Below are the most frequently asked questions regarding the assessment appeals process and filing an appeal:
- What is an assessment appeal?
- Is there a charge for filing an appeal?
- I think my property value has decreased over the past year and is now lower than the assessed value shown on my Annual Notice. When should I file an appeal?
- I submitted my appeal application and fee. What happens next?
- What are the functions of the appeals board and a hearing officer?
- When is the Hearing Officer's decision not final?
- Do I need to have an agent or attorney?
- I will have a real estate appraisal firm represent me at my hearing. Do I have to provide a specific name of a person to be the authorized agent? I don't know who it will be yet, or if that person will still be there by the time my hearing is scheduled.
- Since I will have an agent representing my corporation, can my agent also sign the agent authorization section of the Application?
- I did not plan to have an agent represent me in my appeal when I filed the Application, thus I did not complete section 2, Authorization of Agent. I have now changed my mind. Should I submit a new or amended application?
- My son will be filing the Application for me. Will I need to designate him as my agent?
- Do I need to attend the hearing?
- What if I cannot attend the hearing?
- If I own a residential property, am I required to provide an Assessor’s Account Number or an Unsecure Assessment Number?
- On the application form, regarding items #4-A and #4-B, what values do I need to complete? Do I have to separate the value for each category?
- What information do I need to provide to support my opinion of value?
- At my appeal hearing, is it my responsibility to prove that the Assessor's value is not correct?
- I filed an assessment appeal and I am awaiting a hearing date. The second installment of my property taxes is coming due soon. Do I have to pay it even though I am contesting the value?
- Must I have legal representation for me at my hearing?
- What do I need to do to prepare for my hearing?
- I just filed an Assessment Appeal Application. When should I expect a hearing date?
- What would happen if I forgot all about my hearing date and did not show up as scheduled? Can I request a new date?
- If the Assessor’s office and I have agreed on an assessed value prior to my hearing date, do I need to show up for my hearing?
- After I filed an Application, I have decided not to go through with it. What should I do? Will I be charged a fee for withdrawing?
- May I file for an assessment appeal at any time?
- After I filed an Application, I discovered additional data that would support a lower value for my property than what I originally indicated on the application. Should I submit a new application?
- What are written findings of facts? Do I need them?
- I still have questions regarding assessment appeals. Where can I find more information or who can I contact?
- What if I do not see my answer here?
1. What is an assessment appeal?
An assessment appeal is the due process a taxpayer may initiate if the assessed value of his or her property cannot be agreed upon with the assessor. The Assessment Appeals Board, a quasi-judicial body consisting of impartial persons appointed by the Board of Supervisors, hears evidence from both parties before deciding upon the value of the property in question. The assessment appeal process provides for the ’equalization,’ or the fairness of a property's assessed value.
You must file an Assessment Appeal Application, form BOE-305-AH, obtained from the Assessment Appeals Board located at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 405, City Hall, in San Francisco, California, 94102. For your convenience, this form is available on our website at www.sfbos.org/aab under Forms and Documents.
After hearing all the evidence, the Assessment Appeals Board is required by law to determine the value of your property, which means that it can leave the value the same, decrease the value, or increase the value of your property. An appeals board is not bound by the value presented by you or the Assessor. The appeals board decision is final, and your only recourse would be to appeal its decision to the San Francisco Superior Court.
The appeals board will either advise you of its decision at the conclusion of the hearing, or you will be notified of its decision by mail at a later date. Depending upon the workload and complexity of your appeal, your notification may take up to several months. The decision of the appeals board is final. A challenge of the board's decision must be filed in San Francisco Superior Court within six months of the decision on your application.
2. Is there a charge for filing an appeal?
There is a processing fee of $60 for each application filed. If you pay by check or money order, please make it payable to CCSF. There will be an additional fee charged should your check be returned unpaid by the bank. Applicants filing their appeal in person can pay by cash, check or credit card. We accept Master Card, Visa and Discover; American Express is not accepted. Applicants who file their appeal online must pay by credit card.
Note: A separate application is required for each parcel and amount, for each tax year and each assessment notice being appealed. Processing fees are non-refundable, but may be waived if the applicant qualifies for a waiver of court fees and costs pursuant to California Government Code §68630.
3. I think my property value has decreased over the past year and is now lower than the assessed value shown on my Annual Notice. When should I file an appeal?
The City & County of San Francisco open filing period for a formal appeal of assessed property value is July 2nd to September 15th each year. A completed Assessment Appeal Application form, together with a non-refundable $60 administrative processing fee must be submitted or postmarked to the Assessment Appeals Board no later than September 15th of each year, in order to be accepted as timely filed. If September 15th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, applications postmarked on the next business day shall be considered timely. Please note, pursuant to California Revenue & Taxation Code, the Assessment Appeals Board has 2 years from the date an application is timely filed, to schedule, hear and render a decision.
4. I submitted my appeal application and fee. What happens next?
The appeals board staff will process your application. Provided your application is timely filed and correctly completed, you will receive an acknowledgement letter containing the file number assigned to your appeal along with a receipt number for your fee payment. The appeals board is required, by law, to provide a copy of your application and all other submitted information to the Assessor’s office. After your application has been processed, you will not hear from the appeals board again until your application is scheduled for hearing. The appeals board will send you a written notice at least 45 days in advance of the initial scheduled hearing date.
5. What are the functions of the appeals board and a hearing officer?
The primary function is to conduct impartial hearings on property assessment disputes between taxpayers and the Assessor. Based on the evidence presented at these hearings, the appeals board determines the fair market value for the disputed property.
Among other things, they can:
- Lower or raise a property's assessed value.
- Remove certain types of penalty assessments imposed by the Assessor.
- Reverse a change in ownership or new construction reassessment.
The appeals board does not have legal authority or jurisdiction to:
- Reduce an assessment because of the increase in value or taxes from prior years.
- Grant or deny exemptions.
- Reduce property taxes due to your inability to pay.
- Calculate and/or refund property taxes.
- Dictate the manner in which property tax funds are spent.
6. When is the Hearing Officer's decision not final?
If either you or the Assessor’s office do not agree with the Hearing Officer's recommended value, either party may submit, in writing within 14 calendar days of the Hearing Officer hearing, a request for your appeal to be heard by a full appeal board. A new hearing will then be scheduled before a 3-member board panel within 2 years from the date your application was timely filed.
7. Do I need to have an agent or attorney?
We cannot advise you on hiring an agent or attorney. You will have to appear at a hearing to state your case and present your evidence. All hearings are open to the public. You may attend any hearing to see what the process entails and then consider whether or not to have an agent or attorney represent you. However, if you have a legal issue or an unusual property, you may want to consult an appraiser, tax agent or attorney for guidance.
8. I will have a real estate appraisal firm represent me at my hearing. Do I have to provide a specific name of a person to be the authorized agent? I don't know who it will be yet, or if that person will still be there by the time my hearing is scheduled.
Your authorized agent may be the name of a corporation or other legal entity. There is no requirement that a specific person's name be provided. Your agent must, however, have written authorization to represent you at a hearing.
9. Since I will have an agent representing my corporation, can my agent also sign the agent authorization section of the Application?
No. The agent authorization block on the application must be signed by the applicant, or if the applicant is a legal entity, an officer or authorized employee of the legal entity may sign this section. The application would be invalid if your agent signed the authorization section.
10. I did not plan to have an agent represent me in my appeal when I filed the Application, thus I did not complete section 2, Authorization of Agent. I have now changed my mind. Should I submit a new or amended application?
No. You may submit a separate written statement designating an agent after you have filed your application. However, the information required on an agent authorization is very specific and will not be valid unless it is complete. An Agent Authorization form is available on our website at www.sfbos.org/aab under Forms and Documents.
11. My son will be filing the Application for me. Will I need to designate him as my agent?
No. Persons who are the applicant's spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, child, or co-owners may file on behalf of the applicant and are not deemed to be agents. The filer need only indicate his or her relationship with the applicant in the certification section at the end of the application and be able to provide proof of relationship if requested.
12. Do I need to attend the hearing?
Yes. The failure of you or an authorized representative attending a hearing may result in the denial of your application. The Board has the ability to reconsider the denial of you application if you show good cause for your failure to appear and file a written request for reconsideration within 30 days.
13. What if I cannot attend the hearing?
You may mail, fax or email a Postponement Request and a Waiver Agreement form to the Assessment Appeals Board. These forms are available on our website at www.sfbos.org/aab under Forms and Documents. All postponements must be submitted at least 14 days in advance of the hearing date in order for the Board to consider your request.
Please note: A wife may appear for her husband or vice versa and sons or daughters may appear for parents or vice versa.
14. If I own a residential property, am I required to provide an Assessor’s Account Number or an Unsecure Assessment Number?
Residential properties are identified by Block and Lot numbers, and typically will not have an Assessor’s Account Number or Unsecure Assessment Number. Assessor’s Account Number and Unsecure Assessment Number usually refer to businesses, commercial property, boats, etc.
15. On the application form, regarding items #4-A and #4-B, what values do I need to complete? Do I have to separate the value for each category?
You must provide the Total Value for column #4-A (Value on Roll) and a Total Value for column #4-B (Applicant's Opinion of Value). You do not have to complete a separate value for each of the individual categories in columns #4-A and #4-B.
16. What information do I need to provide to support my opinion of value?
Any information provided with the application must also be presented at the hearing in order for it to be considered evidence that the appeals board may hear. However, you can provide the Assessor’s office with information that supports your opinion of the market value for your property prior to the hearing. This may result in the Assessor’s office concurring with your evidence, and there would be no need to pursue the appeal or attend a hearing. For a residential property, the best supporting documentation is information on sales of comparable properties.
Many websites offer property sales information free of charge. Additionally, a local real estate agent or title agent can also be a valuable source of information. Sales of comparable properties may be any time prior to your valuation date, but those closest in time are the best indicators of value. However, an appeals board may not consider comparable sales that have occurred more than 90 days after the date your value was set by the Assessor’s office.
Any relevant evidence may be admitted if it is a customary method in which a property is appraised. You may use the income approach or the replacement cost approach if they are considered the most appropriate method for valuing your property.
Both the assessor's evidence and your evidence may include oral testimony by an assessor's staff member, you, your agent or attorney, or by an expert witness or other witness. Submission of a formal appraisal or any other written material (for example, a Realtor's opinion of value or an engineering study) is allowed; however, the board may require the person who prepared the report or document be present at the hearing to respond to any questions the appeal board members or Assessor’s representative may have about the information. Depositions are not admissible and will not be considered by the appeals board.
17. At my appeal hearing, is it my responsibility to prove that the Assessor's value is not correct?
You should be prepared to present evidence to prove that the value you are requesting is correct. The burden of proof lies with the assessor's office to establish that their opinion of value is correct under the following situations:
- Appeals of a single-family dwelling when it is occupied by the owner as a primary residence.
- Non-enrollment of purchase prices (provided a Change in Ownership Statement was timely filed by you).
- Requests by the assessor to enroll a higher assessed value than what is currently on the roll.
- Escape assessments, when it is not due to your failure to file a Change in Ownership Statement, a Business Property Statement, or permits for new construction.
- Penalty assessments that fall under the jurisdiction of the appeals board.
In all other situations, including the appeal of an owner's vacation or secondary home, the applicant has the burden of proving that the property has not been correctly assessed and must be the first to present evidence at the hearing.
18. I filed an assessment appeal and I am awaiting a hearing date. The second installment of my property taxes is coming due soon. Do I have to pay it even though I am contesting the value?
Yes. You are required to timely pay your property taxes despite any appeal you have pending. Failure to do so will result in financial penalties and interest charges regardless of the outcome of your appeal. Also note, the Assessment Appeals Board does not have jurisdiction over collection, payment, or refund of property taxes. If you are granted a reduction, you will receive a refund with interest.
19. Must I have legal representation for me at my hearing?
No. You may represent yourself. However, if you have someone other than yourself, spouse, children, parent, or a California-licensed attorney appear for you, you must sign a written authorization prior to the hearing permitting that person to represent you.
20. What do I need to do to prepare for my hearing?
In preparation for your hearing, you will need to collect and organize the evidence you plan to present to the hearing officer or appeals board. The evidence must support your opinion of the ’fair market value’ of the property covered by your application. You should review a copy of Publication 30, Residential Property Assessment Appeals, to get a better understanding of how to prepare for your hearing. At the hearing, you and the assessor’s representative will be given an opportunity to present factual evidence to substantiate your opinions of value. You and the assessor’s representative may question each other regarding the evidence presented.
21. I just filed an Assessment Appeal Application. When should I expect a hearing date?
The law allows up to two years for an Application to be resolved. Notice of the initial hearing date will be mailed to you at least 45 days prior to the date of your hearing. If, for whatever reason, your initial hearing date is vacated, any subsequent hearing notice may be mailed no less than 10 days prior to your next scheduled hearing date.
22. What would happen if I forgot all about my hearing date and did not show up as scheduled? Can I request a new date?
Your application will be denied for nonappearance and your appeal will be considered closed if you missed your hearing date. No further action will be taken on your appeal and a notice of denial will be mailed to you. However, you can file a written request with the appeals board for reconsideration within 30 days from the date the notification of the denial for nonappearance was mailed. Such requests are generally granted only if extraordinary circumstances caused you to miss the hearing.
23. If the Assessor’s office and I have agreed on an assessed value prior to my hearing date, do I need to show up for my hearing?
Yes, unless a stipulation agreement has been signed prior to the hearing by you or your agent, the Assessor, and the Assessor’s legal counsel agreeing to a new value for your property. The written stipulation agreement sets forth the proposed full market value and the current assessed value of the property, and contains the facts upon which the reduction in value is premised.
24. After I filed an Application, I have decided not to go through with it. What should I do? Will I be charged a fee for withdrawing?
Under most circumstances, you are permitted to withdraw your application at any time prior to the hearing. If the Assessor’s office has indicated that evidence supporting a higher value than what is currently shown on the roll will be introduced at the hearing, you may not withdraw your application. It is within the law for an appeals board to decide to continue an appeal, even though the Assessor’s office and you may have agreed to withdraw the appeal.
If you decide to withdraw your assessment appeal, you should notify the Assessment Appeals Board in writing as soon as possible so more time is not spent on your application. There is no fee for withdrawing your application.
25. May I file for an assessment appeal at any time?
No. Based on the type of appeal you are filing, applications may only be accepted during a specific time period. You should review a copy of Publication 30, Residential Property Assessment Appeals, to get a better understanding of the appeal filing periods.
- Regular Assessment / Decline in Value - The filing period for a regular assessment, or decline in value appeal (the regular value of your property enrolled by the Assessor on January 1) is from July 2nd to September 15th of each year.
- Base Year Value / Supplemental Assessment - If you are appealing the value based on a notice sent to you because your property had a change of ownership or new construction, you must file within 60 days of the Assessor’s mailing of the supplemental assessment notice. If you did not receive a notice, you must file within 60 days of the supplemental tax bill, and you will need to provide a signed perjury declaration.
- Escape Assessment – If you are appealing an escape assessment, you must file within 60 days of the escape tax bill or the postmark date of the tax bill, whichever is later.
- Calamity Reassessment Appeals: If you disagree with the value stated on a reassessment notice sent to you because your property was damaged due to a natural disaster or other calamity, you must file within six months of the mailing of the notice.
26. After I filed an Application, I discovered additional data that would support a lower value for my property than what I originally indicated on the application. Should I submit a new application?
No. You may revise the opinion of value stated on your application at any time up to or during your appeals hearing without submitting a new application. Additionally, you may present testimony and other evidence at the hearing to support a value that is different from what was stated on the application.
27. What are written findings of facts? Do I need them?
The Assessment Appeals Board’s written Findings of Fact is a legal document prepared by the Board that summarizes the grounds for appeal raised in your application, sets forth the Board’s evaluation of those issues and of the parties’ arguments, and shows the basis for the Board’s decision on your appeal. Findings of Fact also include the method or methods of valuation used by the Board in determining the full market value of the property or its components.
If an applicant or the assessor desire written Findings of Fact, the request must be made in writing and submitted to the clerk before commencement of the hearing, or requested orally on the record just prior to the commencement of the hearing.
The fee for preparing Findings of Fact is $215 per hour, with a maximum of 30 billable hours. A deposit equal to one hour must be made prior to the conclusion of the hearing. The requesting party will be billed for any additional time spent (up to 30 hours) over the initial one-hour paid deposit. Additional charges to the requesting party must be paid in full prior to transmittal of the Board’s Findings. At the end of the hearing, but before the board renders a decision, the requesting party may withdraw the request for findings and any fees paid will be refunded. At that time, the other party may orally or in writing renew the request and pay the cost of the findings preparation.
Findings of Fact are not available for cases that are heard by a Hearing Officer.
28. I still have questions regarding assessment appeals. Where can I find more information or who can I contact?
Additional information is available in the following California State Board of Equalization publications and can be accessed by the links provided below.
- For information on residential property appeals, see Publication 30, Residential Property Assessment Appeals,
- For information on laws governing the Assessment Appeals Board process, see “Equalization by County Board of Equalization”, Sections 1601 – 1645.5 of the California Revenue & Taxation Code
- For information on property tax rules governing the Assessment Appeals Board, see “Equalization – Property Tax, Subchapter 3, Local Equalization” Sections 301 – 326 of the Property Tax Rules
29. What if I do not see my answer here?
If you have questions regarding your assessed value, contact the Assessor’s office at (415) 554-5596. If you have questions regarding the appeals process, contact the Assessment Appeals Board at (415) 554-6778.