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Frequently Asked Questions

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Aircraft

How does the Assessor Department locate airplanes and other aircraft?
The Assessor Department receives airplane ownership information from the State Board of Equalization, the Federal Aviation Administration, and receives reports from airport operators. We also make periodic reviews of all airports in the county.
If my airplane is for sale and is consigned to a broker, will it be assessed for property taxes?
Yes. Only airplanes owned and held in inventory for sale by a licensed dealer are exempt from property taxes.
When and where are aircraft assessed for property taxes?
State law requires that aircraft be assessed on January 1 of every year, at the site where they are regularly or routinely located. Aircraft regularly located in given County are assessed here, regardless of where they are registered.
Will I be assessed even if my aircraft is out of the county on January 1?
Temporarily removing an aircraft from the county on January 1 will not exempt it from property taxes, if it is regularly or routinely located in the county.
Will I still be taxed if my aircraft was sold before January 1?
No, the new owner will be responsible for paying the taxes. However, you may receive a Notice of Pending Assessment if we do not receive the necessary information from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you receive a notice, you should return the notice and provide with the new owner's name and address, date of sale, and "tail” (the "N") number.
Are aircraft held for rent eligible for the inventory exemption?
Aircraft are eligible for the inventory exemption if they are not out on rent on January 1.

Assessor Parcel Maps

What is an Assessor Parcel Map?
Assessor parcel maps reflect the legal boundaries and dimensions of each parcel, and serve as the basis for land value assessments. The Assessor Department establishes and maintains maps for assessment purposes that delineate every parcel of land in the County.

Boats & Personal Watercraft

How does the Assessor Department locate boats and other watercraft?
The Assessor Department receives boat registration and documentation information from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. Coast Guard, and marinas operating within the county. We also perform annual on-site inspections of all marinas and moorings in the county.
If my boat is for sale and is consigned to a broker, will it be assessed for property taxes?
Yes. Only boats owned and held in inventory for sale by a licensed dealer are exempt from property taxes.
When and where are boats assessed for property taxes?
State law requires that boats be assessed on January 1 of every year, at the site where they are regularly or routinely located. Boats regularly located in a county are assessed there, regardless of where they are registered.
Are taxes prorated between the buyer and seller when a boat is sold?
No. Any arrangement regarding property tax liability must be worked out by the buyer and seller.
Will I be assessed even if my boat is out of the county on January 1?
Temporarily removing a boat from the county on January 1 will not exempt it from property taxes, if it is regularly or routinely located in the county.
Will I still be taxed if my boat was sold before January 1?
No, the new owner will be responsible for paying the taxes. However, you may receive a Notice of Pending Assessment if we do not receive the necessary information from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you receive a notice, you should return the notice and provide the new owner's name and address, date of sale, and CF or documentation number.
I own two boats. Why did I receive one Vessel Property Statement for one and one Notice of Pending Assessment?
The value of the vessel will determine which form will be mailed to the owner. Generally, only boats valued over $100,000 receive a Vessel Property Statement.
Are boats held for rent eligible for the inventory exemption?
Boats are eligible for the inventory exemption if they are not out on rent on January 1.

Business Personal Property

Why did I receive a business property statement (571-L)?
Our records indicate that you were doing business at this location on January 1. (Revenue & Taxation Code, Section 441)
Who must file a 571-L?
All individual and/or business entities must file. e-Filing allows businesses to file electronically to fulfill this legal obligation. (R&T Code 441).
Do I have to file this return?
Yes. Failure to complete and file this form (571-L) will result in the Assessor estimating the value of your business property and adding a 10% penalty to the assessment. (R&T Code Section 441, 463 & 501). See e-File.
Can I amend a filing after it is mailed?
Yes. There is a four (4) year statute of limitations, within which you can file an amended return subject to audit. Be sure to contact the Assessor's office and discuss your case with a deputy.
Are taxes prorated between buyer and seller when a business is sold?
No. Any arrangement regarding property tax liability must be worked out contractually, between the buyer and seller.
What is business personal property?
Business personal property includes all property, except inventory items held for sale or short-term rental and real estate owned and/or used by a business. Examples of business personal property include office furniture, computers, machinery, drill presses, and hand tools. (SBE Assessors' Handbook, Section 501).
What is the difference between inventory and supplies?
Basically, inventory are items subject to sale, rent or lease. Supplies are things consumed in your normal course of business. (SBE Assessors' Handbook, Section 501).
How does the Assessor arrive at the taxable value for personal property assessments?
For most property, the Assessor uses the cost reported by the current owner and applies a depreciation/market price factor in order to estimate market value.
Why must sales tax be included in the reported cost?
Sales tax is part of the original cost to the buyer, just like freight and installation costs; it must be reported as part of your total cost. (SBE Assessors' Handbook, Section 501).
What if I don't agree with the taxable values?
Between the time you submit your property's cost information on the form 571-L, and July 1st, you will normally receive a tax statement from the Tax Collector which includes a notation of the amount of value calculated by the Assessor. If you disagree with this value, you are encouraged to file an appeal. See the Clerk of the Board's Web Page in the County where the property is located for instructions and forms.

Calamities - Disaster Relief (Temporary Reduction)

What requirements need to be met to qualify for temporary tax reduction?

The amount of damage must exceed $10,000, and a completed Calamity Claim application must be filed with the Assessor within 12 months of the date of damage.

However, if no application has been filed and the Assessor determines that a property suffered a calamity within the preceding 12 months, the Assessor must send an application to the last known owner of the property. The owner shall file the completed application within 60 days of the date of mailing on the Assessor's notification, but in no case more than 12 months after the date of calamity.

If my furniture was ruined by the flood, can my property taxes be reduced?
No. Household furnishings are not assessed for property taxes and therefore do not qualify for property tax relief.
Do I qualify for property tax reduction if my roof leaked during the heavy rains?
If the leaks are due to the age and normal deterioration of the existing roof, the leaky roof won't qualify you for property tax relief. However, if your roof was damaged by a falling tree or heavy winds and the damage exceeds $10,000, you may qualify for tax relief.
Do boats and airplanes qualify if they were also damaged by the disaster?
Yes. Tax reduction is available for all damaged taxable property, including boats, aircraft or other business personal property.
After my property is rebuilt or repaired, will my property taxes be increased?
No, if the improvements are rebuilt in a like or similar manner, regardless of the actual cost of rebuilding. However, if additional living space or other significant improvements are made in addition to the repair, additional taxes may result

Change of Ownership & Transfer Process

Why did I receive a Change of Ownership Statement (COS)?
A Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR) is required whenever a document evidencing a change of ownership is recorded. If a PCOR is not received, the Assessor Department will mail you a Change of Ownership Statement (COS). The owner of the property is required to complete and return the form, under Section 480 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Failure to file a completed COS will result in a penalty bill of up to $5,000 if the property is eligible for the homeowners’ exemption or $20,000 if the property is not eligible for the homeowners’ exemption.
Why did I receive a COS when there has not been a change of ownership or sale of property?
A Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR) is required whenever a document evidencing a change of ownership is recorded. If a PCOR is not received, the Assessor Department will mail you a Change of Ownership Statement (COS). Failure to file a completed COS will result in a penalty bill of up to $5,000 if the property is eligible for the homeowners’ exemption or $20,000 if the property is not eligible for the homeowners’ exemption.
Do I need to fill out a Change of Ownership Statement (COS) if I don't own the property anymore?
If you receive a Change of Ownership Statement (COS) in the mail, you must complete and return it to the Assessor Department to avoid penalties of up to $5,000 if the property is eligible for the homeowners’ exemption or $20,000 if the property is not eligible for the homeowners’ exemption, even if you don't own the property anymore.
Do I have to provide the purchase price and financing information?
Yes. Purchase price and terms of the purchase are required under Section 480(c) of the R&T Code.
My name is not spelled correctly on the property tax bill. How can I have the spelling corrected or changed?
The name on a property bill must appear exactly as it did on the last recorded document. If the name was spelled incorrectly on the recorded document, you must record a new document with the Clerk Recorder. If the name is misspelled due to a typographical error, contact the Assessor Department for instructions.
Why does my tax bill still have the previous owner's name on it?
By law, the tax bill is issued to the owner of the property as of lien date January 1st each year. If you purchased the property on or after January 1st, the prior owner’s name will appear until the following year.
Where can I obtain the necessary forms to change title?
Most stationery and office supply stores carry blank documents that can be used to change title, such as a Grant Deed or Quitclaim Deed. These documents may also be on-line in some counties.
Can you help me to fill out my deed so that I can change the title to my property?
The Assessor Department cannot advise owners on title changes. You should contact an attorney or a title company for assistance.
Should I notify the Assessor Department when an owner of real estate dies?
If you are authorized to act on behalf of an estate, you should file a PCOR with a copy of the death certificate with the Assessor Department within 150 days of the date of death. If the estate is probated, the PCOR should be completed and returned to the Assessor Department when the inventory and appraisal is filed with the court.
How do I notify the Assessor Department of the death of a real estate owner?
The administrator of the estate should file a PCOR and copy of the death certificate within 150 days of the date of death. If the estate is probated, the PCOR should be completed and returned to the Assessor Department when the inventory and appraisal is filed with the court. For more information, contact your Assessor Department.
Why is a PCOR or COS required if property is held in a trust, and the owner(s) of the trust dies?
A change of ownership occurs as of the date of death. Even though the property remains in the trust, the beneficial interest has transferred from the owner (decedent) to the beneficiary of the trust. A PCOR or COS is required.

Change a Mailing Address

You can update your mailing address by calling your County Assessor Department.

e-File

What is e-File?

Electronic filing of the Business Property Statement uses a web-based application that will allow users to view, modify, and submit BPS filings on-line.

Business owners in California may e-File by using SDR or e-SDR. SDR (Standard Data Record) is designed for large businesses with multiple locations in one or more California counties. SDR simplifies the process of filing annual statements by bundling a group of statements into a single file. The SDR system only accepts statements that are filed electronically in the approved XML format. SDR is not generally recommended for the small business owner.

e-SDR is the system that was designed with the small business owner in mind. Statements are filed through an interactive system with instructions and no special software or programming is required. e-SDR is recommended for businesses with fewer than five locations, as each location requires a separate statement. The process to file electronically is secure and fast. When you or your authorized representative has completed the form you'll receive an immediate, on-line confirmation of your filing. In addition, you'll have the ability to print a copy for your records.

You will need to check with the county to see if they use a different system.

General Information

What and when is a lien date?
The lien date is the day that the taxes become a debt on the property and/or owners, even though the valuation and tax bills have not yet been computed and mailed. The tax lien date is January 1. (R&T Code Section 2192).
What happens if I don't pay these taxes?
The issues of non-payment of taxes needs to be addressed with your County Tax Collector's office.
How do you calculate taxes?
The taxes are calculated by the Auditor-Controller. Property tax rates vary by area.
What does the Assessor do?
The State Constitution requires that the County Assessor identify and value all property in the county for property tax purposes each year.
What does the Auditor-Controller do?
The Auditor-Controller determines property tax rates and calculates the tax amount.
What does the Tax Collector do?
The Tax Collector is responsible for the collection of taxes.
What does the Clerk of the Board do?
The Clerk of the Board's Office may issue appeal forms and schedules property assessment appeals. Please check with your County for their process.

Governor-Declared Disaster - Replacement Property

How is the value of my new replacement property calculated?

If the market value of the replacement is within 120 percent of the market value of the property substantially damaged or destroyed, the factored base year value of the damaged or destroyed property will be transferred to the replacement. (R&T Code Section 69(b)(1)).

If the market value of the replacement is more than 120 percent of the market value of the property substantially damaged or destroyed, the base year value of the replacement will be the factored base year value of the damaged or destroyed property plus the amount by which the value of the replacement exceeds 120 percent of the value of the property that was damaged or destroyed. (R&T Code Section 69(b)(2)).

For a calculation, taxpayers should consult the Assessor where your property is located.
If my property was severely damaged / destroyed by a calamity but no declaration of disaster was issued by the governor, would I still be able to transfer my old base year value?
No. A disaster declaration must have been issued by the Governor for the event that caused the damage. R&T Code Section 69(c)(3)).
Can I transfer the base year value of my severely damaged/destroyed property to another county?
In some cases yes, but only if the county in which the replacement property is located has passed a resolution allowing such transfers and you otherwise qualify. (R&T Code Section 69.3).
Do I have to purchase an already complete replacement property or can I buy land and build a replacement structure on it?
You may do either, as long as the comparable replacement property is acquired or newly constructed within three years after the disaster.

Homeowners' Exemption

What is a Homeowners' Exemption?

A Homeowners' Exemption could save you at least $70 per year.

If you own and occupy your principal place of residence on January 1, you may apply for a Homeowners' Exemption that will exempt $7,000 of your home's assessed value from taxation.

How do I get a Homeowner's Exemption?
New property owners will usually receive an exemption application within 90 days of recording a deed. If you acquired the property more than 90 days ago and have not received an application, please call your Assessor Department for assistance.
What is the filing period for the Homeowners' Exemption?
The deadline to file for the full exemption is February 15. A partial exemption is available if your exemption claim form is filed between February 16 and December 10.
Do I need to reapply for this exemption every year?
No. Once you have filed for a Homeowners' Exemption and you continue to own and occupy the residence, you will automatically receive the exemption. However, if a document is filed with the Clerk-Recorder's Office that changes the way the title is held, you may be required to reapply.
How can I verify that I am receiving a Homeowner's Exemption?
A Homeowners' Exemption will appear as a $7,000 reduction in assessed value on the annual value notice and/or property tax bill.
If I move out and rent my house to someone else, am I still eligible for the exemption?
No. If you do not own and occupy your home as your principal place of residence, you must cancel your Homeowners' Exemption. You can cancel the exemption by writing to the Assessor Department or by using the termination form provided for that purpose. Please let us know the date you moved and provide your new mailing address.
Why do I need to supply Social Security Numbers?
Social Security Numbers are used to verify the eligibility of persons claiming the exemption and prevent multiple claims. Claim forms and Social Security Numbers are kept strictly confidential.

Manufactured Homes

Are mobilehomes the same as manufactured homes?
Yes. The term "mobilehome" was changed in the Revenue and Taxation Code to “manufactured homes” in January, 1992. However, the term “mobilehome parks” is a correct term for communities of manufactured homes.
Are manufactured homes assessable?

Manufactured homes purchased on or after June 30, 1980 and those on permanent foundations are subject to local property taxes. Those purchased before June 30, 1980 may be licensed by the State Department of Housing and Community Development and are not subject to local property taxes if licensed by the state.

If the manufactured home is on the property tax assessment roll, it will receive a base year value, supplemental assessments, and Prop. 8 relief for an economic decline in value.

Is there a minimum size for a manufactured home?

The minimum size is 8ft x 40ft or 320 ft2. Also, the manufactured home must be on a permanent chassis and intended to be used as a dwelling unit.

What part of the manufactured home is assessable?
The basic structure is assessable. Also assessable are all accessories, including, but not limited to, awnings, fences, windbreakers, storage cabinets, heaters, carport, water coolers, cabanas, porches, and skirting.
How does the assessor determine the value of the manufactured home?
The assessor uses cost and depreciation tables published by the State Board of Equalization and the National Automobile Dealers Association's Mobilehome and Manufactured Housing Appraisal Guide. Value is determined using the cost approach which is based on the replacement cost new of the manufactured home, less normal depreciation for the age of the home at the time of transfer.
If I live in a “five-star” mobilehome park, is the value of the park reflected in my property value?
According to the law, the assessor cannot include any value attributable to a particular site or park influence (including the mobilehome park's management, location, amenities, and space lease or rental fees).
What is the difference between a recreational vehicle, a commercial coach, and factory-built housing?

A recreation vehicle includes a motor home, travel trailer, truck camper or camping trailer, with or without motive power, and designed for recreational or emergency occupancy. A manufactured home is not a "recreational vehicle."

A commercial coach (which is a Department of Motor Vehicle term), is a vehicle, with or without motive power, that is used for industrial, professional, or commercial purposes. A manufactured home is not a “commercial coach.”

Factory-built housing is often called "manufactured housing." It is manufactured offsite to be assembled onsite, has a permanent foundation, and must meet local building codes. A manufactured home is not "factory-built housing."