Property Tax

Chandler Homeowners Say ‘Hidden’ Property Tax Penalty Fees Increases House Payment

(Source: AZFamily): Gary Harperf you own property in Maricopa County, are you being overcharged for your taxes and not even know it?

Some viewers continue to tell us that the County reclassified their homes as a rental or “secondary” property, which means they pay more in taxes.

Kathryn Kerr has lived in her Chandler home for nearly 14 years.

But after making mortgage payments all this time, she and her husband got some troubling news.

Their mortgage was about to spike.

“We got a notice in the mail that our mortgage was going to be going up $150 a month because our property taxes went up,” Kerr said.

Kerr says she wanted more details on her mortgage going up and discovered some disturbing numbers that raised eyebrows.

According to County records, Kerr and her husband were hit with a double whammy by the County.

They slammed them with a mysterious $428 civil penalty, and at the same time, they lost a $428 annual state credit for their house not being designated as their primary residence.

“It was about $850 that we had to pay extra because they somehow decided to reclassify our property from primary residence to a rental,” said Kerr.

Owners of secondary homes, like rental property, pay the County more.

But remember, Kerr and her husband don’t rent out their home. They live there and own no other property. It’s not the first time taxpayers have had their homes reclassified and subjected to higher taxes.

In a recent 3 On Your Side report, Lawrence Ek says the exact same thing happened to him even though he’s lived in his home for more than 20 years.

“I can’t believe this is just an honest error. Something had to have happened,” said Ek.

So, why are some homes being reclassified as a rental?

We contacted the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office, but no one was able to talk to 3 On Your Side on camera.

However, they did give us an explanation. In Kerr’s case, the agency claimed they received some kind of address change notification from the Post Office prompting them to change her home to a rental.

But, Kerr says she has no idea what the Assessor’s Office is talking about and says if that was true all of her mail would have been forwarded, which never happened.

Kerr says the whole reclassification ordeal is suspicious and she now actually must through the appeals process to fix the mistake.

Kerr wonders how many homeowners are accidentally letting it slip by because their taxes are being automatically paid from their escrow account, and they just don’t notice the spike.

“I want other people to know that this can happen to them and you should be diligent if you receive any notices about higher taxes you should look and see exactly what it is,” said Kerr.

If you want to find out if your home is classified correctly:

1. Go the Maricopa County Assessor’s page.

2. Simply punch in your address and click on your property parcel number (APN number).

3. Scroll down and under “Description” make sure it says “PRIMARY”. If it says something else, you may be paying too much.