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Property tax group sues to reduce Tahoe assessments

Jack Carrerow

INCLINE VILLAGE – A property tax protest group is seeking help from the 6,700 homeowners in Incline Village and Crystal Bay in its fight over property taxes.

The Village League to Save Incline Assets recently filed suit against local and state tax agencies, citing unfair and illegal methods used in figuring the taxable value of property in the area after average assessments rose this year by 30 percent.

“We have prepared and will be sending out letters to all the single-family homeowners in the area in an effort to get the taxpayers to file appeals with the county assessor,” said group spokesman Ted Harris. “We want to mount a challenge to his arbitrary and capricious methods of valuing our property,”

According to Harris, this is the second such letter sent to the property owners.

“Last December, we sent out a similar letter, and as a result, several people were able to have their taxes reduced.”

Harris believes this current action, along with the suit filed two weeks ago, will keep pressure on the assessor’s office.

“We need to keep the pressure on by continuing to protest last year’s taxes and by filing appeals of this year’s taxable values,” said Harris, citing that last year, there were 123 property appeals, while this year, they are hoping for 2,000.

“Because there were only 123 appeals out of a possible 6,700 last year, the district attorney accused us of ‘sitting on our rights,'” Harris said. “The fact that we received our notices in late December and had only until January to file for an appeal had a lot to do with it. We were lucky to get that many.”

Harris stated in the letter that the 2004/2005 assessments are due soon, and while they expect little or no increase, “The assessments will still include the huge increase from last year’s bill.”

Harris cautions that people might think that if the bill reflects little or no increase over last year’s assessment, that there is no basis for an appeal.

“This is wrong,” he said. “Anyone who files an appeal this year should do so on the same basis as last year, namely, the charge that the assessor is using methods that are not supported by statute or regulation.”

The methods are illegal, according to Harris, and people should be appealing on that basis. “As far as the assessor is concerned, if he made a mistake, it’s the taxpayer’s obligation to point it out. He (the assessor) is not responsible.”