Everyone knows about the old saying, “There is nothing for sure in life but death and taxes”. That saying would of course include property taxes. And with most Bay Area houses taking a substantial hit in value, most of the local county property assessors have lowered the base value of property. With rare exceptions, most Bay Area homeowners don’t need to battle the taxman to get their property taxes lowered.
However, those who live in San Francisco County have a different story. According to former San Francisco County tax appeals board member Peter Fatooh (who spoke at the POA event panel last week) he explained how SF county assessor Phil Ting is not doing his job. He mentioned that the assessor has only voluntarily reduced the property tax base on about 13, 000 parcels in SF county. That number represents just a fraction of the parcels that should be reduced. Ting apparently seeks to keep more money in the City coffers rather than serve the public as he is supposed to.
According to Fatooh, the chances remain slim and none to homeowners who wish to challenge the assessor. Each county has an appeals board but the appeal system looms as a labyrinthine nightmare to the homeowner. Think going up against the IRS for an appeal on taxes. About the only way to challenge the system would be to hire someone like Fatooh who has about a 70% success rate for property tax appeals. He even works on a contingency basis so it may be worth the David versus Goliath fight with an ex-tax appeals board member as your cornerman.