An Assembly Bill making its way through the California Legislature seeks to add more administrative regulations to the property tax consultant industry.
Analysts say if approved, the measure will prove costly for counties, tax consultant firms, and ultimately property owners who use the services of tax agents.
AB 404 requires property tax agents to register annually and file quarterly reports with counties that regulate lobbying before the Board of Supervisors. At this time, counties with lobbyist laws that are subjected to this proposed legislation are:
The author of AB 404 argues that the measure is necessary to ensure that officials know who represents a particular taxpayer before the County Assessor and the County Assessment Appeals Board.
However, Board of Equalization Property Tax Rule 305 already provides for this disclosure. It requires the agent's authorization to represent the taxpayer be filed in writing with all appeal applications.
A Costly Proposal
The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) predicts that AB 404 will cost the County of Los Angeles $612,000 in implementation costs. Other large counties can expect similar outlays.
Also, since AB 404 requires agents to pay a fee in each major county where they are registered, the added costs could be passed on to property owners who employ them.
The Good News
There are some good points to AB 404. It outlaws political contributions to assessing officials, which all ethical tax consultant companies support. And it upholds contingency fees for property tax services, which serve as a benefit to taxpayers.
Share Your Opinion
If you would like to make your opinions known about AB 404, see the box for a list of contacts in the California Legislature.