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A Guide to Filing Your Assessment Appeal

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Introduction
Step 1: Pay your property taxes
Step 2: Contact the County Assessor
Step 3: Complete an Application for Changed Assessment
Step 4: File your Application with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors
Step 5: Exchange of information
Step 6: Withdrawals/Stipulations
Step 7: Hearing notification
Step 8: At the hearing
Step 9: Further appeal rights

Introduction

Your property taxes are based on the value of your property as determined by the County Assessor. If you feel that the assessed value of your property exceeds the market value of your property, you have the right to appeal the assessment.  These step-by-step instructions have been developed to guide you through that process. Click on each of the steps to obtain more detail.

Step 1: Pay your property taxes

Initiating an appeal does not release you from your responsibility to pay your taxes. If you are entitled to a return of your paid taxes when your appeal is resolved, the Auditor will automatically process a refund.

Step 2: Contact the County Assessor

Representatives of the County Assessor's Office can explain the basis for your assessment and will review any information you may have relating to the value of your property. If the Assessor's Office discovers an error, you may not need to file an appeal. The San Diego County Assessor's Office can be reached at (858) 505-6262.

Step 3: Complete an Application for Changed Assessment

If you and the County Assessor cannot reach an agreement, you can appeal your property tax assessment to an Assessment Appeals Board. The first step in the process is to fill out an Application for Changed Assessment.  Applications and instructions are available on the Assessment Appeals Information page or can be obtained in person at the Clerk of the Board's office at 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 402, San Diego, CA 92101-2471. Certain filing time frames must be met.  For more information, call (619) 531-5777.

Step 4: File your Application with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors

Applications may be filed in person at 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 402, San Diego, CA 92101-2471 or by mail.  Please refer to the complete instructions prior to filing your application to ensure all appropriate information is included and avoid delays.  Within two weeks you will receive a post card from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors confirming the receipt of your application.

Step 5: Exchange of information

Regardless of the assessed value of your property, you may request an "exchange of information" at any time, more than 30 days prior to your hearing.  The Assessor may also request an exchange of information.  In an exchange of information, both you and the Assessor trade the information that will be presented at the hearing.

Step 6: Withdrawals/Stipulations

In most cases, you are permitted to withdraw your application at any time prior to the hearing. If you and the Assessor reach an agreement regarding the value of your property prior to the hearing, that written agreement, or "stipulation," will be submitted by the Assessor's Office to the Assessment Appeals Board.

Step 7: Hearing notification

Property Tax appeals must be decided within two years of the date that you file your application. You will be notified of your hearing date at least 45 days in advance of your hearing.  Hearings are open to the public.  Should you wish to attend a hearing prior to your hearing date, click here for a current hearing schedule.  Should you wish to reschedule your hearing, contact the Clerk of the Board at (619) 531-5777 for a continuance.

Step 8: At the hearing

The following is a summary from the California State Board of Equalization, Publication 30, "Residential Property Assessment Appeals": After receiving your properly completed application, the Clerk of the Board will schedule a hearing.  You or your agent will be notified of your hearing date at least 45 days in advance.  The appeals board is expected to hear and decide all appeals within two years of the filing of an application.  If more than two years pass before your appeal is heard and decided, your opinion of value may temporarily become the taxable value of your property by default (until the appeals board hears and decides your appeal).  There are several exceptions to this general rule. Contact the Clerk of the Board at (619) 531-5777 for more information.

The purpose of the hearing is to resolve the dispute between you and the Assessor.  You will be expected to present appropriate and meaningful evidence to support your position.  An example of evidence is the comparative sales of other properties that are similar to yours.  The failure of you (or your agent, should you be represented by an agent) to appear at the hearing may result in the denial of your application.  Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, an appeals board can increase as well as decrease an assessment.

Appeals hearings are not as formal as a court of law.  You are not required to have an attorney or an agent represent you.  However, you, as the applicant, must personally attend the hearing or be represented by someone thoroughly familiar with the facts of your appeal.  If a representative attends on your behalf, you may be required to provide written authorization prior to the hearing.  Your attorney is not required to have written authorization.  A wife may appear for her husband, or vice versa, and sons or daughters may appear for parents, or vice versa.  Failure of you or your agent to appear may result in the denial of your application.  An appeals board has the ability to reconsider the denial of your application if you show good cause for your failure to appear, and file a written request for reconsideration by a board-established deadline.

The appeals board will base its decision on the evidence presented by you and the assessor at the hearing.  The board will evaluate the suitability of any approach to value and the data you and the assessor used to reach your conclusions.  The board may announce its decision at your hearing, or take the matter under submission for a decision later; the board may deliberate in private. If a decision is not announced at your hearing, the Clerk of the Board will mail a written decision to you or your agent.

For more information about what to expect at the hearing, please view the State Board of Equalization's Information booklet.

Step 9: Further appeal rights

A decision by the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board is final - that is, an appeals board may not rehear or reconsider any application.  However, you may file an action in Superior Court.