Property Assessment

Learn more about property appraisal for the following property types: 

  • Real Property
    • Real Property consists of land and improvements permanently affixed to land. The following are classified as improvements:
      • Buildings and other structures
      • Wells
      • Septic
      • Roads
      • Orchards
      • Vineyards
      • Certain machinery or equipment affixed to land
    • Article XIII-A of the California Constitution (Proposition 13) requires the Assessor to reappraise all property at its full market value when any of the following occurs:

      • A change in ownership (see exclusions)
      • New construction is completed
      • New construction is partially completed on the lien date
    • As long as there is no new construction or change in title, the base value is not increased more than 2% annually, regardless of the rate of inflation. 
    • The reappraisal of property acquired by inheritance from an estate or living trust occurs as of the date of the death beneficiary. An assessment will be made in the name of the estate even if the property is sold rather than distributed to the heirs.
  • Personal Property
    • Personal property consists of physical property not classified as land or improvements. The following are classified as personal property:
      • Boats
      • Aircraft
      • Mobile homes not on a permanent foundation
      • Commercial, industrial and agriculture machinery and equipment
      • Business supplies, etc.
    • Personal property is reappraised annually. Assessments are based on reported acquisition costs which are adjusted each year to reflect the pertinent depreciation to each type of property.
    • Business owners file an annual Business Property Statement detailing costs and disposals of equipment. Business inventory and licensed vehicles are exempt from taxation. Auditor-Appraisers audit businesses as required by law and as deemed necessary. Learn more about Property Statement E-filing.
  • Boats & Airplanes
    •  Boats and airplanes are appraised annually at their market value. Information on their location and ownership is obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Aeronautics Administration, and on-site inspections. 
    • The California Constitution (Section XIII, Article 1) provides that all tangible property is taxable unless it is otherwise exempted by the Constitution or by the legislature. Household personal property was exempted in the 1950s, but privately-owned boats are still subject to property tax.
    •  Section 5301 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code requires the annual assessment of non-commercial aircraft to the owners as of January 1 of each year. The Assessor of the county in which the aircraft is habitually situated is required to assess the aircraft at its market value. 
  • Mobile Homes 
    • Mobile Homes All new mobile homes /manufactured home (hereafter referred to as MH) purchased after June 30, 1980 are subject to local property taxes. Those purchased prior to June 30, 1980 may either be licensed with the department of Housing and Community Development or on the local property tax rolls. Those on permanent foundations are considered real property. MH improvements (decks, awnings, etc.) are assessed as any other real property improvement. The California Department of Housing and Community Development issues titles to MH not on permanent foundations. 
    • Please note: As of February 11, 1997 Butte County Ordinance #3321 prohibits the installation of any MH older than 1976.
  •  Agricultural Preserves (Williamson Act) 
    • Agricultural Preserves Property owners who sign a contract with the County, under the Williamson Act restricting the use of their agriculture land to farming for a 10 year period, are assessed annually using a legislated form of income capitalization. The preferential value is generally lower than it would be if the land were not restricted. 
    • Homesites, structures, and other non-living improvements are assessed on the same basis as real property listed above. For additional Williamson Act information, see the California State Department of Conservation website

About California Property Tax Assessment

California Property Tax (PDF), a California State Board of Equalization publication, provides an overview of property tax assessment in California. It is designed to give readers a general understanding of California's property tax system. The publication begins with a brief history of Proposition 13, which since 1978 has been the foundation of California's property tax system. It then discusses the roles of key players in property tax assessment-California voters, the Legislature, the State Board of Equalization, and county assessors. It explains which types of property are subject to taxation and which are exempt. It addresses the issue of where property should be assessed. It discusses the annual process of preparing the property tax rolls, the procedure for challenging an assessment, and the process for collecting property taxes. Finally, it covers the yield tax on timber at the time of its harvest.

Although the California Property Tax publication is periodically updated, the laws and rules concerning property tax assessment are continually modified. Therefore, we caution you to consult appropriate sections of the Revenue and Taxation Code and related codes and property tax regulations in order to have the most current information.