Santa Cruz County Government
Proposition 8 Reductions

"These Assessments Are Too High"

This information, produced by the Santa Cruz County Assessor explains how to get a temporary reduction on property assessments that are above current market value.


What is Proposition 8?

Prop 8 was one of the early amendments to Prop 13. Prop 13, as you may know, changed California's method of property taxation from a “market appraisal system” to an “event driven system”. Due to the pressures of ever increasing property values the taxpayers revolted. They amended the constitution to state that instead of constantly raising our assessments every 3 or 4 years, only reassessments at market value can occur when there is a change of ownership or new construction. Until one of these events occurs assessments may only increase by the consumer price index and this can be no more than 2%. As you can see, the impetus and the context of Prop 13 was a rising real estate market. It didn't take long for the question to arise: ‘If my values are "frozen", what happens when the market goes down? I'll be paying taxes on an assessment that is above the market....!' And so.......Prop 8 was born.

What does Prop 8 say?

Very simply, it added a few words to the California Revenue and Taxation Code which make reference to adjusting base year values to take "into account reductions in value due to damage, destruction, depreciation, obsolescence, removal of property, or other factors causing a decline in value". R & T Code Section 51(b)

Does the Assessor automatically lower values when they're above market?

The Assessor initiated reductions in 2008. At that time it was clear that the real estate market was experiencing more than a temporary slump. Currently (2011) there are more than 21,000 properties that have been reduced. These reductions are based upon a detailed analysis of thousands of sales from 1999 to the current year.

Why wasn't my property reduced?

Santa Cruz County has a very complex and varied real estate market. From the mountains to the sea, there are few vast tracts of identical homes. This makes global reductions quite difficult.

What can I do if I think my assessment is too high?

The Assessor has a one page form which may be submitted as a "Request For Decline In Value Review". Any supporting data (appraisals, comparables, multiple listings, etc.) will be helpful in expediting your reduction if it is warranted.

I don't know anything about the market value of my property. Do I have to hire an appraiser or a real estate agent in order to pursue this reduction?

No. We have a very knowledgeable and experienced staff. Our appraisers are professionals who will be more than willing to discuss your assessment with you.

When must I file this request?

The state legislature has recently responded to a statewide decline in the real estate market. In the past there were strict time limits on when to file for a reduction, this often resulted in several months delay in the Assessor's ability to respond to the request. Now a request can be submitted at any time and the Assessor has the authority to reduce the current year's assessment.

What happens when the market begins to recover?

A reduction to the base year value under the auspices of Prop 8 is not permanent. The Assessor is required to track every reduction until the base year value is restored. The consumer price index continues to compound each year, so this tracking presents a formidable challenge to appraisal staff.

Where can I pick up a "Request For Decline In Value Review" form?

Forms are available at the County Assessor's Office, 701 Ocean St Room 130. You may also call us at 454-2002 to request a form and it will be mailed to you.

Must I apply for this reduction every year?

No. The Assessor will review your assessment every year until the value is restored to its appropriate base year level. If you believe the value has declined again then you may submit another "Request For Decline In Value Review" to get further relief.

Should you have any further questions please contact the County Assessor at 454-2002.


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