SACRAMENTO — California taxpayers who disagree with local assessors’ valuation of their property can contact the local assessor’s office to discuss the assessment or appeal their property tax bills.
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“Thanks to Proposition 13, property taxes remain predictable and reasonable for California homeowners,” said Board of Equalization Member George Runner. “Even so, taxpayers should carefully review their bills and know they have the right to challenge any mistakes.”
The window to file an appeal varies by county, and ends either Sept. 15 or Dec. 1. That process is only available to taxpayers who are challenging the assessed value of their property as of Jan. 1. Different appeal periods apply to taxpayers who are appealing an assessment after a property was sold, underwent new construction, or was damaged in a natural disaster or other calamity.
The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) prescribes property tax rules and instructs local agencies on how to handle property tax appeals, and seeks to make the process easy for taxpayers to navigate. A series of videos explaining the process of appealing a property tax assessment is available on the BOE’s Website at www.boe.ca.gov/info/AssessmentVideo/AppealAssessmentIndex.html.
Many California taxpayers know that property tax increases are limited by law, but tax bills can vary greatly under certain circumstances.
Proposition 13 (1978) limits annual property tax increases to 2 percent. However, many homeowners sought temporary reductions of their tax bills — a process allowed by Proposition 8 (1978) — when housing values plummeted during the housing crash. The values of many properties in California were temporarily reduced by percentages much larger than 2 percent. The 2 percent limitation under Proposition 13 does not apply to values under Proposition 8. Now that property values are recovering, property taxes may be increased to reflect a new current market value or to restore the prior Proposition 13 value (including the 2 percent increases), whichever is lower. While increases after a Proposition 8 reduction may exceed 2 percent, a property’s assessed value may never go higher than its value under Proposition 13, even when the current market value increases beyond the Proposition 13 value.
Different rules apply when a property is sold, undergoes new construction, or is damaged in a natural disaster or other calamity. County assessors are required to value properties after those events, and tax bills can vary without regard to any previous assessed value.
Taxpayers who wish to appeal the assessed value of their properties can do so by filing an Application for Changed Assessment, form BOE-305-AH, with their county clerk of the board. Contact information for all 58 county assessors can be found on the BOE’s Website at boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/assessors.htm.