The RPC Assessment Appeals Process
Written By Kai Acruz (Communications Manager)
The Property Tax Assessment Appeals process is a lengthy and somewhat complicated one. California’s 58 counties each have their set of local rules and procedures. Commercial property tax appeal negotiations with the assessor can be complex, time consuming and somewhat adversarial. Mistakes resulting from inexperience or incompetence can cost the taxpayer thousands of dollars and may actually result in higher property tax assessments. Let RPC partner with you on the assessment appeals process saving you time and expense.
RPC has 30+ years of experience, professional relationships with county assessors, and hundreds of successfully prosecuted assessment appeals statewide. If you are wondering how we do it, you’re in the right place. Here is what happens during the assessment appeals process from start to finish.
The first step is to qualify the property by providing our No Cost Tax Assessment Review. This happens when an inquiry from a taxpayer sends their property information to us via call, email or RPC website form, to see if there is potential for tax savings in the current tax year.
We utilize public records, taxpayer-provided property financial information, and subscribed real estate information services to understand how your current tax assessment aligns with local current market value conditions. Should the market value fall below the current assessed value, we may then recommend an assessment appeal application be filed with the corresponding county assessment appeal board.
Sometimes, our reviews result in a No-Go. After a thorough review, we may recommend an assessment appeal application not be filed for the current year. We wish to save all parties time and effort if the chances for success are low.
Once we determine that there is potential for tax savings, we send you our Agreements and our Agent’s Authorization Form. The authorization form informs the county that you authorize RPC as your Property Tax Agent and that you allow us to represent your interests in the assessment appeal process.
Once the documents have been signed and returned, we set up your case file and typically request additional property information to build our case.
We verify each county’s assessment appeal deadline to determine which properties fall into each application filing period. The filing periods for California counties begin July 2nd through either September 15th or November 30th depending on the county. Annual filing deadlines are subject to change so we verify annually to avoid lost opportunities.
Next, we process your application with the correct property information and our opinion of assessed value. We work as a team to ensure that every necessary part of the application is complete and up to date. Before each application is forwarded to the county, we make copies of the application for our records, attach the Agent’s Authorization form, and include a check for the county’s various filing fees. This is generally where we charge you a $195 research & filing fee. Once we have the application completed and reviewed we forward the application package to the corresponding counties for processing.
Once it’s off to the county, it’s time for Step Four.
From here, it’s a waiting game. Each county has their own timeline, but generally, they start assigning each application a case appeal number 1-4 months after the season closes. 3 to 9 months after the filing season closes, the county then assigns a hearing date. An appraiser from the assessors office shall be assigned to the appeal case number. We then establish contact with the assigned appraiser and begin discovery and information exchanges. RPC packages our research, evidence and backup documents and presents it to the assessor for review and comment.
Negotiations almost always come to an acceptable recommendation based on the facts before the hearing, which is then presented to the assessment appeals board for approval.
The Wait and Negotiate stage can result in a few things. The property assessed value is either reduced, or the board/we decide the appropriate market value is within 5% of the current assessed value, and we withdraw the appeal. At the end of the day, if we are not successful in reducing the assessed values, our fees are contingent on any reduction, so there is no service fee charged. Finally, we will review assessed values and market conditions for the next fiscal tax year.
Once it has been determined by the county that the current assessed roll value is less than the current permanent indexed Proposition 13 value, RPC will provide Evidence of Assessed Value Reduction for billing purposes.
This can come in the form of one or more things, such as an Appeal Board Action notice, stipulation in value agreement approved by the assessor, and/or a letter or email from the assessor’s office of changed values.
Once your service fee invoice is paid or we’ve withdrawn your appeal, it’s time for step six.
It’s time to close out your active year file. When closing you out, we do a report on everything that has happened in that subsequent year, including whether there is potential for tax savings in the next tax year. If there is no potential, you don’t have to worry–we’ll be sure to review again for the next tax period. But if there is, we’ll file for you again.
Most reductions are temporary (annual events). We wish to keep your assessed roll values as low as possible. The market changes every year as do annual tax assessments, so we file protective applications to ensure you benefit from a value equal to market value. If it didn’t work out this year, there is a chance that it will work out for future years. Note after review, if there’s little or no chance of success, we don’t proceed with the application and there is no service fee charged.
We hope this has helped you better understand the RPC team process, and we look forward to working with you.