Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Property Tax Relief Letter is a Scam

Did you get a letter in the mail recently promising to help you file an appeal to lower your property taxes? It looks like this:

Property Tax Scam2

Get Lost Scammers!

The letter is a great big phony lying scam. Sadly, a bad economy brings scammers out of the woodwork.

It’s true that you CAN file an appeal and attempt to get your property taxes lowered. But:

1. The deadline for filing an Appeal of your tax bill for this year was April 21, 2009. Every February, the Tax Assessor’s office sends a Notice of Valuation form to every property owner in Arizona. Usually you have about 60 days to file an Appeal.

2. Your property taxes are probably already scheduled for a big drop in 2010 due to falling property values.

Google Yourself

Well, at least google your home. Check your current & proposed tax levy here. The website looks like this:

Lookup Your Tax Assessment (cick pic to embiggen; back to return)

Live at at 123 Main Street? Enter 123 in the box on the left and main in the box on the right. Easy-peasey. But don’t use street suffixes for numbered streets (3rd Street is 3, not 3-r-d-s-t-r-e-e-t). What you see next looks like this:

Tax Bill Detail (cick pic to embiggen; back to return)

Property Taxes Down, Heading South Again

That’s my property tax data, above. See the “Full Cash Value” number at the top? Next year it will be almost 38% lower than it was in 2008.

Check your own home and revel in the fax that – for once – taxes are actually going down.

In Arizona, we pay our tax bills “in arrears.” January through June taxes are due in October each year. July through December taxes are due in March of the following year.

As property values drop Valleywide, so do property tax bills. They just drop after the fact. Don’t give the folks who sent this letter a single dime. In fact, if their return envelope is postage-prepaid, send back the letter with “SCAMMERS SUCK” Sharpied on their form. That’ll fix their wagon.

Wait, did I just say “fix their wagon?”  Egads, I’m losing it.

Off to find it. Back soon.

Edited to Add - Arizona's Attorney General appeared on NPR's All Things Considered this afternoon, and announced that the AG's office has caught these inglorious basterds. The State took over the scammers' bank account and issued a refund to any poor homeowner sent them money.

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