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County expands property tax cuts

Bills will be lower for 128,000 homeowners, the assessor says.

May 28, 2008|Garrett Therolf | Times Staff Writer

The number of homeowners in Los Angeles County who will receive a lower property tax bill grew to 128,000 this week because of the deteriorating real estate market.

Los Angeles County has been at the forefront of the reassessment process this year, and large numbers of homeowners in neighboring counties are expected to receive reduced assessments before property tax bills are mailed in October.

"The goal is to get this done quickly and fairly," Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach said.

Those receiving a reduced assessment in Los Angeles County will receive a written notice before June 30. On average, their tax bills will be $750 lower than last year.

The reduced assessments were the result of an automatic review of 318,000 Los Angeles County homes that were purchased between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2007, at the peak of the most recent housing boom.

Owners are allowed a reduction in property tax assessment only if their property's estimated value on Jan. 1, 2008, declined below what is known as "Proposition 13 limits." Those limits are determined by the assessed value at the time of purchase plus up to 2% each year after that, if home values increase.

Any homeowner who purchased property outside the automatic review period and wishes to request a reduced assessment can find a request form at assessor.lacounty.gov, or by calling (888) 807-2111.

If that process does not bring a satisfactory result, an appeal can be filed beginning July 2 with the Assessment Appeals Board.

Auerbach, whose office does not oversee the appeals process, said he hoped county supervisors would be able to prevent the volume of appeals that clogged the system during the housing slump of the mid-1990s.

During that crisis, the number of people in Los Angeles County appealing assessments jumped from about 10,000 to 110,000, and the hearing process took up to two years.

Already, the current backlog has grown to one year for these time-intensive appeals to be heard.

"They will try to resolve this as soon as possible," Auerbach said.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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