Signatures on Assessor Forms
Why does the Assessor require a signature under penalty of perjury on many forms, including Preliminary Change of Ownership Reports when property transfers; Aircraft and Vessel Owner Reports; Business Property Statements reporting business equipment; Claims for Exclusion from Reassessment; Homeowner and Disabled Veteran Exemption Claims?
Reasons for Signatures
The primary reason for requiring a signature is that these forms are a key communication channel between the property owner and the assessor. The contents of the form can have a significant impact on the assessed value of the property whether that impact is an increase in value; the retention of a current value in lieu of reassessment or the granting of an exemption.
The second reason for requiring the property owner's or authorized agent's signature is to ensure that the person reporting the information or claiming the exclusion or exemption has knowledge of the specifics being requested on the form. It saves both the property owner and our office time and money to receive as much detailed information as possible concerning an assessment issue. It is helpful that all forms carry an accurate phone number and email address. We often make follow-up telephone calls or field visits so that we have sufficient data to make an informed and accurate judgment.
California law provides that the owner of real and / or personal property can authorize an agent to handle the filing of forms with our office and Applications for Changed Assessment with the Clerk of the Board of Equalization. Our office has an agent authorization form available for use by property owners. The owner must complete and sign the authorization form designating the agent. The designation can be for a limited purpose and specific time period, or can be general in scope and effective until revoked.
Failure to provide an authorized signature on certain forms, including Business Property Statements,can result in a penalty of 10% of the assessed value enrolled. It is important that property owners keep agent authorizations current so that if an agent leaves or is replaced, the new agent's authorization is on file.
My primary goal as County Assessor is to be fair and accurate. Within time and staffing constraints, we attempt to inform property owners if a submitted form is not correctly executed so as to avoid the imposition of a penalty. However, the primary responsibility for a correctly signed form and a current authorization rests with the property owner.