Understanding Property Tax

Secured property taxes are calculated based on real property’s assessed value as determined annually by the Office of the Assessor-Recorder.  The secured property tax rate for Fiscal Year 2019-20 is 1.1801%. 

The term “unsecured refers to property that is not secured real estate. The unsecured property tax rate for Fiscal Year 2019-20 is 1.1630%.   In general, unsecured property tax is either for business personal property (office equipment, owned or leased), boats, berths, or possessory interest for use of a space. It can also be based upon supplemental or escape assessments against secured property for prior ownership.

View our property tax resource guide (Español     Filipino     中文 ) to better understand how to navigate San Francisco property taxes.

Property tax timeline

Property owners pay secured property taxes calculated based on the real property’s assessed value as determined annually by the Office of the Assessor-Recorder. Secured Property Tax bills are mailed during the first two weeks of October. They are payable in two installments, due on December 10th and April 10th.  You may either pay the entire tax when the first installment is due, or pay in two installments.  The secured property tax rate for Fiscal Year 2019-20 is 1.1801%.

After a change in ownership or when new construction is completed, state law requires the Office of the Assessor-Recorder to reappraise the property.  If the property is reassessed at a higher value, a supplemental bill will be issued calculated on the difference between the new value and the old or prior value. Supplemental bills are often prorated for a portion of the fiscal year based upon the date of sale or date of construction.

After a change in ownership or when new construction is completed, state law requires the Office of the Assessor-Recorder to determine a new base year value for the property. The new value is determined usually by the current market value of the property and subtracting from prior assessed value. However, if the determination of the new value is delayed, an escape assessment is generated. Once the new value is determined, the Office of the Assessor-Recorder will send you notification of the new assessed amount following a Secured Escape bill.

Secured Escape assessments for prior fiscal years can be set up on a payment installment plan. An Escape Installment Plan allows taxpayers to make annual installment payments over a four-year period. For more information, see Secured Escape Installment Plan.

Unsecured Personal Property, which will have assessments (property values) for Business personal property (leased or owned office equipment), Boats and berths, or Possessory interest (leasing/renting City owned property.  The unsecured property tax rate for Fiscal Year 2019-20 is 1.1630%. 

Unsecured Escape assessments for prior fiscal years can be set up on a payment installment plan. An Unsecured Escape Installment Plan allows taxpayers to make annual installment payments over a four-year period. For more information, see Unsecured Escape Installment Plan.

Unsecured Supplemental or Escape - The term “unsecured supplemental” or “unsecured escape” when attached to real property refers to an assessment that is based on prior ownership of secured property. For example, if the homeowner with a 2010 garage addition sold the property in 2012, the bills issued in 2013 to the original homeowner would be unsecured because the original homeowner no longer owns the property. The 2010 supplemental and 2011 escape would be unsecured and billed to the original homeowner. The 2013 escape would remain secured and billed to the new homeowner. As the property changed ownership in 2012, the 2012 escape bill would be split as unsecured to the prior homeowner and secured to the new homeowner.

Overview:

A requirement for subdivision and condo conversion is to obtain a tax certificate before the final map is recorded.  A tax certificate is a document that certifies there are no current or delinquent property tax obligations and that an additional security payment has been made for any estimated taxes on the existing parcel. After a final map is recorded, the existing parcel is retired from the Assessor-Recorder’s records and new parcel numbers will be assigned. Estimated taxes for assessments that have already been liened or assessed on the existing parcel are required to be collected as a security payment before it is retired. These are collected because the assessments occurred on the existing parcel – not on the future new parcels. 

The Tax Certificate process begins with filling out an application form that can be submitted via email. Outstanding and estimated taxes, as well as a $40 Tax Certificate Fee must be paid in person at City Hall Room 140. The Tax Certificate application process may take up to six weeks, so please plan accordingly.

Tax Certificates are issued on the last business day of the week (generally on Fridays) and only issued via email. The cutoff time for submitting information to have your tax certificate processed on Friday is 12pm on Thursday.

All projects not recorded with the Assessor-Recorder’s office by 12/31 will need to pay estimated taxes for the next Fiscal Year.  Please budget funds accordingly and get your applications in early.

Steps:

  1. Complete an application for a tax certificate and submit it to tax.certificate@sfgov.org with your block and lot in the subject line.  Each parcel must be listed on its own application form.  If you are applying for tax certificates for multiple parcels, please attach them all to one email, with the subject line “Tax Certificate – Multiple Parcels”, and list all the blocks/lot information in the body of the email.

  2. Applications will be reviewed by the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector (TTX) staff for completeness and for outstanding taxes. Taxpayers will be notified of any outstanding tax bills and whether more information is needed to process the application. Taxpayers with complex projects involving ownership changes, new construction or other assessable events may be asked to complete a secondary form (Form B) which will be provided via email after Form A has been received.

  3. When TTX has determined the application is complete, it will be forwarded to the Office of the Assessor-Recorder (ASR) for review.ASR will review the application to ensure that any changes in ownership over the last 12 months have been recorded, and to generate new assessed values for any pending valuation.The review by ASR may take up to four weeks.

  4. After receiving the completed ASR review, TTX will supply the Taxpayer with outstanding tax bill payment stubs via email, an invoice to pay a $40 Tax Certificate Fee for each parcel, as well as any estimated tax bills payment stubs.

  5. Estimated bills and the Tax Certificate Fee must be paid by wire transfer or in person by check made payable to San Francisco Tax Collector or cash; they cannot be mailed, paid online or by credit card.  If payments are made in person, please print out all the payment stubs to submit with payment at City Hall, Room 140.  If the payments are to be wired, submit a service request for wire transfer instructions.  When these payments have been made, please email copies of the receipts to tax.certificate@sfgov.org.

  6. When all outstanding bills, estimated bills, and the $40 Tax certificate fee have been paid and the receipts have been emailed to tax.certificate@sfgov.org, a Tax Certificate is issued via email the following Friday. This may be sent to up to 2 taxpayer representatives and to Department of Public Works. 

How to Read Your Secured Property Tax Bill

Scroll down for descriptions of the numbered sections

Image: Sample Property Tax Bill Page one
Image: Sample Property Tax Bill Page two

DESCRIPTION OF THE NUMBERED SECTIONS

  1. Volume
    The city is divided into 45 volumes -- your volume number indicates the section where your property is located.
  2. Block and Lot Number
    Property is described by Block and Lot numbers according to the city's assessment map.
  3. Tax Bill No
    This is a six-digit number that uniquely identifies a property's tax bill.
  4. Property Location
    Address of the home, building, or vacant lot.
  5. Owner of Record
    Property owner as of January 1, each year.
  6. Mailing Address
    Contact the Office of the Assessor-Recorder to update your mailing address.
  7. Assessment Information
    For more information on how the assessed value is determined, contact the Office of the Assessor-Recorder.
  8. Net Taxable Value
    (Gross Taxable Value of your property) - (Exemptions)
  9. Direct Charges and/or Special Assessments
    Additional fees or outstanding city debts may be added to your property tax bill by other city departments. Contact the appropriate department (listed below) directly for further information:
  10. Total Due
    (Net Taxable Value * Tax Rate) + (Total Direct Charges and Special Assessments). The total due is divided into two equal installments.
  11. Tax Rate (back of tax bill)
    The annual tax rate is recommended by the Controller, adopted by the Board of Supervisors and approved by the Mayor. The Tax Rate varies slightly from year to year.

 

Special Assessment Information

Code

          Description 

Phone

29          Rent Stabilization Fee415-701-2311
31          Civic Center CBD415-658-7979
32          Gtr. Rincon Hill CBD415-536-5880
33          Dogpatch/Potrero GBD415-851-1570
34          Transbay CFD 2014-1877-561-8293
35          ABAG CFD 04-1 (690 Market Street) 877-561-8293
36          GSFA YGRENE PACE 2014866-807-6864
37          CMFA E3 PACE Program844-622-5533
38          Hunters Point CFD #7877-561-8293
39          Redevelopment CFD (South Beach)877-561-8293
40          MB Maintenance CFD #5877-561-8293
41          MB South CFD #6877-561-8293
43          Open PACE Program800-969-4382
44          Time Share Fee415-554-5596
45          Educators LW 2018 Tax  415-355-2203
46          SF Bay Restoration Authority Parcel Tax888-508-8157
47          Japantown CBD415-554-6969
48          Penal Assessment415-554-5596
49          IA No. 1 SA RDA CCSF CFD No. 9877-561-8293
50          Sidewalk Repair415-554-4502
51          Discover Polk CBD415-481-2845
55          Building Inspection-Assessment Cost415-558-6088
56          Bayshore Hester A.D.866-807-6864
57          Union Square Business Imp. District415-781-7880
60          Water Lien415-551-4760
61          Noe Valley CBD415-519-0093
62          North  Market/Tenderloin415-292-4812
63          Upper Market/Castro415-500-1181
64          Fisherman's Wharf415-673-3530
66          Central Market CBD415-957-5985
68          ABAG CFD # 2006 1 - (SF Rincon Hill)877-561-8293
69          ABAG CFD # 2006 2 - (SF Mint Plaza Area)877-561-8293
70          Garbage Lien (RES)415-252-3872
71          Garbage Lien (COMM)415-252-3872
72          Blight Related415-641-2341
73          Ocean Avenue CBD650-273-6223
74          Lower Polk CBD415-692-1289
78          Blight ASAP415-554-4502
79          Dw Code Enf Fee415-558-6220
81          GFSF Commercial PACE877-561-8293
82          Hunters Point CFD #8877-561-8293
83          CSCDA CaliforniaFIRST800-969-4382
84          CA HERO Program800-969-4382
89          SFUSD Facilities District415-355-2203
91          SFCCD Parcel Tax800-676-7516 
92          Apartment License Fee415-558-6220
93          Hotel License Fee415-558-6220
96          Yerba Buena CBD415-644-0728
98          SFUSD -Teacher Support415-355-2203
52          IA1 CFD 2016 (Treasure Island CFD #1)877-561-8293
53          SoMa West CBD415-496-5787
54          Downtown CBD619-540-9667

Need Further Assistance?

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