Q: I own a home in California. Like everyone else, times are tough. I'm not looking to sell my house or anything, but I stay up on what homes are worth in my neighborhood and values have definitely taken a hit. A few weeks ago, I got my new tax bill in the mail, and it showed that the assessed value of my home, for purposes of calculating my property taxes, went up 2 percent from the assessed value last year. I guess the tax assessor doesn't read the newspaper! I have gotten a couple of letters in the mail from consultants who claim they can get my property taxes lowered, but a couple of my friends say they have done this on their own. Is it wise for me to tackle this myself? A: Don't you just love public records? I'm all for transparency in government, but if you own a home, you...
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