BILL NUMBER: AB 992	CHAPTERED
	BILL TEXT

	CHAPTER  496
	FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE  OCTOBER 11, 2009
	APPROVED BY GOVERNOR  OCTOBER 11, 2009
	PASSED THE SENATE  AUGUST 27, 2009
	PASSED THE ASSEMBLY  AUGUST 31, 2009
	AMENDED IN SENATE  JUNE 30, 2009
	AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY  APRIL 21, 2009

INTRODUCED BY   Assembly Member Lieu

                        FEBRUARY 27, 2009

   An act to amend Section 17537.9 of the Business and Professions
Code, relating to unfair business practices.


	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   AB 992, Lieu. Advertising: residential property taxes: assessment
appeal application filing services.
   Existing law provides that certain advertising related practices
are unlawful and makes a violation of those provisions a crime.
Existing law makes it unlawful for a person to make any untrue or
misleading statements in any manner in connection with the offering
or performance of an assessment appeal application filing service,
which is defined as any service performed or offered to be performed
for compensation in connection with an application for reduction in
assessment of residential property, as specified. Existing law
exempts from the definition of an assessment appeal application
filing service any service performed by a person who actively
advocates, in person or by written and oral communications, on behalf
of the person to whom a solicitation is made before the assessment
appeals board or the assessor's office.
   This bill would recast these provisions to instead make them
applicable to an assessment reduction filing service, which would be
defined as any service performed or offered to be performed for
compensation in connection with an application or request of any kind
of reduction in assessment of residential property, as specified, or
to provide comparable sales information in connection with such an
application or request. The bill would delete the exemption in the
definition of an assessment appeal application filing service and
thereby include in the definition of an assessment reduction filing
service those services performed by a person who actively advocates,
in person or by written and oral communications, on behalf of the
person to whom a solicitation is made before the assessment appeals
board or the assessor's office. The bill would prohibit an assessment
reduction filing service from charging, demanding, or collecting
money in connection with a request for review, or in connection with
an assessment appeal application, until after the request is filed
with the assessor or until after the assessment appeal is filed with
the clerk of the assessment appeals board, as specified. The bill
would make it unlawful for an offeror of an assessment reduction
filing service to file a request or application of any kind for
reduction in assessment without first obtaining a written
authorization from the property owner and would impose other
requirements with respect to that written authorization. Because a
violation of these provisions would be a crime, and because this bill
would expand the scope of services subject to the provisions
regulating assessment appeal application filing services, a violation
of which is a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local
program.
   The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local
agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
reimbursement.
   This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this
act for a specified reason.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  Section 17537.9 of the Business and Professions Code is
amended to read:
   17537.9.  (a) It is unlawful for any person to make any untrue or
misleading statements in any manner in connection with the offering
or performance of an assessment reduction filing service. For the
purpose of this section, an "untrue or misleading statement"
includes, but is not limited to, any representation that any of the
following is true:
   (1) The preparation of a request for review or an assessment
appeal application will result in a guaranteed reduction of property
taxes.
   (2) A fee is required in order for the county to process a
reduction of a property's value where the county has no applicable
fee.
   (3) The offeror of the assessment reduction filing service will be
physically present to represent the person to whom a solicitation is
made before county assessor staff, an assessment appeals board,
county board of equalization, or an assessment hearing officer,
unless the fee includes this service.
   (4) The offeror of the assessment reduction filing service will
prepare or complete informal assessor review data or prepare or
complete the application in full, with the exception of the property
owner's signature, on behalf of the person to whom a solicitation is
made, unless the fee includes this service.
   (5) The offeror of the assessment reduction filing service has a
file or record covering a person to whom a solicitation is made.
   (6) The offeror of the assessment reduction filing service is, or
is affiliated with, any governmental entity. A violation of this
paragraph includes, but is not limited to, the following:
   (A) The misleading use of any governmental seal, emblem, or other
similar symbol.
   (B) The use of a business name including the word "appeal" or "tax"
and the word "assessor," "agency," "bureau," "department,"
"division," "federal," "state," "county," "city," or "municipal," or
the name of any city, county, city and county, or any governmental
entity.
   (C) The use of an envelope that simulates an envelope containing a
government check, tax bill, or government notice or an envelope that
otherwise has the capacity to be confused with, or mistaken for, an
envelope sent by a governmental entity.
   (D) The use of an envelope or outside cover or wrapper in which a
solicitation is mailed that does not bear on its face in capital
letters and in conspicuous and legible type the following notice:
"THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT."
   (7) A late fee is required if the person to whom the solicitation
is sent fails to respond to the offeror of the assessment reduction
filing service by a date stated in the solicitation.
   (b) (1) It is unlawful to offer to perform an assessment reduction
filing service without making the following disclosure:

"THIS ASSESSMENT REDUCTION FILING SERVICE IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ANY
GOVERNMENT AGENCY. IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THE ASSESSED VALUE OF YOUR
PROPERTY, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN INFORMAL ASSESSMENT REVIEW, AT NO
COST, BY CONTACTING THE ASSESSOR'S OFFICE DIRECTLY. IF YOU AND THE
ASSESSOR CANNOT AGREE TO THE VALUE OF THE PROPERTY OR IF YOU DO NOT
WISH TO CONTACT THE ASSESSOR YOU CAN OBTAIN AND FILE AN APPLICATION
FOR CHANGED ASSESSMENT WITH THE COUNTY BOARD OF EQUALIZATION OR
ASSESSMENT APPEALS BOARD ON YOUR OWN BEHALF. AN APPEALS BOARD HAS THE
AUTHORITY TO RAISE PROPERTY VALUES (BUT IN NO CASE HIGHER THAN THE
PROPOSITION 13 PROTECTED VALUE) AS WELL AS TO LOWER PROPERTY VALUES."

   (2) The disclosures specified in paragraph (1) shall be placed at
the top of each page of every advertisement or promotional material
disseminated by an offeror of an assessment reduction filing service
and shall be printed in 12-point boldface type enclosed in a box
formed by a heavy line.
   (3) The disclosure specified in paragraph (1) shall be recited at
the beginning of every oral solicitation and every broadcast
advertisement and shall be delivered in printed form as prescribed by
paragraph (2) before the time each person who responds to the oral
solicitation or broadcast advertisement is obligated to pay for the
service.
   (c) (1) No offeror of an assessment reduction filing service shall
charge, demand, or collect any money in connection with a request
for review until after the request is filed with the assessor.
   (2) No offeror of an assessment reduction filing service shall
charge, demand, or collect any money in connection with an assessment
appeal application until after the application is filed with the
clerk of the assessment appeals board.
   (d) For the purposes of this section, the following definitions
apply:
   (1) "Assessment reduction filing service" means any service
performed or offered to be performed for compensation in connection
with the preparation or completion of an application or request of
any kind for reduction in assessment of residential property or in
connection with the assistance in any manner of another person to
either (A) prepare or complete an application or request of any kind
for reduction in assessment of residential property or (B) provide
comparable sales information in connection with an application or
request for reduction in assessment of residential property.
   (2) "Assessment appeal application" has the meaning described in
Section 1603 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
   (e) (1) It is unlawful for an offeror of an assessment reduction
filing service to file a request or application of any kind for
reduction in assessment without first obtaining a written
authorization from the property owner.
   (2) A true and correct copy of the written authorization shall be
submitted with any request or application for reduction in
assessment. The offeror shall maintain the original written
authorization for a period of three years and shall make it available
for inspection and copying within 24 hours of a request without a
warrant to law enforcement, the Attorney General, district attorney,
or city attorney.
  SEC. 2.  No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the
Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the
meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
Constitution.