Romney Received Property Tax Relief on $12 Million Beach House
By Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times
August 5, 2012, 9:31 p.m.
Mitt and Ann Romney were easily able to afford a $12-million La Jolla home.
But that didn’t insulate them from the winds buffeting the real estate market in the months following their purchase in 2008.
After paying cash for the Mediterranean-style house with 61 feet of beach frontage, they asked San Diego County for dramatic property tax relief.
Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee for president whose wealth is estimated at $250 million, has rejected calls from Democrats and Republicans to release his income tax returns prior to 2010. But San Diego County assessor records shed light on one sliver of the couple’s personal taxes during that time: a months-long effort to reduce their annual property tax bill.
Initially, the Romneys asked that their 2009 assessment, $12.24 million, be reduced to $6.8 million, maintaining that their home had lost about 45% of its value in the first seven months they owned it.
Thirteen months later, after hiring an attorney to guide them, the Romneys filed an amended appeal, contending the home had suffered a less-dramatic fall of 27.3%, to $8.9 million.
They also filed an appeal for the 2010 tax year, claiming the house had dropped further, to $7.5 million, 38.7% less than the home’s assessed value.
As a result, the Romneys have saved about $109,000 in property taxes over four years.
They were far from alone in seeking a reduction. Since the real estate market crashed, about 250,000 San Diego County homes have been reassessed at lower values, sometimes at the owner’s request and other times at the county’s initiative.
The Romney campaign referred all questions about their La Jolla property taxes to Matthew A. Peterson, a lobbyist and attorney who helped the Romneys find the home. He has also guided them through the complex permit process for demolishing the home and rebuilding on the site.