This includes ensuring the most efficient process possible to allow appeals to be heard in a timely fashion.”
20,000 people file assessment appeals in Orange County every year. State law mandates that hearing notices arrive in appellant’s homes 45 days before the hearing. In Orange County, the Clerk of the Board sends out hearing notices 60-70 days before the scheduled hearing.
Under the new process approved this week, a reply card will be added to the hearing notice, which appellants must return to confirm their attendance on the date proposed in the hearing notice.
Under the old process, 30%-40% of people requesting assessment appeals hearings did not appear. In many cases, these people had determined that their appeal was not worth pursuing after conducting research that found their tax savings would be minimal or that their property values were accurately assessed, but they did not bother to cancel their hearing. In other cases, people simply forgot that they had scheduled an assessment appeals hearing.
By adding the reply card, the newly-approved process will reduce the number of people who “no-show” at an assessment appeals hearing, which will allow taxpayers to have their appeals heard sooner. With the reply card, taxpayers who are no longer interested in appealing (either by not returning their reply cards or by replying that they are not interested in continuing their appeal) will be removed from the hearing schedule. This will allow the Clerk of the Board to schedule hearings in a more efficient manner for taxpayers who do wish to continue to pursue their assessment appeals.
For more information about the assessment appeals process, visit the Clerk of the Board’s web site here.