Santa Clara County Tax Assessor Plays Santa Claus, Delivers Property-Tax Money Owed to Residents

Santa Clara County owes some residents thousands of dollars because the government overcharged them at tax time.

For Erin Cerdan's family, Santa came through the front door Thursday morning, and happened to look a lot like Santa Clara County Tax Assessor Larry Stone.

When Cerdan opened her door, Stone was there to present her with a check for more than $27,000, money the county owes her because Cerdan, and more than 200 other county residents, were overcharged for years on their property taxes.

"It's a big blessing, a gigantic blessing," Cerdan said.

"They were overpaying property taxes," Stone said, "in some cases up to 20 years."

All in all, Santa Clara County owes those families about $3 million, because, Stone explains, they live in low-income housing, but were taxed at the regular property tax rate. Now, he says, the county is mailing out returns.

Cerdan says she's grateful for the early Christmas gift that she fought to get. First on her list? "Pay off my debts, and cut up my credit cards. All but one."

There is still the question of whether Cerdan and the other families will owe – off all things – taxes on their refunds. They've been advised to contact the IRS.

Scott Budman covers business and technology on Twitter: @scottbudman

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