In some states, you pay property taxes in arrears. In California, you pay half the tax in advance, and the other half in arrears of the start of the fiscal year. Arrears, however, is a deceptive term because it literally means money owed as a past due amount. The due dates are set forth by state law and you must pay the taxes on those dates.
Lien, Due and Fiscal Year Dates
On January 1st, California properties incur a lien for tax due for the property the following state tax year, which runs July 1st through June 30th, according to the California State Board of Equalization. The tax payer receives the bill in two installments, the first one due on November 10 and delinquent after December 10, and the second due February 1 and delinquent after April 10. In California, there is no penalty for paying any time before or on the delinquent date. Consequently, most people use this as the due date.
If you do not pay an installment on or before the delinquent date in California, you incur a penalty of ten percent. Each month the payment remains unpaid, you also incur a redemption fee of 1.5 percent. If you do not redeem, or repay the late taxes and fees within five years of their due date, the tax collector may sell your property at public auction to obtain payment.
Taxpayers in California do not have the right to appeal the tax rate, but do have the right to appeal tax assessments. An assessment is the value given to their property for tax purposes. The property tax is determined by multiplying the tax rate by the assessed value, less any exemptions. For most counties, you can file an assessment appeals from July 2 through November 30 for the lien placed the preceding January 1.
In California, a number of classes of taxpayers and of property are eligible for full or partial tax exemptions. This includes veterans, disabled veterans, homeowners, schools, churches, colleges and cemeteries. You must make exemption claims by February 15 after the January 1 lien.
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