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Guest editorial: Tips for paying and reducing your property tax bill

By Dan McAllister | San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector

Avoiding penalties and possibly reducing your property tax bill are two things most San Diego County taxpayers would like to hear more about! The last day to pay the second installment of the 2015-16 secured property taxes without penalty is Monday, April 11.

Normally the last day to pay the second installment is April 10, however this year as it falls on a weekend, taxpayers are provided with an additional day to pay without penalty.

In light of the growing popularity of paying tax bills online, our office has continued to improve its “mobile-friendly platform” to make it easier for taxpayers to pay online through their phone or tablet in order provide taxpayers with more streamlined payment options.

Dan McAllister

Dan McAllister

Here are our top 10 tips for paying on time to avoid any penalties, and to possibly reduce your property tax bill:

  • Pay by e-check. Consider paying by e-check on the Treasurer-Tax Collector website at sdtreastax.com. It’s secure, free, fast and easy and your payment is credited as of the date of successful submission.
  • Know the difference. Paying by e-check on the Treasurer’s website is not the same as paying through your bank’s online banking bill-pay system. Payments that are submitted through your bank’s online bill-pay system may take up to 10 business days before our office receives payment and often the envelopes are not USPS postmarked. Please confirm dates with your bank and schedule a payment well in advance of the date you would actually like our office to receive it to avoid possible penalties.
  • Sign up for free e-Notifications. Taxpayers can also sign up for free e-notification to receive a friendly email reminder when the secured taxes are due at sdtreastax.com.
  • Mark your calendar. The Tax Collector’s office sends one annual secured bill only. The first installment is due on Nov. 1 and the last day to pay on time is Dec. 10. The second installment is due on Feb. 1 and the last day to pay on time is April 10.
  • Prepare financially. There is no legal provision to defer taxes due to financial hardship. If you are unable to pay your taxes when due, a penalty will be assessed. If your taxes are still unpaid by the end of the fiscal year, your taxes will default and additional penalties will apply. At that time, you may qualify for a payment plan to pay the taxes over a five-year period.
  • Check with your mortgage company. If you have recently refinanced or purchased a property, contact your lender to determine who will be paying the tax bill. If you have an impound account, make sure your mortgage company pays the bill on time.
  • Check your travel schedule. If you plan to be out of town, make arrangements beforehand. And remember, you can always pay online! It’s secure, fast, free, and easy.
  • Don’t confuse your supplemental bill with your annual secured bill. Supplemental bills are separate from your annual secured tax bill. They are sent when there’s been a change of ownership or new construction.
  • Are you receiving a homeowner’s exemption? Property owners who occupy their homes as their principal place of residence on Jan..1, and each year thereafter, are eligible for this exemption. The homeowners’ exemption provides for a reduction of $7,000 off the assessed value of your residence. This results in an annual property tax savings of approximately $70. You can download the application from the County Assessor’s website at sdarcc.com, or request that one be mailed to you by calling their office at 619-531-5772.
  • Do you disagree with the assessed value shown on the front of your secured tax bill? You have the right to file an Assessment Appeal. For assessment appeal forms and information, visit the Clerk of the Board of Supervisor’s website at sandiegocob.com, or call their office at 619-531-5777.

Overall, our collection rates have been excellent this year, thanks to San Diego County taxpayers who are doing their part and making that possible. The total secured tax charges are expected to generate more than $5.3 billion for county operations to help our schools, our community colleges, our libraries, and so much more in our community. Please contact the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office with any questions that you may have and we would be pleased to assist you. We can be reached toll free at 877-829-4732.

—Dan McAllister is the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector. Reach him at taxman@sdcounty.gov.

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