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Assessing the Assessor's Assessments

Very few people enjoy paying taxes, and MIPTC suspects Lawrence Kuperman may be close to the top of that list.  The last link will lead you to a case Mr. Kuperman filed against the San Diego County Assessor and the Assessment Appeals Board based on what he believed was an unfair property assessment. 

Back in 1996, Mr. Kuperman purchased property in Fallbrook for $185,000, even though the Assessor had valued it at $300,000 some three years earlier.  The Assessor, however, lowered the assessed value to the actual purchase price, especially since the property might have unexploded ordinance from nearby Camp Pendleton.  Apparently with the Marines, practice makes perfect, but every once in awhile a bomb ends up somewhere other than where planned. 

Next, in 2002, Mr. Kuperman discovered that San Diego Gas & Electric had an easement across his property not previously disclosed on his title insurance policy (but actually recorded back in 1972).  Things were not going especially well for Mr. Kuperman.  He believed the easement reduced the value of his land to below $40,000, and asked the Assessor to lower the assessed value.

The Assessor politely declined.  Mr. Kuperman appealed, but lost and then filed suit. 

He lost again in Court.  That's his third strike, and now he's out. 

There's something I left out before that I should probably let you in on now.  California has a four-year statute of limitations for challenging assessments.  That's why I put the dates in.  Mr. Kuperman waited six years to challenge his assessment. 

But wait, you say, Mr. Kuperman didn't know about the easement until 2002.  That may be true, but that argument won no sympathy from the Court.  The justices ruled, "Simply put, ... the language of section 51.5, subdivision (b) unambiguously provides that errors involving the assessor's exercise of judgment as to value are subject to a four-year limitations period."

Period.  So if you don't think the value of your property was assessed properly, you only have four years from the date of the assessment to challenge it. 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, March 20, 2006 at 21:06 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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