Inter-Departmental Correspondence

County Counsel



January 5, 2011


January 25, 2011







Honorable Board of Supervisors


Michael P. Murphy, County Counsel


Claim for Refund of Property Taxes on behalf of Belmont Lot LLC



Deny the claim for refund for the 2008 Supplemental and 2009 Annual Assessments for APN 045-022-250, a vacant lot in Belmont, owned by Dr. Marco Chavez, dba Belmont Lot LLC.



Assessment Appeal Board docket #2008-1457, was a property tax assessment appeal with regard to the 2008 Supplemental and 2009 land values for the vacant parcel of property identified as Assessor’s Parcel number (APN) 045-022-250. The appeal was filed by the property’s owner and taxpayer, Dr. Marco Chavez, dba Belmont Lot LLC, and was the subject of an San Mateo County Assessment Appeals Board (AAB) hearing on February 11, 2010. The AAB was asked to determine the fair market value of the property for assessment purposes (base year value) as of the date of sale, August 28, 2008. The AAB’s decision, following the hearing, was to reduce the 2008 Supplemental and 2009 Annual land values from $1,955,000 to $1,930,000. No findings were requested, so there is no transcript of the testimony and evidence presented to the AAB at hearing.


The Assessor is obligated by law to assess property at fair market value as of the sale date. Based on comparable market sales and data of “buildable” (i.e., eligible to have a building constructed on it) sites, the Assessor valued the property at $1,955,000 as its 2008 base year value. At the time of sale, the property was not listed for sale on the open market and the consideration paid for the property according to the “Buyer Final Closing Statement” was only $20,000.


The taxpayer argued to the AAB that the property was not buildable. The Assessor provided evidence that suggested that the property was a buildable lot and that the owner’s intention was to construct an improvement on it. The Assessor has indicated that the property was purchased along with a neighboring improved parcel for a total consideration of $7,500,000. The Assessor has allocated the purchase price between the two properties.



Dr. Marco Chavez, the taxpayer and property owner has filed a claim with the County, challenging the AAB’s decision regarding the value of the property. The taxpayer has not raised or offered any new substantive information or arguments in connection with the AAB hearing and decision. The current claim by the taxpayer is based on arguments that the lot was not buildable, the designated purchase price represents the fair market value on the sale date and that the comparable sales considered by the AAB did not accurately reflect the value of the subject property.


We have no reason to believe that the Assessment Appeals Board decision was not correctly decided or that any additional refund is due to the taxpayer.


Denying the tax refund claim will contribute to the Shared Vision 2025 outcome of collaborative community by supporting fiscal accountability.



No fiscal impact is anticipated, unless the claim for refund is granted.