(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 a homeowners’ exemption 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) A fee is required in order to receive the homeowners’ exemption.
(2) The offeror of the homeowners’ exemption filing service has a file or record covering a person to whom a solicitation is made.
(3) The offeror of the homeowners’ exemption 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 “homeowners’ exemption” or “exemption” and the word “assessor,” “auditor,” “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.”
(b) (1) It is unlawful to offer to perform a homeowners’ exemption filing service without making the following disclosure:
“THIS HOMEOWNERS’ EXEMPTION FILING SERVICE IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY. YOU CAN OBTAIN AND FILE A HOMEOWNERS’ EXEMPTION CLAIM FORM, AT NO COST, WITH THE COUNTY ASSESSOR’S OFFICE.”
(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 a homeowners’ exemption 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) No offeror of a homeowners’ exemption filing service shall charge, demand, or collect any money until after the homeowners’ exemption is filed with the county assessor. The total amount charged, demanded, or collected by an offeror of a homeowners’ exemption filing service shall not exceed twenty-five dollars ($25).
(d) For the purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Homeowners’ exemption filing service” means any service performed or offered to be performed for compensation in connection with the preparation or completion of a homeowners’ exemption claim or in connection with the assistance in any manner of another person to prepare or complete a homeowners’ exemption claim.
(2) “Homeowners’ exemption” has the meaning described in Section 218 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
(Added by Stats. 1997, Ch. 249, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1998.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018