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Property Tax FAQs

When may I open an installment account?
Are other exemptions and assistance programs available that will help defray the amount of supplemental taxes due?
Can delinquent supplemental taxes be paid on an installment plan?
What happens if I fail to pay my supplemental tax bill?
If payment of the supplemental tax bill is not made before the delinquency date because of a misunderstanding between my lender and myself, may I have the penalties excused?
When do supplemental tax bills have to be paid?
Will I receive more than one supplemental tax bill?
When I purchase property or complete construction at some point during the fiscal year, will I be taxed on the supplemental value for the entire fiscal year?
What if I purchase a piece of property and then sell it again after a few months?
What does the supplemental tax bill tell me?
If I pay my property taxes through an impound account (i.e., with my mortgage payment), will my lender get my supplemental tax bill?
If I receive a supplemental tax bill, will I also receive an annual tax bill in October of each year?
Do I have the same right to appeal the Office of the Assessor/Recorder's supplemental assessed value as I do the annual assessed value?
What happens when the Office of the Assessor/Recorder reassesses my property?
What do you mean by new construction or change of ownership?
If my first installment account defaults, may I open a second account?
Do my installment payments cover my current annual taxes?
How often will I be required to make installment payments?
How do I open an installment plan of redemption?
What happens if I cannot pay the full redemption amount?
Can I redeem one delinquent year separately from other years?
How do I obtain an estimate of the amount required to redeem my property?
What is the amount required to redeem tax-defaulted property?
What happens if I fail to pay my delinquent taxes?
Are exemptions and assistance programs available to property owners that help defray the amount of taxes due?
If I just pay part of my current taxes, will this stop my property from becoming tax defaulted on June 30?
What happens if I fail to pay my taxes on time?
When are my annual taxes due?
Where can I pay my taxes?
What does my annual secured property tax bill tell me?
Will I receive a tax bill if I pay my taxes through an impound account?
When are supplemental tax bills mailed?
When are annual tax bills mailed?
I have recently purchased property. What are my responsibilities as far as taxes are concerned?
What happens if I fail to pay my property taxes on time?
How were changes in property value due to sale of property or new construction taxed in the past?
Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the valuation placed on my property by the Assessor?
How is the amount of my property tax determined?
Q: When may I open an installment account?
A: You can open an installment account after the date on which the property has become tax defaulted (June 30) and within five years of that date (at which time your property becomes subject to the power of sale).
 
A payment plan may also be set up for secured escape assessments for prior fiscal years as well as unsecured escape assessments for prior fiscal years. Information on setting up a payment plan for these bill types appears on the back of the tax bill.

Q: Are other exemptions and assistance programs available that will help defray the amount of supplemental taxes due?
A: Supplemental taxes are eligible for the same property tax exemptions and assistance programs as your annual taxes. In addition to the homeowner's exemption, you can apply through the Office of the Assessor/Recorder for a number of other assessment exemptions (e.g., veteran's, church, and welfare) that result in savings. You must, however, file for all exemptions before the 30th day following the date of the notice from the Office of the Assessor/Recorder of your supplemental assessment. For further information, contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder, Exemption Services 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.

Q: Can delinquent supplemental taxes be paid on an installment plan?
A: Yes. Delinquent supplemental taxes can be paid on an installment plan in the same manner as your annual property taxes. See Delinquent Property Tax for more information.

Q: What happens if I fail to pay my supplemental tax bill?
A: The same rules apply as for unpaid annual tax bills. If your supplemental tax bill is not paid by June 30, the property becomes tax defaulted (even if you have paid your annual secured property tax bill). If the second installment of supplemental tax becomes tax defaulted at 5 PM on June 30th, that supplemental bill cannot cause the property to be declared tax defaulted until the end of the following fiscal year. At the end of the fifth year of delinquency the property becomes subject to the power of sale as described in our pamphlet on delinquent property taxes.

Q: If payment of the supplemental tax bill is not made before the delinquency date because of a misunderstanding between my lender and myself, may I have the penalties excused?
A: No. State law stipulates that this is not an acceptable reason for excusing penalties.

Q: When do supplemental tax bills have to be paid?
A: The date on which supplemental tax bills become delinquent varies depending upon when they are mailed by the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. If the bill is mailed between July 1 and October 30, the taxes become delinquent at 5 p.m. on December 10 for the first installment and 5 p.m. on April 10 for the second installment (the same delinquency schedule as for annual tax bills mailed in November).
 
If the bill is mailed between November 1 and June 30, the delinquency dates - which are printed on the bill - are determined as follows: The first installment is delinquent at 5 p.m. on the last day of the month following the month the bill was mailed; the second installment is delinquent at 5 p.m. on the last day of the fourth month after the first installment delinquency date.
 
Penalties of 10% are added to any installment which is not paid on time, and an additional $45 charge is added to a late second installment.

Q: Will I receive more than one supplemental tax bill?
A: Yes, It is possible to receive more than one supplemental tax bill, depending on when the ownership change or completion of new construction occurred and when the Office of the Assessor/Recorder recorded the new value on the tax roll.
 
Because property is assessed each January 1 for the upcoming fiscal year (July 1- June 30), you will receive one supplemental bill if the change in property value due to ownership change or new construction is recorded on the tax roll between June 1 and December 31; you will receive two supplemental bills if the change in property value is recorded on the tax roll between January 1 and May 31.

Q: When I purchase property or complete construction at some point during the fiscal year, will I be taxed on the supplemental value for the entire fiscal year?
A: No. You are taxed only on the supplemental value for the portion of the current fiscal year remaining after you purchased the property or completed new construction. However, if the reassessment was not recorded by the Office of the Assessor/Recorder before January 1, you will receive an additional supplemental tax bill for the next fiscal year.

Q: What if I purchase a piece of property and then sell it again after a few months?
A: If you purchase and then sell property within a short period of time, the supplemental tax bill you receive should cover only those months during which you owned the property, and the new owner should receive a separate supplemental tax bill. Because of the large number of parcels and frequency of property changing hands in the City and County of San Francisco, there are often delays in placing new assessments on the roll. Be sure to check the dates used to prorate the bill to ensure that the period covered is the period during which you actually owned the property. If you receive an incorrect tax bill, contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder at (415) 554-5596.

Q: What does the supplemental tax bill tell me?
A: The supplemental tax bill provides the following information:
 
The owner (or new owner as of the date of ownership change).
 
The fiscal year for which the taxes are assessed.
 
The location and legal description of the property.
 
The old and the new assessed value and the difference (net supplemental assessment) upon which the tax is computed.
 
The type and amount of any exemptions (e.g., homeowner's).
 
The total amount of taxes due based upon the net increase in value.
 
The date of ownership change or completion of new construction. This date is used to prorate the tax for the period remaining in the current fiscal year for which the bill was issued.
 
The bill may be paid in two installments and provides payment stubs for each installment, which show the amount due and the date that the amount must be paid to avoid penalties for late payment.

Q: If I pay my property taxes through an impound account (i.e., with my mortgage payment), will my lender get my supplemental tax bill?
A: No. Unlike the annual tax bill, lending agencies do not receive a copy of the supplemental tax bill. When you receive a supplemental tax bill, you must contact your lender to determine who will pay the bill.

Q: If I receive a supplemental tax bill, will I also receive an annual tax bill in October of each year?
A: Yes. The supplemental tax bill is sent in addition to the annual tax bill and both must be paid as specified on the bill. For information on the annual tax bill, see Understanding Property Tax.

Q: Do I have the same right to appeal the Office of the Assessor/Recorder's supplemental assessed value as I do the annual assessed value?
A: Yes. You may contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder to see if the assessed value can be reassessed. Additionally, you may contact the Assessment Appeals Board for the purpose of resolving valuation disagreements in connection with supplemental tax bills. Please note, there is a deadline for when applications to appeal must be filed, please check with the Assessment Appeals Board for further information.
 
If you choose to appeal your assessment, you must pay your tax installments in full by the appropriate deadlines; otherwise, you may incur penalties while the case is on appeal. If your appeal is granted, a refund will be issued to you.

Q: What happens when the Office of the Assessor/Recorder reassesses my property?
A: The Office of the Assessor/Recorder first determines the new value of the property based on current market values. The Office of the Assessor/Recorder 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 Office of the Assessor/Recorder will send you a notification of the amount.
 
Example:
 
New value at date of purchase or completion of new construction $600,000
 
Assessed value for current fiscal year $400,000
 
Supplemental assessment value will be $200,000
 
This reassessment usually results in an increase in property value, in which case your supplemental taxes will be calculated based on the change in value, and one or two (sometimes three) supplemental tax bills will be created and mailed to you by the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector.
 
However, in some instances the reassessment results in a reduction in value, in which case a refund will be prepared 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 by the deadline to avoid any penalties.

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 that 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 or transfer of property result in reassessment.
 
There are some limited exceptions. Please contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder for details.
 
For further information or claim forms, please contact the Office of the Assessor/Recorder at (415) 554-5596.

Q: If my first installment account defaults, may I open a second account?
A: If your first account defaults either because of your failure to make at least one installment payment between July 1 and April 10, or because of your failure to pay your current year's taxes in full by April 10, you may open another account. However, the second account may not be opened until July 1 of the following fiscal year. You may NEVER reopen an installment account in the same calendar year that the property becomes subject to the power of sale.
 
If you default a second time, you may open a third installment account. However, if your first redemption account bill defaulted five years ago, no further installment accounts will be permitted, and your property will become subject to the power of sale the following June 30. In that case, your property will be sold at a public auction or acquired by a public agency if you do not pay the full redemption amount before the date on which the property is offered for sale or acquisition.
 
Each time you open an account, you have five years to pay the full redemption amount. However, it is to your advantage not to default on an installment account, since there is an additional penalty. When a second or third installment account is opened, the redemption amount is computed as though no previous payments had been made. This means you will be charged the 1-1/2% monthly penalty on the unpaid taxes as though none of those taxes had been paid. However, as soon as the first payment on the second or third account has been made, you will be given credit for any previous payments.
Q: Do my installment payments cover my current annual taxes?
A: No. Your installment payments NEVER include your current year's taxes, which must be paid separately.

Q: How often will I be required to make installment payments?
A: Under the installment plan you are required to make one payment each year for five years, in addition to paying each year's annual taxes. By each April 10 you must make one payment of 20% or more of the redemption amount, plus interest (which accrues at the rate of 1-1/2% per month on the unpaid balance once the account has been opened). If you fail to make any installment payment or fail to pay your current year's taxes or any supplemental taxes on or before April 10 of each year, then your account will default.
 
You can, however, pay the total unpaid balance plus accrued interest any time before the fifth and final payment is due.

Q: How do I open an installment plan of redemption?
A: To open an installment plan, you must:
  1. Make an initial payment of at least 20% of the redemption amount and;
  2. Pay your current year's taxes.If you open an installment account between July 1 and the following April 10, the current year's taxes and any supplemental taxes must be paid by April 10 or the account will default. To open an account between April 11 and June 30, the current year's taxes (plus any penalties and charges) must first be paid in full.

Q: What happens if I cannot pay the full redemption amount?
A: If you are unable to pay the full redemption amount (i.e., unpaid taxes for all delinquent years plus penalties and charges), you may open an installment plan of redemption, so long as your unpaid taxes have not been delinquent for more than five years from the date they became tax-defaulted. This plan allows you to make payments on your delinquent taxes over a five-year period beginning the date you open the installment account. There is an administrative charge of $50 for initiating an installment payment plan.

Q: Can I redeem one delinquent year separately from other years?
A: No, one year's delinquent taxes may not be redeemed separately from other years' delinquent taxes. When the redemption amount is calculated, the total taxes owed for all delinquent years are combined together.

Q: How do I obtain an estimate of the amount required to redeem my property?
A: To obtain an estimate of the amount required to redeem your property, you should contact the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector by calling (415) 554-4499 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..
 
You will need to provide the block and lot number, which you can find on a previous tax bill. Also, be sure to specify the date on which you wish to redeem so that the penalty can be calculated properly.

Q: What is the amount required to redeem tax-defaulted property?
A: The amount needed to redeem tax-defaulted property in full is the sum of the following:
  • Total amount of unpaid taxes for all delinquent years.
  • 10% penalty on every unpaid installment.
  • $10 delinquent cost for each delinquent tax bill enrolled before July 1, 2008, and a $45 delinquent cost for each delinquent tax bill enrolled on or after July 1, 2008.
  • Monthly penalties of 1-1/2% of the unpaid taxes accrued to date.
  • Redemption fee of $55.

Q: What happens if I fail to pay my delinquent taxes?
A: Your taxes can remain unpaid for a maximum of five years following their tax default, at which time your property becomes subject to the power of sale. This means that your property will be sold at a public auction or acquired by a public agency if you do not pay the taxes before the date on which the property is offered for sale or acquisition.

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

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

Q: What happens if I fail to pay my taxes on time?
A: 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.

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. 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.

Q: Where can I pay my taxes?
A: 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.

Q: What does my annual secured property tax bill tell me?
A: 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.

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), 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.

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

Q: When are annual tax bills mailed?
A: 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.

Q: I have recently purchased property. What are my responsibilities as far as taxes are concerned?
A: 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.)

Q: What happens if I fail to pay my property taxes on time?
A: 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 that date, then that installment becomes delinquent, and a 10% delinquent penalty is incurred. 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 that date, it becomes delinquent, and a 10% penalty on the unpaid taxes as well as an administrative charge of $45 are added. Likewise, if you fail to pay any supplemental tax bill installment by the applicable delinquency date, the same penalties and charges accrue as for delinquent annual taxes.If there are ANY unpaid taxes as of 5 p.m. on June 30**, then the property becomes tax defaulted. Once the property has become tax defaulted, a redemption fee of $55 and additional penalties begin to accrue at the rate of 1-1/2% per month of the unpaid taxes. This monthly penalty is added at 5 p.m. on the last day of each month (or the following business day if the last day of the month falls on a weekend or holiday).
 
* 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.

Q: How were changes in property value due to sale of property or new construction taxed in the past?
A: Before July 1983, the Office of the Assessor/Recorder reassessed property just once each year on March 1 for taxes due the following fiscal year (July 1- June 30). Any change in property value resulting from a change in ownership or the completion of new construction that took place after March 1 was not reevaluated and taxed until the following year.

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

Q: How is the amount of my property tax determined?
A: 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.

 

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