A plain-English explanation of how
the California property tax system works
The California property tax links, news, and information on this
site have been provided since
as a public service of James Bone, CPA
Internet Resources Now Available from the
BOE Property Taxes Department [9/01]
(if the BOE
changes its link structure, we'll keep these
links current, so bookmark this page)
TAXES LAW GUIDE - Great on-line
resource for property tax information!
Contains all applicable Constitution, Revenue
& Taxation Code, Property Tax Rules (California
Code of Regulations), and sections of other
California codes relating to property taxes.
All codes and regs are are binding on assessors,
appeals boards, and taxpayers alike. Also
includes Annotations, which are non-binding
informative tidbits of information that the
BOE staff excerpts from court cases, OAG opinions,
TAX RULES - These "Rules" are actually
regulatory laws adopted by the California
Board of Equalization to interpret and implement
Revenue & Taxation Code statutes adopted by
the Legislature. This site has each rule available
as a separate document.
The complete California Code of Regulations
including the property tax rules is available
from the Office
of Administrative Law on the Internet.
Property tax rules are contained in Title
18. Public Revenue Chapter 1. (Click
on the CCR infobase at the site). The rules
are also available in the PROPERTY
TAXES LAW GUIDE
INDEX TO PROPERTY TAX RESOURCES -
A very comprehensive, very helpful
supplement to SBE's Property Taxes Law Guide
Volumes 1 & 2, and includes references to
selected Letters to Assessors, Attorney General
Opinions, court cases, and other assorted
citations. A key to property tax research.
HANDBOOK - Handbook sections that
provide information and advice to assessors,
assessment appeals boards, and property owners.
TO ASSESSORS - Information provided
to assessors and others on current topics
ranging from specific advice on technical
issues, deadline calendars, to news about
county and BOE staff changes. Years from 1978
AND OTHER DOCUMENTS - Source for various
publications and arcane information. For example,
did you know that the total assessed value
of California property on the 2000 roll was
$2,243,320,000,000? That's $2.2 trillion
dollars!!!! At 1%, property taxes raise
$20 BILLION dollars! (That's from the 1998-99
PROPERTIES PROGRAM - Calendar, forms,
newsletter, all applicable to state- assessed
properties (utility companies, railroads,
other cross-county or -state entities. If
you're really technically oriented,
of Microprocessor-Controlled Telephone Switch
Software' right before bedtime.
TOPIC SURVEYS - Timely, informative
BOE surveys of assessors (most respond) on
major issues that keep surfacing in interested
parties meetings on handbooks, rules, and
other BOE policy issues.
TAX COMMITTEE WORK PLANS - Schedule
of the Committee's planned work on property
- mostly forms applicable to state assesses.
REVENUE DISTRICTS - Primarily forms
relating to special revenue (assessment) districts.
RAILROAD CAR PROGRAM - A special section
for those of you who either own, want to ride
in, or work for somebody who owns, a private
BOE Property Tax Committee
The Board of Equalization has revised most of the major sections of the
Assessors' Handbook, but budget considerations have impacted the board's work
2004 Property Tax
Committee work plan contains the current issued the committee is
Annual Assessments: The
annual Assessment Rolls for real and personal property assessments are based on
values as of 1/1 of each year. January 1 is called the lien date because that is
when the following year's taxes become a lien on the property. Generally, rolls
close on June 30. Tax collectors mail unsecured bills through the summer, and
the secured bills in October. Unsecured assessments are due August 31. Secured
taxes are due 11/1 (delinquent 12/10), and 2/1 (delinquent 4/10).[3/04]
Regular Assessment Appeals: Regular assessment appeal periods run from
July 1, of each year either through September 15th, or NOvember 15th. The
deadlines for each year are available at the board's web site.
In most cases, forms (see below) are due by during the regular appeals
period. There are very few exceptions. In a few cases the time is
Sale after 1/1 & before 7/1:
For changes of ownership after the lien date, if the new owner did not receive
the assessment notice, then the time for filing is extended 60 days to 11/15.
(The assessor will also issue a supplemental assessment which will also
open up the same time period.)
Increase more than Prop. 13 limitation and no notice: If the assessor
increased the value more than the maximum under Prop. 13 and did not notify the
property owner, then the owner has 60 days from receipt of either notice or a
tax bill showing the increased assessment. [6/01]
Other Appeals: Most other
appeals including notices of supplemental assessment and escapes or audit bills
are due 60 days after notice. Casualty appeals are still due two weeks after
notice from the assessor of a revised assessment due to an earthquake, fire,
etc. Property owners should continue to watch for supplemental assessments and
escape bills. These should be reviewed and appealed if necessary within the
60-day time limit because there are no extensions of time to appeal. [10/00]
Assessment Appeal Forms:
The SBE has mandated new standard forms for assessment appeals. All counties
have new forms that must be used. Check with your local county appeals board for
the forms. Some, including Orange County, have forms that can be downloaded
directly from the internet. Some counties have also changed their local rules
for processing appeals. Make sure to read the rules that accompany the forms
from each county.
Assessment Appeals Rule Revisions
During 1999, 2000, and into 2001, the BOE Property Tax Committee revised its
rules affecting local assessment appeals hearings and procedures. The last of
the current batch of rules was decided by the Board in June, 2001.
Some of the revisions to the rules are the result of the work on the new
appeals manual. The manual, issued as 'instructions' to assessors and appeals
boards in accordance with California law, will be updated to incorporate the
rule changes and other developments since 1998.
Assessors' Handbook Revisions:
Between 1996 and 1998, the California Board of Equalization Property Tax
Committee under Chairman Dean Andahl implemented revisions of the main
Assessors' Handbooks. The staff of the State Board (formerly the Assessment
Standards Division, now the Policy, Planning, and Standards Department) led the
effort. The California Taxpayers Association, or Cal-Tax coordinated industry comments and
suggestions, and the California Assessors' Association provided input from their
position. As you can see by the links above, the Property Tax Division is using
the Internet as its main distribution process.
Brief Descriptions of New Handbooks:
- AH 501, Basic
- AH 502,
Advanced Appraisal, (12-98) This handbook addresses complex
issues in all three basic appraisal approaches, plus new construction,
intangible assets and rights, and the assessment of complex business
- AH 504,
Assessment of Personal Property and Fixtures, (2002)
This manual includes application of mass appraisal techniques to business
property, special problems in appraising and assessing business equipment and
tangible personal property, situs, and classification of property between
exempt inventory and taxable supplies or equipment. Special sections deal with
classification issues between structural fixtures and other fixtures that are
valued using declining value methods.
- AH 267, Welfare,
Church, and Religious Exemptions, (2002) This manual was revised
concurrently with the more visible and contested 501, 502, and 504 manuals. It
contains updates which reflect court decisions and legislative changes since
the last revision almost 20 years ago. The URL is: http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/ah267.pdf.
- AH 521,
Assessment of Agricultural and Open-Space Properties, (2003) This
manual covers the unique valuation and assessment problems that arise in
agriculture and open space appraisal for California property tax purposes. The
URL is: http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/ah521.pdf.
- AH 560,
Assessment of Mining Properties, (3-97) This manual and the related
manual AH566, present the unique assessment problems and solutions created by
Proposition 13. The URL is: http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/ah560.pdf.
- AH 566,
Assessment of Petroleum Properties, (1999). This manual was the first
of the modern sequence to be issued, in August, 1996, through the cooperation
of the petroleum industry, the Assessors' Association, and the BOE staff. Its
success set the standard for the later handbook sections. The URL is: http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/ah566.pdf.
The BOE has issued this manual as 'instructions' to assessors and appeals
boards in accordance with California law. It is effective immediately.
Work in Process:
- AH510 Possessory
Interests The manual covers the appraisal, assessment, and taxation of
private interests in otherwise exempt government property.
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