by Joanne Faryon and Kelly Paice | inewsource
Another homeowner has been overcharged on his Mello-Roos tax bill – this time in the Poway Unified School District.
The mistake was discovered after an inewsource investigation revealed more than two dozen inconsistencies in tax bills in Del Sur, a new development in the northeastern section of San Diego.
Michael Tagulao also lives in Del Sur, but in a tax district different from the one scrutinized by inewsource. His discovery raises more questions about the integrity of the Mello-Roos tax system.
Mello-Roos is the name of a special property tax homeowners in newer developments pay to offset the cost of roads, schools, and other infrastructure. The tax can be levied if a developer and government body, such as a school district or city, forms a Community Facilities District, or CFD.
Tagulao lives in a section of Del Sur that pays extra property taxes to the Poway Unified School District. He thought he may be overpaying when he used inewsource’s interactive tax map weeks ago.
“Two of my neighbors, they live on the exact same street, closed at the exact same time as me and they’re paying $1300 less than I am,” Tagulao said.
In many cases, Mello-Roos taxes are based on the square footage of a house. Tagulao’s building permit shows his house is 2149 square feet, but Tagulao says his house is only 1778 square feet.
Earlier this week, an inewsource analysis found that in a Del Sur CFD that is collected by the city of San Diego, 28 homeowners were paying disparate amounts because the city and the county had conflicting records of the homes’ square footage. Twelve appeared to be be overcharged, 16 undercharged.
Del Sur is in Councilman Mark Kersey’s district. He’s asked for an independent audit of that special tax district.
Tagulao’s pays his Mello-Roos taxes to the Poway school district, not the city. Del Sur is in San Diego and in the Poway school district. Tagulao’s red flag means inconsistencies in square footage that largely determines Mello-Roos taxes are not contained to just one tax district.
The financial company that administers the Mello-Roos tax program on behalf of the Poway school district confirmed to Tagulao in a voice mail he was overcharged because of a mistake on his building permit.
Tagulao’s still not sure how much of a refund he’ll be getting, but he’s lived in his house for almost three years. He’s glad the mistake was discovered and his bill will be adjusted for future tax years as well. Homeowners pay Mello-Roos taxes for as long as 40 years .
Tagulao says he plans on speaking with his neighbors about whether their tax bills should also be investigated.
School district officials did not respond to requests for comment.
You can find out if you pay Mello-Roos taxes and see what your neighbor pays by searching our Mello-Roos map.