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Sonoma County property owners may get tax break for Kincade fire damage

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Property owners who sustained more than $10,000 in damage from the Kincade fire may seek relief from the next installment of Sonoma County property taxes, due Dec. 10, officials said Tuesday.

To defer that tax payment, landowners must submit a calamity reassessment application to the Sonoma County Assessor’s Office by Dec. 10 in lieu of paying the tax.

The tax must ultimately be paid, but if the reassessment determines the property’s value has been reduced the tax will be adjusted accordingly and can be paid upon completion of the reassessment, Assessor Deva Proto said.

Reassessment applications must be filed within a year of the calamity, but landowners must apply for the reassessment by the tax payment deadline in order to defer their payment, officials said in a press release.

Owners who pay the first installment in full now will get a refund if their property’s value is subsequently reduced.

“It is essential that property owners complete their calamity assessment applications in a timely manner to ensure that we can adjust property values accordingly,” Proto said in the release.

Only physical damage to structures, including homes, barns and other buildings, counts in terms of property value, Proto said. Smoke damage or damage to vehicles does not count, she said.

The Assessor’s Office mailed letters last week to the owners of 175 properties who may be eligible for the tax deferral.

The Kincade fire, which scorched about 120 square miles, destroyed 374  structures, including 174 homes, according to Cal Fire.

For more information on calamity-damaged properties and to obtain a calamity reassessment application go online to http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CRA/Assessor.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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