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Reducing Property Taxes and Strategies with Bill Snyder CPA

[PODCAST] Reducing Property Taxes and Strategies with Bill Snyder CPA and Joe Cucchiara

podcast-synderTax season is coming up which means it’s time for Shannon & Snyder CPA, Bill Snyder, to rejoin Joe in the studio.  Developing strategies to reduce commercial property taxes became Bill’s specialty after the last real estate downturn and today he has come to share a few strategies that could be right for you. Specific topics include:

  • What commercial building owners may not know about property taxes
  • Companies who have benefited by working with Bill
  • Audits and consultations
  • San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo County difficulties and untapped opportunities
  • Who should be contacting Bill

Listen to the PodCast below. Enjoy.

If you own or manage commercial property and want a free property assessment to see if your property is a good candidate for a property tax reduction, schedule a free consultation here:

Why professional property tax appeal representation matters

Case Study: Property located in Alameda County, retail strip mall, with poor access and visibility.

SSCPA argued this caused vacancy and lower rents than the market, which resulted in a nice refund below.  And this is just for one year. Don’t miss out on your property tax refund!

Irvington County of Alameda Refund Check

Contact Bill Snyder CPA now for a truly no-hassle no-charge property tax evaluation at 408-241-8700. In just a few minutes we can tell if your property is a good candidate for a tax reduction.  Or feel free to schedule your consultation online here 24-7.

Related articles:
Massive property tax reduction in Alameda County

Click here to access all of our Property Appeal blog articles.

A Cautionary Case for Tax-Exempt Hospitals

A case denying a hospital a property-tax exemption is a wake-up call for not-for-profit hospitals around the country.

hospitalA recent property tax case from the Tax Court of New Jersey should serve as a warning to tax-exempt medical centers and their tax advisers throughout the country. Although this case was specific to New Jersey, similar facts and laws exist in many other jurisdictions.

The court went to great lengths to describe the ways that not-for-profit hospitals have changed over the years. When the state laws exempting not-for-profit hospitals from taxation were drafted decades ago, most not-for-profit hospitals were “charitable alms houses providing free basic medical treatment to the infirm poor” (slip op. at 3). Today, hospitals have become sophisticated medical centers, providing a variety of medical and related services.


Read the whole article at:


Can the assessor raise the assessed value when I file a property tax appeal?

We get this question a lot.

Nobody wants to get an increase in their assessed value after filing for a reduction. People want to know the risks involved in filing a property tax appeal.

Assuming you have nothing to hide, such as added square footage that was not permitted by the County Building Department, there is very little risk in filing a property tax appeal.

First of all, in California the assessor is prohibited from assessing your property above the “factored base value.” The factored base value is generally your purchase price, or value at the date of completion of construction, increased or decreased annually by inflation factors, but not more than 2% per year.


Call for a free property analysis

My advice is to always file an appeal, because it can be withdrawn, and you have no risk of an increase, and at least an opportunity for a decrease. And my experience is that property reassessed with new base year values is generally not appraised by the assessor with the same care that will occur after an appeal. In other words, further scrupulous attention results in a different value, and usually it is less. So go for it.

How attorneys and CPAs benefit from our property tax appeal services

We don’t let the IRS determine our INCOME tax.

Why let the county assessor determine our PROPERTY tax?

Businessman in front of booksFind out how much your clients can save by having a CPA that specializes in property taxes review both real and personal property tax payments.

We have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for our clients. 



The professionals that refer their clients to us say that they like having a CPA to solve their client property tax issues because we:

  • Specialize, so we a can be more efficient.
  • Charge a contingent fee, so the client only pays when we are successful.
  • Represent clients for personal property tax audits. We will handle the entire audit and typically find refunds for up to 4 years. This can be a huge opportunity.
  • Offer free reviews of existing valuations and tax payments.
  • Provide guidance with complicated property tax issues surrounding change of ownership, new construction, partial interest transfers, escape assessments, etc.
SSCPA-HomeBanner2 (2)The deadlines for appealing property tax values differ depending on the issue and county.
We know all deadlines for the entire state of California. Many counties require filing of appeals by September 15.

Accepted OfferWe are ready to take care of your clients. 

How to achieve larger refunds and save property taxes forever!

Case study – How SSCPA helps our clients achieve larger refunds and save property taxes forever after “Base Year” transfers

We just resolved a case in Santa Clara County which was a reassessment after a transfer of a 50,000 square foot office building to a family LLC that was a greater-than-50% change of ownership.

The assessor initially valued the property at the time of transfer at $10,990,000, so we filed an appeal.  Once the hearing date was determined, we were assigned a different Santa Clara County appraiser who offered a reduction to $10,400,000.  He attempted to persuade us by suggesting this was a good deal because it represented a $590,000 reduction in assessed value.

However, we still thought the value should be lower, based on market rents, capitalization rates and vacancy issues, as well as recent sales of office buildings in the area.  We presented our full workup on the value to the county appraiser at $9,500,000 and he agreed to discuss it with his supervisor.

Accepted OfferAfter discussion, the assessor agreed to stipulate to a value of $9,600,000 and we accepted.  This is a good example of what can happen if you represent yourself and do not have a clear answer or valuation to present to the assessor – instead of countering with facts surrounding the property and market, most people would be happy to have achieved the $590,000 reduction.

However, our representation resulted in a reduction of $1,390,000, an additional $800,000 reduction compared to the first offer.  This reduction is permanent under California Proposition 13, which requires that a new “base year” value is established upon transfer, and the assessed value cannot be increased in future years above an inflation factor (no more than 2% per year).   This means that the additional reduction that we achieved will save the family LLC a minimum of $9,000 per year for as long as it owns the property.  Our fee is a percentage of the savings for 2 years.  Not a bad deal.

Base year transfers occur when there is a sale, a transfer of ownership of more than 50%, or when there is new construction.  These new assessed values should always be reviewed.

Own commercial property in California?
Have a property tax appeal in progress?
Don’t settle without speaking to us first. Call us for a free property assessment today.

Property Valuation Methods: Leased fee vs. fee simple

Case Study: An investor client in Riverside County California purchased an office building anticipating the above – market rental income of the existing tenants. The purchase price reflected not only the value of the building but also the value of the lease, and the assessor put the entire amount on the property tax roll.

building1This is a good example of an opportunity to get a permanent “base year” reduction because the property was valued using a “leased fee” method, whereas assessed values are required to use fee simple valuation methods.

Issue 1: The value of the building should be based on fair market rental income at the time of purchase and not the rental income of the existing tenants.

Issue 2: In order to appeal the initial assessed value, the appeal must be filed within 60 days of the of the notice received from the assessor or property tax bill, or within three years after the amount is put on the roll.

  • If you file within the 60 day period, the reduction will be effective as of the purchase date.
  • If you file in the three years after this, the reduction is effective beginning in the year that you file your appeal.

Unfortunately, this client did not engage me until it was too late to get the permanent reduction in assessed value.

We were however able to get annual reductions under Proposition 8, which benefited my client greatly, but the permanent reduction would have meant only one appeal would have been necessary.

If you paid more than market value because of existing leases, or because you were in a hurry to replace property after a 1031 exchange, or for any other reason, please contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Bill Snyder CPA

How we help attorneys with property tax matters in California:

Shannon & Snyder CPAs are the go-to experts for property tax matters in California.

Generally, ownership changes of more than 50% cause properties to be reassessed at market value as of the date of change of ownership. This often occurs when estate planning attorneys advise their clients to transfer properties to trust or family partnerships. Likewise, property transfers after a death are subject to reassessment.

The Santa Clara County Assessor frequently values reassessments aggressively high. That’s where we come in.

We get frequent referrals from attorneys who think their clients are better served if we handle appeals of these new values because we specialize in property tax appeals and normally charge a contingent fee.

Shannon & Snyder Property Tax Experts

Partnering with Shannon & Snyder CPAs is good for your firm and great for your clients.

Attorneys have told us that it just doesn’t make sense for them to charge their hourly rates in an area that is not their specialty and may not result in the desired outcome.

Because of our experience with hundreds of appeals, we are familiar with the County appraisers, property tax transfer units and Assessment Appeals Boards.

Acting as agent for property owners, we take over the entire process and aggressively advocate for fair valuations. Your clients are in great hands with Shannon & Snyder CPAs.

If you are a practicing attorney in California, I invite you to contact me directly to see if we are a good fit to help your firm offer your clients the highest level of property tax assistance and the best results. 

Bill Snyder CPA
Shannon & Snyder CPAs



New construction in Palo Alto causes absurd assessment valuation

Most people in Santa Clara County are aware that the residential real estate market is red hot.

Last week I got three calls from new clients that built new homes in Palo Alto who received notices from the County Assessor showing enormous values for the new structures.

Sample New Constuction

Sample New Construction

For example, one property that was totally demolished and rebuilt had construction costs of $1,700,000 and the assessor valued these improvements at $3,900,000. Yikes!

I see this all the time – the homeowner became frustrated because the County appraiser would not listen to his argument that the value was far less than what the Assessor put on the tax roll. Santa Clara County allows for “informal” reviews for a certain number of days after notices are sent, but this particular County appraiser was non-responsive.

So the homeowner engaged us to file a formal appeal on his behalf. We will make an argument that suggests that the real appreciation in Palo Alto is not in the structures but in the land. And of course, the land value is protected from increase by proposition 13. Unfortunately, the formal appeals process can take 12 to 24 months, but we feel we have a very strong case, and the permanent reduction will be worth the effort.  We may save our client in excess of $10,000 per year for as long as they own the property. Unfortunately, the formal appeals process can take 12 to 24 months, but we feel we have a very strong case.

If you’d like information on appealing new construction or any other property in California please contact us.