By Jeff Prang, Los Angeles County Assessor
This has been a challenging fire season and it’s still not officially over, which is usually considered near the end of the year. However, since we’ve been experiencing extremely dry conditions this autumn, fire season can carry over into the first part of next year before the March rains.
In any event, several fires have erupted across our region over the last few months driven by winds of up to 80-miles-per-hour resulting in loss of property.
Monrovia has not been spared either, with the Bobcat Fire burning through more than 114,000 acres and threatening local structures as well as the Monrovia Canyon Park and the Hillside Wilderness Preserve. In fact, it’s been reported that city facilities have suffered smoke damage.
This wind-swept blaze was massive and was driven by violent, howling gusts topping out at 80-miles-per-hour. I want to applaud the valiant efforts of the first responders who are always standing ready to move toward the danger not away from it. They are our heroes and I thank all of them for their tireless efforts protecting property and life.
I am visiting with you because I want to remind property owners who have lost their property or have suffered damage of $10,000 or more that they’re eligible for tax relief. That’s right. If you are eligible, you can get property tax relief on your bill right now.
Here’s how it works: You must file the Application for Reassessment – Misfortune and Calamity claim, which is available online at assessor.lacounty.gov/disaster-relief; by phone: (213) 974-8658; by social media at @lacassessor.
The claim has to be filed with my office within 12 months of the fire, or a flood, earthquake or any other natural disaster. As mentioned, these claims are applicable for any natural disaster and obviously are appropriate for the Bobcat Fire.
You have time to file the claim, since the deadline is still a year off, but it’s important to do so as soon as possible because the tax relief can come in handy when you are planning on rebuilding or replacing.
The savings can be for a total loss of the property or a percentage of the damage as long as it’s $10,000 or more. The percentage is calculated by the appraiser using a standard formula, oftentimes in conjunction with other factors such as existing insurance.
Sometimes, the tax relief may not be a significant amount but it most assuredly helps in a time of need. And we want to help during this time of need.
Although we have helped dozens of people during this challenging time, many property owners are still not aware that this tax relief exists. It does and I encourage everyone to avail themselves of this money savings program.
As just one example, my office approved more than $3 million in tax relief for last year’s Woolsey Fire. This relief was by way of refunds and adjustments to the 2018/2019 tax bills. The Woolsey Fire had 1,328 homes and businesses affected. Of those, 797 were entirely destroyed.
We believe that every property was identified. Dozens of appraisers were at work around the clock to ensure people received the required reassessment of the property that led to the tax relief. I estimate for that fire alone my staff logged more than 2,500 hours on the job.
I wanted to share with you the M&C claims available for fire victims this month and in subsequent months, I’m going to be sharing with your several other savings programs that we offer. Those programs include the Home3owners’ Exemption, Parent-Child Transfer, and Senior Replacement to name just a few of those we offer.
Again, the M&C claim forms can be obtained online at assessor.lacounty.gov/disaster-relief or by phone at (213) 974-8658. Please avail yourself of this tax relief program.