Q: We recently received a letter asking us to mail a check for $189 to the Property Tax Review Board to appeal our property tax bill. A few days later, I saw on the news that this is some kind of scam. If it is a scam, is anybody doing anything about it? Thanks. — Jayne C., Las Vegas
A: You are apparently one of hundreds, if not thousands, of homeowners who received such a letter in the past month.
I’ve seen this letter, too. It looked fairly official, like something you might get from the county. It was labeled “2009 property tax reduction form” and it included a box touting an “estimated savings” of more than $1,200 if the homeowner signs an included form and returns it with a check for $189 by the stated due date of Sept. 11, 2009.
“At your request, the Property Tax Review Board will file an application requesting Clark County to lower your property taxes,” the letter stated, adding that, “Property Tax Review Board is not a government agency.”
This letter has prompted warnings from local authorities and the state attorney general’s office. The attorney general issued a consumer advisory on Aug. 6 that said “the savings the Property Tax Review Board promises are based on faulty data, and a Nevada property owner will probably see no savings.”
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto cautioned consumers about responding to solicitations offering guaranteed savings.
The attorney general’s office has asked me and the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors to warn our members and the public about this. We’re encouraging people to disregard this and similar solicitations. We posted a message on GLVAR’s Multiple Listing Service that all our members see when they log on. We’re also mentioning this in meetings, in articles and doing all we can.
Homeowners are facing more than their share of challenges these days. The last thing needed is misleading mailers seeking $189 to file an appeal.
You can appeal your property tax assessment at no cost by contacting the county assessor’s office.
Contrary to what this mailer suggests, county officials note that the deadline for appealing the 2009 local property tax assessment was Jan. 15, 2009. The county plans to send notices showing assessments for the coming tax year in December.
I suspect the people behind this mailer thought this would be a good time for such a scheme because many homeowners are confused about why their property taxes are going up as home values are going down.
According to the Clark County assessor’s office, this can be attributed to the statewide property tax cap passed by the Nevada Legislature in 2005. Since the tax cap was based on property values as of the 2004-2005 tax year, local property taxes have been generally going up by as much as 3 percent per year since 2005 — instead of at a higher rate had the cap not been enacted.
Michele Shafe, assistant director in the county assessor’s office, said that started to change this year when about 400,000 of roughly 730,000 Clark County property owners saw their property tax bills decrease as their property values dropped below 2004 levels.
“Over half received a lower tax bill this year over last year,” she said. “We expect that trend to continue for this upcoming tax year.”
Even if your property tax bill continued to increase, she said the property tax cap has limited increases for most homeowners to be less than 3 percent per year. Homeowners are still ahead of the game, paying lower property taxes these past five years.
For more information on this issue, visit accessclarkcounty.com/assessor or call the assessor’s office at 455-3882.
Sue Naumann is the president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate industry for nearly 30 years. GLVAR has nearly 13,500 members. To ask her a question, e-mail her at email@example.com. For more information, visit lasvegasrealtor.com.