The Function of a CA County Assessors Office

The Role of the County Assessors Office

The Role of the County Assessors Office

The CA County Assessor’s Job

As we all know, property taxes in California are determined by the value of our property. Every county Tax Assessor has to identify and calculate the value of many different types of taxable property in all 58 counties in California, as well as deal with property tax appeal challenges, as they come into the Assessor’s office.

The Assessor has always been independently elected in California, and is supposed to be completely objective, working for the people (i.e., voters) in each Assessor’s county – to be able to avoid political or financial influence from any governing county body; to avoid coercion from any city, school or district to accelerate the number of county tax assessments in order to generate more property tax revenue.

Principle Tax Assessor Responsibilities

The Assessor is charged with making sure property owners in California are taxed at the appropriate rates; ensuring that county public services are receiving the funding they need to continue functioning. Tax Assessors have to locate real property, land, various taxable structures via maps, which reveal every known land parcel, along with an “assessment roll”, which details improvements on property as well as ownership. It’s worth noting that household furnishings, livestock for the most part, and business inventory are no longer considered “taxable property”.

Four critical duties Tax Assessors must address are:

1. Locating taxable property

2. Identifying the owners of all taxable real estate

3. Determining the assessed value of all taxable property

4. Publishing yearly assessment rolls, plus supplemental reporting

Locating Taxable Real Estate

The Assessor must locate real property, land, various taxable structures via maps, which reveal every known land parcel, along with an “assessment roll”, which details improvements on property as well as ownership. It’s worth noting that household furnishings, livestock for the most part, and business inventory are no longer considered “taxable property”.

Property Assessment:

Since 1978, California’s property tax system (under state constitution Article-13a), is typically referred to as Proposition 13; with an Amendment in 1986 adding Proposition 58 to the process which provided a parent-to-child exclusion, and allowed beneficiaries to buyout property shares inherited by co-Beneficiaries… abruptly replaced and somewhat altered in Feb of 2021 by Proposition 19; although still providing homeowners and beneficiaries with property tax relief from property tax transfer benefits avoiding property tax reassessment with the right to transfer  and keep parents property taxes when inheriting a home, and  thus inheriting parents’ property taxes with the help of a parent-child transfer, and parent-to-child exclusion from current, or “fair market value” tax property rates.

Proposition 13 evaluates real estate at the 1975 “fair market value”, including factoring in heirs inheriting parents property taxes; with yearly increases curtailed at a 2% or the inflation rate, as measured by the CA Consumer Price Index – or whichever is less.

Real property is reappraised by the Assessor for tax purposes only when there is a change in ownership; new construction on property has been completed; new construction has not been finished as of the “lien date” (Jan 1); or market value has dropped below Proposition 13 factored value on the lien date.

Reappraising Real Property in California

When any taxable property is reappraised due to change of ownership a Tax Appraiser will examine sales of similar properties. Or if the property happens to generate revenue, the Appraiser will execute “an income approach”. If the real property in question is original and unique the Appraiser could potentially use the amount of money, or budget, the property owner spent on construction – or perhaps research industry-wide studies on similar construction, and use those costs instead to base the appraisal on.

As soon as that property has been evaluated, the property owner will be contacted and notified of the new property reassessment, or evaluation, and will be given the opportunity to review and discuss with the Assessor. If the property owner happens to disagrees with the reassessment, the property owner can always apply for a property tax appeal or “revised assessment” with the local Board of Assessment Appeals.  Or enlist the help of a property tax appeal firm.

Property like boats or airplanes are assessed every year based on up-to-date Blue Book information distilled from market sales. Trade equipment is also assessed every year, using a formula based on original cost and age of the equipment.

If none of these items apply, the assessed value of a property can be increased by no more than 2% per year. Sale price of a property is considered be its’ market value unless the Assessor can prove convincingly that market value is not accurately reflected by the sale price. The Assessor is also expected to revise the sales price of a property to prove any value that can be attributable to items that are exchanged in a sale, not for cash; perhaps such as barter.

In many respects, Proposition 13 changed the rules in California – as explained by the County of Napa.org website, which tells us:

Prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, the Assessor reappraised all properties on a four-year cycle, with entire neighborhoods receiving increases in value based on recent sales in that area. Under Proposition 13, values are established at a base year, either as of March 1, 1975, or as of a change of ownership or new construction.

Proposition 13 requires an annual inflationary adjustment, not to exceed 2%. A property with a 1975 base-year value of $100,000 has a cumulative adjustment over the past 43 years of 211%, resulting in a current factored base year value of $211,000. Thus the function of the assessor has gone from doing mass appraisal impacting many properties to an individual appraisal of properties that have changed hands or had new construction.

Ownership records are maintained from documents obtained from the County Recorder. Assessor maps are updated as parcels are subdivided or their boundaries adjusted. Building permits are reviewed for accessible new construction and appraisers make discoveries in the field.

County Assessors Offices, Auditors, Auditor-Controllers, Clerks of the Board & Tax Collectors can found in all 58 counties across  the State of California: Here ~ on the BOE Website

Lowering Property Tax Rates for All Homeowners During the Pandemic

Lowering Property Tax Rates

Lowering Property Tax Rates

In California, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom signed an executive order on May 6th, 2020, to extend the deadline for homeowners who were scheduled to pay their property taxes on April 10th – and to extend business property owners’ deadline of May 7 to complete and file their business property statement. This was supposed to “provide relief for taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19”.  Moreover, Governor Newsom referred to his offer to taxpayers as “property tax relief…”

To be clear, we neither support nor oppose the governor of California here at Property Tax Transfer.  But when we hear something this blatantly disingenuous coming from any politician, we simply must question it.  Property tax relief is property tax relief.  Property tax relief is Proposition 13 or Proposition 58… Genuine property tax relief in California is the lessening, or  lowering, or complete elimination of – property taxes.  What Governor Newsom is referring to is not property tax relief… It’s  property tax deferment.  Putting off payment for a few months.  We would appreciate it very much if political leaders in California would not use such an important term as “tax relief” falsely.

Now, it is entirely possible that the Governor actually wanted to forgive payment completely for certain taxpayers. And under the severe conditions imposed on all of us due to the Coronavirus health crisis and resulting job losses, and lower income suffered by millions of workers in the state – the governor could very possibly have been besieged by political colleagues, and talked out of tax relief – into  tax deferment…  However, why not hold out and insist on giving taxpayers a real break through enhanced Proposition 58 and Proposition 13  – or actually forgive most of these property taxes completely for one  year, or at least discount them considerably?  According to state economists, it would not even have amounted to one quarter of the tax cuts the federal government gave to the wealthiest Americans two years ago!

Many economists have asked, why is it that  a few hundred billionaires and multi-millionaires recently received hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax cuts as “tax-welfare” and “corporate-welfare”, so to speak.  Yet, in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, resulting in the worst job loss disaster since the Great Depression – 160 million middle class and working class property owners received nothing even close to the trillion dollar tax cuts afforded to just a handful of mega-wealthy families only a couple of years ago.

Many financial analysts in California have pointed out that the folks in power in this state did not mind shelling out trillions then – yet now on a state level, when middle class taxpayers desperately need an obvious financial boost such as a property tax cut, or property tax break, the best our state government can do is come up with an essentially useless  tax deferment proposal, and no actual tax cut… or tax relief.  These analysts do have a point.

Local government apologists claim that the $140 billion in property taxes that California typically receives every year is urgently needed right now to pay for essential pandemic services – to cover the cost of public health departments in 58 counties; to cover public hospitals; and – to pay for the school system, which is always sort of tacked on, as if they can’t find that money anywhere else. Local California government agencies insist that they stay open only due to funding that is largely based on… property taxes.

State agencies wrote a letter to the Governor, stating, “Delaying such a large infusion of general funds for two to three months would have a serious impact on their ability to provide these services.” They did not even want to go along with the proposal for deferment that the governor suggested! 

Some folks in the press wisely asked – is not keeping millions of Californians (many whom are elderly, and living on a fixed income) from being evicted and completely losing their home not anessential pandemic service”?

Gov. Newson has forced businesses to shut down, and most certainly will again, understandably and with good intentions – sending workers home to try to slow the spread of Covid 19. Admittedly, the pandemic is out of control in California, as it is in many red states. Folks in all these states want their “freedom”… and so it looks like they are therefore free to avoid wearing masks, free to contract Coronavirus, and free to infect others.

The Governor, ignoring this mass appeal for freedom, closed down businesses back in May anyway.  As a result,  many homeowners were not able to pay their property taxes. Companies all across California have closed to comply with Governor Newsom’s shutdown order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 respiratory complications.   Yet if you’re going to close down those companies, hopefully temporarily, and send workers home at half or no pay – wouldn’t it make sense to then give those workers a significant financial break, as in increased property tax breaks… somewhere along the line, somehow? Such as Coronavirus Prop 58 and Proposition 13 property tax relief!

Certainly homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property from parents can still get a trust loan to buyout co-beneficiaries, and lock down a low property tax base… but reinstating Proposition 58, in terms of the changes Prop 19 has brought about, and adding more teeth to existing property tax breaks that can save Californians significant amounts of cash every month… Would be so relevant during a pandemic, that it’s almost absurd to have to bring it up — when it’s not even in discussion in the Congress or  the Senate.  Not to mention the California Legislature.

So… when the governor calls a two or three month property tax deferment “property tax relief”… it’s no wonder that taxpayers reacted negatively.  Property tax relief refers to lowering the amount to be paid.  Not deferring the payment date!

Governor Newsom told us recently that more than 1.6 million Californians have filed unemployment insurance claims, which the state is struggling to organize and process, to get those checks out. It’s fine to send folks that are out of work unemployment checks – they have paid into that every working week.  But wouldn’t it make even more sense to give them all a property tax break, eliminating Proposition 19 restrictions in light of the Covid outcomes? Preferably forever… But at least as long as the Covid virus rages?

In Tune with Tough Times in California – Free Prop 58 Trust Loan Evaluation – Save Over $6,000 in Property Taxes

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Prop 58 Trust Loan

Prop 58 Trust Loan

California is unique when it comes to utilizing trusts and trust loans, along with taking advantage of incomparable property tax relief measures from as Proposition 13, and exceptional property tax breaks from Proposition 58 (i.e., parental property transfer) and Proposition 193 (i.e., property transfer from grandparents). 

So if you reside in California, are inheriting property there, and want to insure you keep your parent’s low Proposition 13 tax base, along with buying out siblings who insist on selling to an outside buyer – you can go to a niche trust lender who will lend directly to an irrevocable trust for you, to accomplish all of the above.

Commercial Loan Corporation in Newport Beach, CA appears to be everyone’s favorite trust lender, as they specialize in taking full advantage of Proposition 58 & 193 property tax benefits, avoiding property tax reassessment,  making sure you transfer parents property taxes correctly, when inheriting a business facility, home and/or land; abruptly inheriting property taxes that must remain low if you wish to maintain your favored lifestyle!  

You certainly want to work with a lender that has a great deal of experience making sure that beneficiaries and property owners nail down the right to keep parents property taxes, with a low Proposition 13 tax base… for all property tax transfer scenarios, including parent to child transfer, what your attorney probably refers to as “parent to child exclusion”… In other words, exclusion from current property tax reassessment rates. And that typically adds up to saving over $6,000 every year in savings on property taxes. 

The process sounds complicated, but it really just boils down to having a lending firm you can rely on to provide enough liquidity to equalize everything between beneficiaries – providing enough cash to buyout siblings who insist on selling your inherited property; while enabling you to keep that property at a low Proposition 13 tax base.  At the end of the day, it should always be a win-win scenario for everyone involved.

Beneficiaries especially like Commercial Loan Corp’s same-day approval & 7-day funding turnaround – with no hidden fees, a simple application form and flexible underwriting. 

By taking advantage of the Proposition 58 and Prop 193 exclusion;  in tandem with a trust loan, if you happen to be a sibling keeping inherited  property – you get to retain that property and at the same time get to keep parents property taxes, which ends up being a low Proposition 13 base, capped at a 2% maximum rate.  You also get to buyout siblings who insist on selling the inherited home and/or land in question; and ultimately walk off with more money than if they had sold their property shares to an outside buyer.  So what frequently begins as sibling conflict, ends with a win-win resolution for all concerned.  

In many cases, a trust loan is necessary, as otherwise the California State Board of Equalization sees this transaction as a sibling buying out another sibling, or child of the parent. Instead of a parent to child transfer, or parent to child exclusion. The exclusion from present day property tax rate reassessment simply calls for a transfer of property from parent to child.

So the trust loan acts as the bridge, so to speak. You can refer to it  any number of different ways, such as “buying my brother’s share of our house” or “buying out my sister’s property shares”… Or you can call it a transfer of property between siblings, a buy out of siblings share of house, buying out siblings’ property shares, or a sibling to sibling property transfer.  It amounts to the same thing. 

Moreover, regardless of the size of  the trust loan, everyone involved is treated like a V.I.P. client, with first-class cordiality.  Which is the main reason we like to refer this firm.  

You can call Commercial Loan Corporation for a free Proposition 58 Trust Loan Evaluation at 877-464-1066 or visit their website at: https://cloanc.com/

 

Dramatic Savings for Californians, with a Positive Affect on Personal Net Worth, Family Bonding and Peace of Mind

Not to over indulge in generalizations, however when you consider the Proposition 58 tax break, or Proposition 58 property transfer tax relief, in simple human terms, you can clearly see how this type of tax relief allows concerned middle class parents, many of whom without this tax relief would frequently not be able to afford to maintain homes in addition to their own primary property, enabling their young adult children to reside in a safe neighborhood, often nearby; frequently giving middle aged and elderly parents a great deal of peace of mind.

Due to Proposition 58 property transfer tax relief, parents are also able to transfer a primary residence, or perhaps other properties they may own, to their children – without their property being reassessed at market value for state taxation purposes.  Obviously, the difference between having this type of tax relief to take advantage of, as in California; or not having it, as in most other states – can be quite significant.

Click here to look further into details regarding Proposition 58, parent to child transfer, and avoiding property tax reassessment

A home in California that is owned and maintained by the same family over decades, transferred to offspring… is generally assessed at a fraction of the current value of the house and land. This typically makes it possible for young adult, and older adult, children of middle class parents, to raise their own children in a safe middle class environment, as well as saving thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars per year.

The type of key financial support that Proposition 13 and Proposition 58 afford home-owning families in California, often helps to keep a tight knit family closer together, to choose to live nearby as opposed to settling for a less expensive and less desirable dwelling, often far away from family. As we often have noticed, multiple home ownership by doting parents often reveal homes that are near each other — thereby preserving an even tighter family bonding fabric, while establishing a safe environment for the parents’ grandchildren to grow up in.

Whereas if children, and grandchildren did not have this form of tax relief enabled by Proposition 13 and Proposition 58, allowing property transfers without crippling property tax increases – they very well may have had to settle for a less attractive, less safe neighborhood, often far away from the parents, and often exposing children to less desirable elements, and school systems.

The most popular, or well known, scenarios affecting peoples’ lives directly in California; qualifying homeowners for a Proposition 58 tax exclusion, including the transfer of real property:

(a) from parents to children;
(b) from children to parents, as individuals;
(c) from grandparents to grandchildren as individuals;
(d) between joint tenants;
(e) from trusts to individuals;
(f) from individuals to trusts.
(g) to or from any child born of the same parent(s);
(h) to or from any step-child, any son-in-law or daughter-in-law; or any child who was adopted prior to age 18.

Naturally, the most popular scenarios enabling qualification for “property exclusion” include property transfer by inheritance, by gifting, or by sale.