Owners of fire-damaged properties can get tax relief

The Lilac Fire tore across more than 4,100 acres near Fallbrook and destroyed at least 65 structures.

SAN DIEGO — Owners of properties destroyed or damaged during the Lilac Fire in northern San Diego County can have the value of their land reassessed to reflect the new condition and lower property taxes, county Assessor/Recorder/Clerk Ernest Dronenburg announced Friday.

He said the reduced value will remain in effect until the property is rebuilt or repaired.

“The Assessor’s office will be proactively mailing property tax relief applications to affected property owners,” Dronenburg said.

“I would also like to strongly encourage all property owners who suffered fire damage to their property in excess of $10,000 to contact my office for the necessary claim form at 619-531-4993 or by visiting the Assessor’s website at www.sdarcc.com,” he said.

If reconstruction results in the property being similar to how it was before the fire, the base property tax assessment will not increase, according to Dronenburg.

Houses, outbuildings, manufactured homes, and commercial and industrial properties are all eligible for the tax-relief program. Damage to vehicles and contents are not eligible, since they aren’t taxable, he said.

Separately, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said residents evacuated from their homes could claim reimbursement for related costs via their homeowner or rental insurance policies — even if their residences aren’t damaged.

“It is imperative residents are aware of every resource available to them to recover from the emotional and financial burden caused by wildfires and to get their lives back on track,’ Jones said. “Insurance coverage is meant to protect consumers from the devastating financial effects of wildfires and other disasters. I encourage evacuees to contact their insurance agent or the Department of Insurance for assistance.”

He said those who were evacuated should ask about the additional living expense coverage, known as ALE, of their policies.