If you own a home in Santa Clara County that is over 50 years old then you might be able to get some property tax relief. The county tax collector offers a program in conjunction with certain cities that would allow a property owner who owns a home of historical significance to apply for a Mills Act.
If you live in the cities of Los Altos, Morgan Hill, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara or Sunnyvale then this would be something worth looking into. If your property qualifies for a Mills Act then you can expect to see a reduction of property taxes by as much as 60%.
To qualify for the Mills Act you will need to have a special report done about your property that traces the history of who lived there and what historical influence that property or that person had in your city. These historical reports average around $3,000 to $4,000 to have done but your yearly tax saving and the information that the historians gather for you will make it all worth it.
The Mills Act will go for a period of 10 years and then it can be renewed from year to year. Your commitment for getting the Mills Act is to use some of the money that you save on taxes to make improvements to the home. You are required to come up with a list of repairs or improvements that you will make over the next ten years. This is how the County and the City can justify your reduced taxes. If you ever need to sell the home then the new owner has the right to pick up the contract where you left off. This is a great selling point.
The best time to apply for a Mills Act is at the beginning of the year. Cities only issue so many Mills Acts per year and they go fast. Call your city to find out if there is an application fee and if they show your address as being on a historical list or potentially having historical influence. This is a great deal so jump on it!