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How Are Property Taxes Calculated In California

Property taxes play a significant role in funding local government services and infrastructure in California. If you own real estate in the state, it's essential to understand how property taxes are calculated. We will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how property taxes are calculated in California. By understanding the calculation process, you can better manage your property tax obligations and plan your finances accordingly.

Property Assessment
The first step in calculating property taxes in California is determining the assessed value of your property. The assessed value is the value placed on your property by the county assessor, which serves as the basis for calculating property taxes. Assessors typically reassess properties when they change ownership or undergo significant improvements.

Proposition 13 and Assessed Value Limitations
California operates under Proposition 13, a constitutional amendment passed in 1978 that limits the increase in assessed property values. Under Proposition 13, the assessed value of a property cannot increase by more than 2% annually, unless there is a change in ownership or new construction. When a property changes ownership, it is reassessed at its current market value.

Tax Rate
Once the assessed value of your property is determined, it is multiplied by the applicable tax rate to calculate the annual property tax amount. The tax rate is a combination of various local government levies, including school districts, counties, cities, and special districts. The tax rate is expressed as a percentage of the assessed value.

Proposition 8 and Temporary Assessment Reductions
In some cases, the market value of a property may be lower than its assessed value. Proposition 8 allows for temporary assessment reductions when a property's market value declines. When the market value of a property is lower than its assessed value, the assessor may temporarily adjust the assessed value to reflect the current market conditions. This ensures that property owners are not overburdened with taxes based on outdated values.

Exemptions and Deductions
California offers several exemptions and deductions that can help reduce your property tax liability. Some common exemptions include the homeowner's exemption, disabled veteran's exemption, and the senior citizen exemption. These exemptions lower the assessed value of your property, reducing the amount of property taxes you owe.

Mello-Roos and Special Assessments
In addition to the standard property tax, some properties in California may be subject to additional assessments, such as Mello-Roos or special assessments. Mello-Roos districts are established to fund infrastructure projects within specific communities, and the additional assessments are collected to repay bonds issued to finance these projects. Special assessments may be imposed for services like street lighting, landscaping, or sewer maintenance within certain districts.

Payment and Deadlines
Property taxes in California are typically due in two installments. The first installment is due on November 1st and becomes delinquent if not paid by December 10th. The second installment is due on February 1st and becomes delinquent if not paid by April 10th. It's important to pay your property taxes on time to avoid penalties and interest.

Proposition 58 and Prop 193 - Parent-Child and Grandparent-Grandchild Exclusions
Proposition 58 and Proposition 193 provide exclusions that allow transfers of property between parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren without reassessment of the property's value for property tax purposes. These exclusions can be advantageous for preserving low property tax assessments when transferring property within the family.

Annual Assessment Notification
Every year, the county assessor's office sends an annual assessment notification to property owners, which provides information on the assessed value of the property and the estimated property taxes.