County taxman offers tips, quips at La Jolla Town Council meeting

San Diego County Treasurer/Tax Collector Dan McAllister. PAT SHERMAN
San Diego County Treasurer/Tax Collector Dan McAllister. PAT SHERMAN
photo
San Diego County Treasurer/Tax Collector Dan McAllister. PAT SHERMAN

By Pat Sherman

San Diego County Treasurer/Tax Collector Dan McAllister was more than an hour late to his scheduled presentation during the Aug. 9 meeting of the La Jolla Town Council (due to an apparent misunderstanding with his scheduler, prompting a joke about people, in turn, paying their property taxes late). But that didn’t stop the La Jolla resident from jumping right in with pithy one-liners and a wealth of property tax information for those in attendance.

“I was born across the street at the old Scripps (hospital),” said McAllister, half-brother of legendary music producer,

Kim Fowley.

“I go to church across the street at La Jolla Presbyterian. This is my home, and it’s embarrassing when friends introduce me as ‘the late Dan McAllister.’ ”

McAllister acknowledged that he is not always the most popular person in town.

“That’s why I sit in the back in church over here, so I can slink down and not be recognized for what I do during the week,” he said, noting that his office sent 978,000 tax bills to property owners in San Diego County last September, a number that is down due to condominium projects downtown being converted to apartment rentals in the down economy.

However, McAllister said the real estate market is showing signs of recovery, particularly in areas like Coronado, La Jolla and Solana Beach, the latter of which had the highest increase in property values last year. “Things may stay on the market a little longer, but they’re still selling,” he said. “Countywide there are a third of the number of listings on the books than there were a year ago at this time. The supply is dwindling; the demand is still high — and therefore it is driving costs and prices up again.

“Certainly, the tax collector is happy when people sell for more than less.”

McAllister said that four years ago 226,000 people applied for an appeal of their property tax assessments, of which tax officials granted 216,000.

“With 21 percent of our tax base getting a discount, it meant a decrease of $50 million less the first year, and $48 million less the second year,” he said.

Questioned about the reassessment of Mitt Romney’s beachfront La Jolla home, which the

Los Angles Times

reported had saved the presidential candidate $111,000 in taxes, McAllister said the savings was actually much lower.

“I read (the story) three or four times to see what I was missing ... but the body of the story suggests that he really saved about $20,000 or $25,000 in taxes, and he did what everybody else has a legal right to do. Everybody, twice a year, has a legal right to appeal their assessed valuations.”

The next deadline to appeal property tax assessments is Nov. 30. Applications can be filled out on the assessor’s website at

arcc.co.san-diego.ca.us

McAllister suggested that before applying for a reassessment, taxpayers get comparables from a “sympathetic real estate agent” and consult

zillow.com

“If you purchased property in the last five to six years there’s a good chance you’ll be entitled to a (tax) reduction,” he said.

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