Assessor FAQ No. 1 - What is the Assessor's function? The Assessor has the responsibility for annually discovering and assessing all property, and keeping track of all persons owning, claiming, possessing or controlling it, within the County as required by law. The Assessor must produce and deliver an assessment roll by July 1 of each year. The Assessment Roll becomes the base upon which local property taxes are levied, collected and distributed to the state (schools), cities, development agencies, special districts, and the County of Tulare.
Values all taxable property in the County.
Audits entities doing business in the County.
Processes all property tax related exemptions in the County.
Establishes and maintains a set of approximately 5500 maps for assessment purposes, delineating every parcel of land in the County. These parcel maps serve as the basis for the assessment of real property in Tulare County for the approximately 142,000 parcels. These maps are continuously updated to reflect new subdivisions and surveys. The maps are available for review on this webite (see link below) and may be purchased at the Assessors Office.
Provides a public information service to assist taxpayers with questions regarding their property and about assessment practices.
Contrary to popular belief, the Assessor DOES NOT:
Set property tax rates.
Compute property tax bills.
Mail out tax bills.
Establish property tax laws.
Collect property taxes.
File liens for property tax delinquencies.
Settle property line disputes or determine who is legally the owner of any property.
Write property descriptions for use by taxpayers in transferring their property.
Assessor FAQ No. 2 - What is a Supplemental Assessment? State law requires the Assessor's Office to reappraise property upon change in ownership or completion of new construction. The Assessor's Office must issue a supplemental assessment which reflects the difference between the prior assessed value and the new assessment. This difference in value is prorated based on the number of months remaining in the fiscal year, ending June 30. (Generally, Supplemental Assessments are not accounted for in escrow dealings, but the new property owner should be made aware of the supplemental process.)
This is in addition to the regular tax bill. Notices of the supplemental assessment(s) are mailed out to property owners prior to the issuance of the tax bill. The owner has the right to file an application for appeal within 60 days of the date of notice. Because of legal and workload ramifications, it normally takes several months to generate a supplemental tax bill. If you acquire a piece of real estate, or add real property improvements after January 1 and prior to May 31, you will receive two (2) bills.
Assessor FAQ No. 3 - When is real property reappraised? Under State law (Proposition 13), real property is reappraised only when a change-in-ownership occurs, or upon completion of new construction. Except for these two instances, property assessments cannot be increased by more than 2% annually, based on the California Consumer Price Index. The property tax rate is 1% plus any bonds, fees, or special charges.
When a sale or transfer occurs, the Assessor's Office receives a copy of the deed and determines if a reappraisal is required under State law. If it is required, an appraisal is made to determine the new market value of the property. The owner is then notified of the new assessment and has the right to appeal the value.
The transfer of property between husband and wife does not require a reappraisal for property tax purposes. This includes transfers resulting from divorce or death. In addition, a refinancing will not cause a reappraisal. There are other exclusions for senior citizens, the disabled, and those involving parent/child transfers which are discussed later. For more information, call (559) 636-5100.
Assessor FAQ No. 4 - What is New Construction? Copies of all building permits are sent to the Assessor's Office by the cities and County. If the construction is new (such as a room addition), a reappraisal is required. If the construction is for replacement, repair, or maintenance, a reappraisal is not required. In appraising new construction, the market value of the addition is determined and added to the value of the existing property. The existing property, however, is not reappraised. As with a change-in-ownership, the owner is notified of the new assessment and can appeal the value. For more information, call (559) 636-5100.
Assessor FAQ No. 5 - What is a Preliminary Change-in-Ownership Report? State law requires the property owner to file this form with the County Recorder when recording certain documents. If the form is not filed, the Recorder will charge an additional recording fee of $20.00. The report is still required by law to be provided even though the $20.00 may have been paid. Information furnished on this form by the property owner assists the Assessor and is not a public document. Failure to provide the Assessor with the report will result in substantial penalties.
Assessor FAQ No. 6 - Are Mobilehomes subject to property taxes? All new mobilehomes purchased after June 30, 1980, and those on permanent foundations, are subject to property taxes. As with real property, the assessed value on mobilehomes cannot be increased by more than 2% annually, unless there is a change in ownership or new construction. Mobilehomes bought before June 30, 1980 are generally not subject to property taxes. They should be licensed, which is under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Housing and Community Development. They can be reached (toll free) at 1-800-952-8356. Once a license has not been renewed, the mobile home becomes subject to property taxes. If a mobilehome is destroyed by a calamity, then there are legal provisions available to relieve an unfair tax burden.
Assessor FAQ No. 7 - How is Business Personal Property appraised? Unlike real property, business personal property is reappraised annually. The owners of all businesses must file a property statement each year detailing costs of all supplies, equipment, fixtures and real estate (if any) at each location. Although you may no longer own the business, you are required to complete the business property statement and advise the Assessor of the new owner. If you owned the equipment on January 1, it is assessable to you. (Business inventory is exempt from taxation.) If equipment is out on lease or rent on January 1, it is reportable and assessable. If you receive a property statement from the Assessor and/or have over a $100,000 cost in your equipment and/or supplies, you are required by law to file a property statement. If you forward a duplicate copy of your property statement along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, we will indicate the values from your statement and return it to you.
Assessor FAQ No. 8 - Are Boats and Aircraft subject to property taxes? Boats and airplanes are taxable and appraised annually. Their value is determined by reviewing the purchase price and the sales of comparable boats and airplanes, blue books, and guides provided by the State Board of Equalization. Information on their location and ownership is obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, airport managers, and on-site inspections.
Assessor FAQ No. 9 - How do I appeal my assessment?
Differences over the valuation of property are handled by the Assessment Appeals Board. This is an independent board composed of three private citizens (and two alternates) appointed by the County Board of Supervisors. They consider all evidence presented by the property owner and the Assessor's Office at a formal hearing. The Appeals Boards then determines the value of the property in question. Appeals for regular assessments must be filed between July 2 and November 30. Appeals on supplemental assessments must be filed within 60 days of the date on the supplemental notice. The Assessor=s Office is always willing to attempt to remedy value disputes, but you must come into our office or call in order to bring the matter to our attention.
ALL APPLICATIONS FOR ASSESSMENT APPEAL MUST BE FILED WITH
THE CLERK OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ADMINISTRATION BUILDING 2800 WEST BURREL AVENUE VISALIA CA 93291 Telephone: (559) 636-5000
Assessor FAQ No. 10 - What is the Williamson Act (Ag Preserve)? The California Land Conservation Act of 1965, commonly referred to as the Williamson Act, is a tax relief measure for owners of farmland. The act permits a landowner, whose land is used for farming, to sign a contract with the County guaranteeing that the land will continue to remain in farming for a period of at least 10 years. In return for this guarantee, the Assessor annually values land and growing improvements in the Act using a restricted income approach rather than the market value. The farmer gets the benefit of being taxed on the lower of the total base year value, current market value, or restricted (AG Preserve) value. Generally, this means the taxes for the farmer are reduced, sometimes greatly. You must apply to the Tulare County Planning Department by October 15 to receive Williamson Act benefits for the following tax year if you wish to place your farm property into the AG Preserve. The Assessor's Office may require you to report data pertaining to your agriculture parcels via an AG Preserve Questionnaire.
Assessor FAQ No. 11 - How do I file a claim for refund of property taxes which were overpaid or illegally assessed? You can obtain the Claim for Refund Form from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors office which is located at the Administration Building, 2800 W. Burrel, Visalia CA 93291-4582 or call (559) 636-5000 to receive a form in the mail.
Assessor FAQ No. 12 - How do I file for a reduction in my taxes? Applications for Changed Assessment are the forms needed to file for a reduction in taxes and they may be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors office which is located at the Administration Building, 2800 W. Burrel, Visalia CA 93291-4582 or you can call (559) 636-5000 and request a form be mailed to you.
Assessor FAQ No. 13 - How do I talk to someone about a letter I received from the Assessor regarding a supplemental assessment? You will need to speak with the Assessor's Office to discuss the supplemental assessment that you received in the mail. The Assessor's Office is located at 221 South Mooney Boulevard, Courthouse, Room 102-E, Visalia CA 93291 or call (559) 636-5100.
Assessor FAQ No. 14 - If I legally subdivide my property into two or more new lots, will my property be reassessed and my property taxes increase ?
The mere act of subdividing your property into two or more new lots alone will not cause the property to be reassessed. However, if alterations or improvements are made to the property as a part of the subdivision process, such as adding or ugrading roads, creating future building pads, erecting block walls and so on, then those acts may qualify as "new construction" and could cause the property taxes to increase. Also, in some cases, if a land survey is performed as part of the subdivision process which discloses that your property boundaries encompass significantly more (or less) land than was previously assessed to you, then your property taxes could increase (or decrease) based on the new land survey information.
Assessor FAQ No. 15 - A) I previously legally split my property into several new lots and then sold some of them. Why am I still receiving a tax bill for the entire property ? ; and/or B) I recently purchased a lot in a relatively new subdivision. Why have I not yet received my own separate property tax bill ?
Each year, land owners who subdivide, then sell off portions of their property cumulatively create literally thousands of new lots. Each new lot must be given a new, separate, unique assessment parcel number ("APN"), then valued for property tax purposes by the Assessor's staff. This is a considerable task that must be done accurately and in strict accordance with California's complex statuatory scheme of property assessment and taxation laws and procedures. As soon as possible, however, separate APNs will be created, valued and then tax bills mailed to the new owners.
Assessor FAQ No. 16 - I recently applied for a loan on a new subdivision lot that I purchased, but the lender tells me that I must supply them with the new Assessor's Parcel Number ("APN") covering my specific lot before they can process my loan application. How do I get the new APN ?
Although it would certainly be convenient for your lender to have the new APN covering just your lot, it is our understanding that it is not required by law in order for your lender to complete the loan. Most lenders merely temporarily use the existing APN covering the larger property out of which your new lot was created, until a new APN for your lot is issued by the Assessor. For example, if the larger property was covered by APN 123-400-006-000, then most lenders would simply refer to your lot as "Portion of APN 123-400-006-000". The most important identification of your lot is its "legal description", which is shown on your deed to the property, and which must be used by them to describe the lot subject to the loan. See also the answer to FAQ No. 15 above.
Assessor FAQ No. 17 - Why is the acreage shown for my parcel on the Assessor's Map different from the acreage my surveyor and/or realtor say I actually own ?
The areage shown for each parcel on the Assessor's Map is the "net" acreage of that parcel. A parcel's "net" acreage is defined for local property assessment and taxation purposes as the total (or "gross") acreage owned, minus any part of the parcel that is subject to a "public way". A "public way" is defined for local property assessment and taxation purposes as any public street, road, avenue, drive, sidewalk, alley, jogging or bicycle path or other area maintained for public travel. The acreage is only shown on the Assessor's Map for parcels containing one (1) "net" acre or more. If you have your property surveyed by a licensed land surveyor or registered civil engineer, then ask them to provide a copy to the Assessor. The new land survey data will be reviewed and used to update our assessment maps and records.
Assessor FAQ No. 18 - The new owners of the property next to mine say that the fence between our two properties is in the wrong location and must be moved. Can you help me ?
The Assessor/Clerk-Recorder has no authority to and cannot: A) Give anyone legal advise; B) Determine the actual ground location of any property boundaries or corner marks of a parcel; or C) Prepare deeds or read/write land descriptions for property owners. Property line disputes are private civil matters that can only be settled by the affected property owners, and their land surveyors, attorneys and, if necessary, ultimately a court of law. However, if, and when, the location of any parcel's boundary lines are legally established, then, if notified, the Assessor will review the information and update all affected assessment maps and records accordingly.
Assessor FAQ No. 19 - How can I be assigned, confirm or verify the official site address for a building or building site on a given assessment parcel number ("APN") ?
The "official" address for a building or building site can only be issued, confirmed or verified by the City's or County's Building, Community Development or Planning Department; depending on whether it is located in a city or the unincorporated area of the county.
Assessor FAQ No. 20 - A) I own two or more adjacent subdivided lots each covered by a separate assessment parcel number ("APN") and received two or more tax bills. How can I receive just one overall tax bill covering all of the lots; or B) I receive just one tax bill on several adjacent subdivided lots that I own all covered by one APN. How can I get separate APNs and tax bills ?
A) if the City's or County's Building, Community Development or Planning Department confirms, in writing, that the lots cannot be developed, financed, leased or sold separately, then the Assessor's staff can combine them into one APN, resulting in one tax bill; B) If the City's or County's Building, Community Development or Planning Department confirms, in writing, that each of the lots can be developed, financed, leased or sold separately, then the Assessor's staff can assign separate APNs to each lot, resulting in separate tax bills for each lot.
Assessor FAQ No. 21 - If an overall area of land has been drawn and numbered as two or more separate assessorís parcels on the assessorís maps, does that fact alone mean that those separate assessorís parcels can each be separately transferred, sold, leased, financed or developed ?
No. Depending on where the land is located, the cityís or countyís building, planning and/or community development department has primary authority to determine if any specific area of land can be separately transferred, sold, leased, financed or developed.Assessorís maps, assessorís parcels and the information shown thereon, are created and maintained for local property assessment and taxation purposes only.And, as such, may not conform to state and local land division and development laws.No liability is assumed by the Assessor for the use of such maps, parcels and information shown thereon for any other purposes whatsoever.