User menu

Frequently Asked Questions

This section will provide you with a list of frequently asked questions about the local property tax process within the City and County of San Francisco. This information will be especially helpful to new homeowners who are paying property taxes for the first time. It will also aid property owners who have discontinued paying their taxes through impound accounts (i.e., as part of their mortgage payments) and are now paying property taxes directly to the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector.

How is the amount of my property tax determined?

Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the valuation placed on my property by the Assessor?

I have recently purchased property. What are my responsibilities as far as taxes are concerned?

When are annual tax bills mailed?

When are supplemental tax bills mailed?

Will I receive a tax bill if I pay my taxes through an impound account?

What does my annual secured property tax bill tell me?

Where can I pay my taxes?

When are my annual taxes due?

What happens if I fail to pay my taxes on time?

If I just pay part of my current taxes, will this stop my property from becoming tax defaulted on June 30?

Are exemptions and assistance programs available to property owners that help defray the amount of taxes due?

How is the amount of my property tax determined?

In order for the amount of your tax to be determined, the Office of the Assessor/Recorder 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 Office of the Assessor/Recorder at (415) 554-5596.

After the Office of the Assessor/Recorder has determined the property value, the Office of the 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. After applying the tax rates, the Office of the Controller calculates the total tax amount. Finally, the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector prepares property tax bills based on the Office of the Controller's calculations, distributes the bills, and then collects the taxes.

Neither the Board of Supervisors nor the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector determines the amount of taxes.

Back to Top

Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the valuation placed on my property by the Assessor?

Yes. If you disagree with the assessed value of your property you may contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder at (415) 554-5596. They can provide you with information on how the value was established.

If you still disagree with the assessed value of your property after reviewing it with the Office of the Assessor/Recorder, you may contact the Assessment Appeals Board for the purpose of appealing your assessment.

If you choose to appeal your assessment, you must still pay your property tax in full by the appropriate deadlines; otherwise, you will incur penalties while the case is on appeal. If your appeal is granted, a refund will be issued to you.

Appeal applications and further information about the appeal process can be obtained by contacting the Assessment Appeals Board.

Back to Top

I have recently purchased property. What are my responsibilities as far as taxes are concerned?

You are responsible for any taxes which 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 Office of the Treasurer & 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.

The secured property tax bill, which is your annual tax bill, is mailed once a year by the end of October. The secured property tax bill contains two payment stubs for the two installments. Depending on when the ownership change is placed on the tax roll, the annual tax bill is sent either to the previous owner or directly to you. If you have not received a secured property tax bill by November 1 please contact our office so that we may mail you your bill. Please also contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder to change the mailing address.

Please remember that the first installment is due by December 10*and the second installment is due by April 10*. State law does not allow the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector to excuse penalties for late payments even if you did not receive a bill.

* If either December 10 or April 10 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.

In addition to annual taxes, you will probably be responsible for paying supplemental property taxes. Any time property is sold, 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. (For more information on supplemental tax bills, please go to our supplemental property tax section.)

Back to Top

When are annual tax bills mailed?

Annual tax bills are mailed each year on or before November 1. If you do not receive your annual tax bill by November 10, you should request one by contacting the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector at (415) 554-4400 or by sending an email.

Tax bills can be obtained in person at the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector located at Room 140, City Hall.

It is your responsibility to obtain your annual tax bill. Failure to receive a bill does not provide a basis for excusing penalties for late payment.

Back to Top

When are supplemental tax bills mailed?

Supplemental tax bills are mailed throughout the year. For information on supplemental tax bills and delinquency dates, please go to Supplemental Property Tax.

Back to Top

Will I receive a tax bill if I pay my taxes through an impound account?

If your taxes are paid through an impound account (i.e., included with your mortgage payment), you will receive your annual tax bill and your lender will receive a copy of your annual tax bill. 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.

Back to Top

What does my annual secured property tax bill tell me?

The annual secured property tax bill identifies the following:

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 secured property tax due for that tax year (July 1 - June 30).

A breakdown of the types of taxes being collected, including the general tax levy, locally voted special taxes, and city or district direct assessments.

If your bill carries a message "Tax-defaulted," this is an indication that there are prior-year delinquent taxes, which are not included in your bill. See delinquent property taxes for more information.

Back to Top

Where can I pay my taxes?

You may pay your secured property taxes online, over the telephone, via mail, or in person at City Hall. Please see Methods of Payment for more information.

Back to Top

When are my annual taxes due?

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. 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 tax bill when you pay the first installment.

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. See supplemental property taxes for information on delinquency dates of supplemental tax bills.

Back to Top

What happens if I fail to pay my taxes on time?

If you do not pay the first installment of your annual tax bill at the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector by 5 p.m. on December 10*, or payment is not postmarked by December 10*, then the taxes become delinquent and a 10% delinquent penalty is added to any unpaid balance. If you fail to pay the second installment at the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector by 5 p.m. on April 10*, or payment is not postmarked by April10*, it becomes delinquent and a 10% penalty plus a delinquent cost of $45 is added to the unpaid balance. If you pay your second installment without having paid the first, your payment will be applied to the unpaid taxes and penalties on the first installment and will leave your second installment unpaid and possibly delinquent. If you fail to pay either or both installments at the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector by 5 p.m. on June 30, **or payment is not postmarked by that date, then the property becomes tax defaulted and additional penalties and costs accrue. See delinquent property taxes for full information.

If you fail to pay the installments of your supplemental tax bill by the applicable delinquency dates, the same penalties accrue as for delinquent annual taxes. Read supplemental property taxes for more information.

* If either December 10 or April 10 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.

** If June 30 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes must be paid by 5 p.m. of the preceding business day.

Back to Top

If I just pay part of my current taxes, will this stop my property from becoming tax defaulted on June 30?

No. ANY unpaid taxes as of June 30 will cause the property to become tax defaulted, and further penalties and costs will accrue. See delinquent property taxes for additional information.

Back to Top

Are exemptions and assistance programs available to property owners that help defray the amount of taxes due?

Yes. Through the Office of the Assessor/Recorder you can apply for the homeowner's property tax exemption, veteran's exemption, or church and welfare exemption. These programs allow for assessment exemptions which result in tax savings. For further information, contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder at (415) 554-5596.

The State of California's Property Tax Postponement program was suspended effective February 20, 2009. Funding for the Homeowner and Renter Assistance (HRA) Program was removed from the state's 2008-2009 budget. Please select our Assistance Programs page for current information on these programs.

Back to Top

Back to Top