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Assessor’s office to collect late fee for exemptions

San Benito County residents formed a long line outside the tax collector's office Monday morning,in 2012 on the last day payments were due.

When local property changes ownership from a parent to a child or grandparent to a grandchild, the new property owners can keep the old tax rate for the property rather than having it increased based on the current value of the property. But they do need to file an exemption with the San Benito County assessor’s office and those who miss the deadline will soon be charged a late filing fee.

San Benito County supervisors held a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed ordinance to charge those filing a late exemption a $175 fee. Assessor Tom Slavich explained at the meeting that when property changes hands, the new property owner receives a first notice that gives them 45 days to file the exemption. They then receive a second notice that gives them 60 days to file the exemption. The ordinance will allow the office staff members to charge the late filing fee for those who miss the second deadline.

Slavich said people come into the office, wondering why their taxes increased and it takes time for the staff to change the property’s tax rate back.

“The process is costly,” he said. “The estimated revenue will provide a cost savings of $3,000 per year.”

Supervisors asked if the fee would cover the full cost of providing services on the late filing. Slavich said it would still fall short, but $175 is the maximum amount they can legally charge.

They approved the ordinance unanimously, with no comments from the public on the item.