Siskiyou County Assessor Mike Mallory is warning property owners to be wary of solicitations from a Los Angeles-based company offering to file property assessment reduction forms for a hefty fee of $180 or more.
Mallory wants to make sure property owners know that his office provides this service free of charge.
Companies going by the name of Property Tax Reassessment or Property Tax Adjustment Services have gradually been working their way into the north state, the assessor stated in a press release, and he is concerned that Siskiyou County may be next on their list.
Humboldt County taxpayers were hit with the solicitations back in February, and property owners to the south in Shasta and Tehama counties started receiving notices on April 20.
The mailers are deceptive in that they resemble official government notifications, including parcel number, situs address, etc., Mallory stated. In small print the companies note that they are  private businesses offering a service, and not governmental agencies. But everything else about the notice gives the impression that it is an official document, including a late fee of $30 or more if not paid by a given date.
The mailings even contain a green return envelope similar to those used by many tax collectors. These companies and several others are the subject of investigation in a number of the larger California counties.
“It is disturbing that these solicitations mislead the taxpayer into mixing up tax years,” the release stated. “The mailer states that the firm will represent the taxpayer in an assessment appeal when, in fact, the last date to appeal valuations for the 2008-09 Tax Year was Dec. 1, 2008. Assessments for 2009-10 have not yet been made, so they won't know the actual assessed values until after the Tax Roll becomes public in July 2009.”
Property owners who feel their assessed value needs to be reviewed can contact the Assessor's Office. Mallory's office reduced many values in the Lake Shastina Subdivision last year, and he is planning to review an additional 4,500 transfers that occurred from 2005 through 2007 for possible reduction for the upcoming 2009-10 Tax Year.
Taxpayers can visit the Siskiyou County Assessor's Office in the Courthouse at 311 Fourth Street, Room 108, Yreka,  or call 530-842-8036.