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Property Tax Fairness

Revamp the State’s Tax System

Progressive Open House

Send an email to Gary Ovitt: SupervisorOvitt@sbcounty.gov

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Main Office:
385 N Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92415

Chino Hills District Office:
14010 City Center Drive
Chino Hills, CA 91709

Staff Members:
Mark Kirk,
Chief of Staff

Joy Chadwick,
Deputy Chief of Staff

Brian Johsz,
District Director

Annette Taylor,
Executive Secretary

Michael Delgado,
Executive Analyst

Naseem U. Farooqi,

Burt Southard,
Media Relations

Roman Nava,
Small Business Liason

Grace Hagman,
Field Representative

Anthony Riley,
Field Representative

Jeanna Pomierski,
District Secretary
September 2009

Property Tax Fairness

Click the following link to view Supervisor Ovitt's Video:

The Board of Supervisors of each California county serve as local representatives of the California State Board of Equalization and are tasked to ensure the equitable valuation and taxation of property within their county. The assessed value of property is determined by the Assessor and forms the basis upon which property tax is calculated and collected by the Treasurer-Tax Collector.

Initially, when a property owner believes the assessed value of their property, as determined by the Assessor, is incorrect, they should contact the Assessor’s Office to discuss the matter. The Assessor can receive and provide information about the property value, explain the valuation process and/or reassess the property. If a difference of opinion of value still exists, the property owner can file an “Assessment Appeal” to dispute the value assigned by the County to real (land and structures) and/or personal (business fixtures, boats, planes, etc.) property. In general, property owners appeal in order to have their property values decreased and, during the appeal hearing, the property owner can present evidence to support the appeal.

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors appoints “Assessment Appeals Board” members and “Assessment Appeals Hearing Officers” to arbitrate disputes regarding the assessed value of property. These appointees must have experience in the fields of real estate, property appraisal, accounting, or law. After consideration of the evidence presented, the Assessment Appeals Board or Hearing Officer may determine that the property value should be decreased, increased or remain the same. If the property value is increased or decreased, the property owner will have a corresponding adjustment in taxes to be paid on the property.

The Clerk of the Board of Supervisors provides administrative support for the Assessment Appeals process and oversees the filing, review, processing and scheduling of appeals before the Assessment Appeals Boards and Hearing Officers. The Appeals Board members, hearing officers and Clerk of the Board are neutral parties that operate independently of the Assessor’s Office.

All questions regarding property valuation must be directed to the Assessor’s Office. The Clerk of the Board cannot provide any information about comparable properties or how property is assessed.

The filing of an Assessment Appeal does not relieve property owners of their tax obligations. Property owners who fail to pay property taxes will incur penalties in accordance with the guidelines established by the Treasurer-Tax Collector.

San Bernardino County residents now have several new tools at their disposal when filing appeals of property tax assessments. A revamped assessment appeals website is available at: www.sbcounty.gov/assessmentappeals. An appeal application form may be completed and submitted via this internet address. A dedicated Assessment Appeals Hot Line phone number is also available at (909) 387-4413.

Revamp the State’s Tax System

When it comes to taxes, California is in a perpetual bind. The state's tax burden is already among the 10 highest in the nation. But the revenue generated by those taxes has fallen far short of what's needed to finance the services to which residents have become accustomed.

I can remember a conversation with former legislative leader, Jim Brulte, about a dozen years ago, and he lamented to me at that time the state’s tax and revenue system was out of whack and at some point we would pay dearly for this glaring structural problem. That time is past now. Jim also went on to say that there was not the political will by the leadership in the legislature to make the tough decisions necessary to right the ship. That included providing for an adequate “rainy day” emergency fund.

The state must get its spending under control for the long term. It's neither practical nor politically possible to raise taxes every time the economy slows and deficits emerge. The state has to figure out a way to avoid or at least temper the chronic boom-bust cycles of raising revenue.

How the State generates tax revenue needs a lot of work. Most of its elements were put in place in the middle of the last century. It should be updated to reflect the modern world and our information-era economy.

A bipartisan commission on taxes, The Commission on the 21st Century Economy, appointed by the Governor, has been holding hearings, listening to research and deliberating for months. Any plan that the panel is considering, should at the very least, spark a serious debate on the future of California's tax and spending practices.

The Commission is looking at a combination of changes that would alter the mix of taxes without either raising or lowering the take, at least in the first year. The goal would be to improve conditions for economic growth and to modernize the tax system. The big focus is reducing the state’s tax volatility.

Some suggestions include lowering and flattening the tax rates on personal income, repeal the corporate income tax and reduce the sales tax. The revenue lost from those tax cuts would be replaced by higher property taxes on business, a new tax on oil drilling and the addition of a levy known as a "value added tax." The value added tax assesses businesses based on the difference in price between the materials they buy and the products they sell.

It is unknown whether these changes would achieve the commission's goal of stoking the economy, but any proposal will definitely provoke a spirited discussion that California badly needs. The key thing here is to move cautiously and understand the ramifications of any changes proposed.

This is not the right time to raise taxes, but it's the right time to ensure that the tax system is fairly administered. The discussion might also include some other ideas. One is lowering the sales tax rate while expanding the tax to cover services instead of just goods. Another is ending the tax break for sales made over the internet. Both of these current policies distort the economy and are unfair to many small businesses.

After the $10 billion temporary tax increase that the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger enacted earlier this year, Californians cannot be expected to welcome any further tax hikes. But that doesn't mean lawmakers should shy away from making necessary changes. And producing a state budget that is almost always out of whack every two months is not acceptable either.

The recent passage of the $24 billion dollar state budget in July, with its gimmicks, borrowing from local governments and other assorted sleight of hand measures is a perfect example of a flawed process that needs to end. Make the necessary changes now and do it right. And, don’t look to financially strapped local governments to share the pain that they didn’t create.

Progressive Open House

On September 17, 2009, from 5pm to 7pm, I will host an Open House at our new Chino Hills District Office. The new office is located within the Chino Hills City Hall Complex located at 14010 City Center Drive, on the first floor. Our open house will be held in conjunction with one being hosted by Assemblyman Curt Hagman. His office is located within walking distance of my office.