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Thousands of San Diegans Are Overpaying Their Property Taxes

Around 150,000 homeowners aren’t getting all of the exemptions they deserve and are actually overpaying their property taxes.

Photo by Sam Hodgson

I want to give 150,000 more homeowners in San Diego County a property tax break.

That’s one reason why I’m running for San Diego County assessor-recorder-clerk. Though county assessor may not be a position you’ve thought about much, the person in that role has a big impact on your bottom line — specifically, by deciding how much property tax you pay. The county assessor is also responsible for granting you certain exemptions that can save you money on your tax bill.

Voice of San Diego CommentaryRight now, around 150,000 homeowners aren’t getting all of the exemptions they deserve and are actually overpaying their property taxes. These folks are missing out on the Homeowner’s Exemption, which provides a $7,000 reduction on the taxable value of your home simply by filling out a one-page form and sending it to the county assessor. Any homeowner who lives in their home — meaning any owner-occupied home — is eligible for this exemption.

How do we know that nearly 150,000 people are missing out on this tax break? The most recent Census estimates from 2016 tell us that there are about 634,000 owner-occupied homes in San Diego County. And statistics from the state Board of Equalization show that of those 634,000 homes, only 487,000 homeowner’s exemptions were granted, meaning there are about 147,000 instances in which a homeowner in San Diego County did not receive the homeowner’s exemption in 2016. That’s far too many.

Why are so many homeowners missing out on this seemingly simple tax savings? Well, because nobody’s told them about it, and with just a little bit of hard work on the county assessor’s part, we can do a lot better.

I’m going to fix this problem through better outreach. One thing I’ll do is hold public workshops in every community across the county once I’m elected to make sure that you get this exemption and any other tax breaks you deserve. These workshops will be open to everyone, and we’ll engage with community partners to help get the word out and ensure that no one is missed. Eligible homeowners will also be able to sign up to receive the homeowner’s exemption form via email if that’s easiest for them, and if they want the form mailed to them, we can do that too. This outreach effort will be a great opportunity to serve the people of this county and make their lives a little bit better.

We deserve a government that works for us, that’s transparent and accountable, that provides excellent service and that saves San Diegans money.

Matt Strabone is an ethics attorney and a candidate for San Diego County assessor-recorder-clerk.

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