Q. Who collects my property taxes?
A. Property taxes are collected by the County, although they are governed by California State law. The Tax Collector of Butte County collects taxes on behalf of the following entities: the County, the County's 5 incorporated cities, all school districts, and all other taxing agencies located in the County, including special districts (e.g., flood control districts, reclamation districts, park districts). Upon collection of these taxes by the County, appropriate distribution is made to the various taxing agencies.
Q. How is the amount of my property taxes determined?
A. Computation of Taxes: The process of determining your property taxes involves the efforts of 3 County offices: the County Assessor, the County Auditor/Controller, and the County Tax Collector, who work in conjunction to produce and account for your property taxes. In order for the amount of your taxes to be determined, the County Assessor must first assess the value of your property.
Generally, the assessed value is the cash or market value at the time of purchase. This value increases not more than 2% per year until the property is sold or any new construction is completed, at which time it must be reassessed. For more information on how the assessed value is determined, contact the Assessor's Office at 530.538.7721.
After the Assessor has determined the property value, the Auditor-Controller applies the appropriate tax rates, which include the general tax levy, locally voted special taxes, and any city or district direct assessments. The general tax levy is determined in accordance with State law and is limited to $1 per $100 of assessed value of your property. Special taxes and district assessments are passed by vote. After applying the tax rates and direct charges, the Auditor-Controller calculates the total tax amount. Finally, the Tax Collector prepares property tax bills based on the Auditor-Controller's calculations, distributes the bills, and then collects the taxes.
Q. Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the valuation placed on my property by the Assessor?
A. Tax Payers Rights: If you disagree with the valuation placed on your property, you may take the matter up with the Assessor to see if that office will change the valuation. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors has established several Assessment Appeals Boards for the purpose of resolving valuation problems. Appeals on regular assessments must be filed each year between July 2 and September 15 (valuation information is available July 1 at the Assessor's Office). Appeals on corrected assessments, escaped assessments (assessments that did not take place when they should have), or supplemental assessments must be filed no later than 60 days from the mailing date of the corrected, escaped, or supplemental tax bill.
If you choose to appeal your assessment, you should still pay your tax installments in full by the appropriate deadlines; otherwise, you may incur penalties while the case is in appeals. If your appeal is granted, a refund will be issued to you. Appeals applications and further information about the appeals process can be obtained by calling 530.538.7721.
Q. I have recently purchased property. What are my responsibilities as far as taxes are concerned?
A. New Owner Information: As a new owner, you are responsible for any taxes that were not paid as of the time escrow closed. Even though taxes are prorated between the buyer and seller during escrow and proper credit is given to each, the actual taxes may not have been paid to the Tax Collector by that time. You should read your escrow papers and/or title report to determine if any portion of the annual taxes were paid by the previous owner before the close of escrow.
Annual tax bills, which can be paid in two installments, are mailed once a year by November 1. Since the bill contains payment stubs for both installments, this is the only bill regularly mailed each year by the Tax Collector. Depending on when the ownership change is placed on the tax roll, the annual tax bill could be sent either to the previous owner or directly to you.
If there are any remaining unpaid taxes, and if you did not receive an annual tax bill from either the previous owner or the Tax Collector, you should contact the Tax Collector immediately and request one. It is your responsibility to obtain the bill. State law stipulates that failure to receive a bill does not permit the Tax Collector to excuse penalties on late payments.
In addition to annual taxes, you will probably be responsible for paying Supplemental Property Taxes. Any time property is sold or improved, the value of the property is reassessed. If the property has been reassessed at a higher value, you will receive one or more supplemental tax bills in addition to the annual bill mentioned above. If the property has been reassessed at a lower value, you will receive a refund.
Q. Will I receive a tax bill if I pay my taxes through an impound account?
A. If your taxes are paid through an impound account (i.e., included with your mortgage payment), your lender will receive your annual tax bill, and you will receive an informational copy.
Supplemental tax bills, however, are not sent to your lender, but are mailed directly to you. It is your responsibility to contact your lender to determine who will pay the supplemental tax bill.
Q. What does my annual tax bill tell me?
A. The annual tax bill identifies the following:
- The owner of record as of January 1.
- The property location and description.
- The assessed value of the property.
- The amount and type of exemption, if applicable.
- The amount of taxes due on the first and second installments, as well as the total taxes due.
- A breakdown of the types of taxes being collected, including the general tax levy (the constitutional "1%" levy), locally voted special taxes, and city or district direct assessments.
- If your bill carries the legend "Defaulted Taxes", this is an indication that there are prior-year delinquent taxes, which are not included in your bill. Contact the Tax Collector to determine what is delinquent at 530.538.7701.
Q. When are my annual taxes due?
A. You may pay your annual tax bill in two installments. The first installment is due November 1 and becomes delinquent at 5 p.m. on December 10, and the second installment is due February 1 and becomes delinquent at 5 p.m. on April 10. You may, however, elect to pay the entire bill when you pay the first installment. If you itemize your income taxes, this may be an advantage to you when calculating the deduction on your Federal and State income taxes.
Supplemental tax bills are mailed throughout the year and, therefore, may not be due or delinquent at the same time as your annual tax bill.
Q. What do you mean by new construction or change of ownership?
A. Typically, new construction is any substantial addition to real property (e.g., adding a new room, pool, or garage) or any substantial alteration which restores a building, room, or other improvement to the equivalent of new (e.g., completely renovating an outdated kitchen). Most changes in ownership caused by the sale of property result in reassessment. However, interspousal transfers, the transfer, sale, or inheritance of property between parents and their children, and the addition of joint tenants do not result in the reappraisal of property values.
Furthermore, homeowners over the age of 55 years who sell their principal residence and purchase a replacement dwelling within two years that is of equal or lesser market value and is located in the same county are eligible to transfer the pre-sale assessed value of their original property to the replacement dwelling.
For further information or claim forms, please contact the office of the Assessor at 530.538.7721.
Q. What happens when the Assessor reassesses my property?
A. The Assessor first determines the new value of the property based on current market values. The Assessor then calculates the difference between the new value (set at the time of purchase or completion of new construction) and the old value (set on January 1 of the previous fiscal year). The result is the supplemental assessment value. Once the new assessed value of your property has been determined, the Assessor will send you a notification of the amount to be assessed.
New value at date of purchase or completion of new construction $120,000
Assessed value for current fiscal year- 100,000
Supplemental assessment value will be $ 20,000
This reassessment usually results in an increase in property value, in which case your supplemental taxes will be calculated by the Auditor-Controller based on the change in value, and one or more supplemental tax bills will be created and mailed to you by the Tax Collector. However, in some instances the reassessment results in a reduction in value, in which case a refund will be prepared by the Auditor-Controller and mailed to you. A reduction in value will not reduce the amount due on the annual tax bill. The annual tax bill must be paid in the amount originally billed.