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Disaster Relief

CZU Lightning Complex Fire

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

My home was damaged by a fire. What do I do? Where do I start?

If your property has been damaged by a calamity, you need to file an Application for Calamity Relief and/or Deferral of Regular Secured Taxes with the County Assessor. This will allow your current property taxes to be reduced for that portion of the property damaged or destroyed.

The Deferral of Regular Secured Taxes portion of the application includes a request to postpone the next installment of property taxes. Timely filed and approved applications for property tax deferral will allow postponement of the next property tax installment until the county assessor has reassessed the property and you receive a corrected tax bill.

To qualify for deferral, for property receiving a homeowners' exemption, "substantial disaster damage" means damage amounting to at least 10 percent of its fair market value or $10,000 whichever is less. For all other property, the damage must be at least 20 percent of value.

Tax deferral is not available where property taxes are paid through impound accounts.

After my property is rebuilt or repaired following the damage, will my property taxes be increased over what they were before?

No. Property owners will retain their previous factored base year value if the house is rebuilt in a like or similar manner, regardless of the actual cost of construction. However, any new square footage or extras, such as additional baths, will be added to the base year value at its full market value.

What is considered taxable property?

  • Land (such as land contour change due to flooding)
  • Structures (buildings, awnings, wells)
  • Trees (where separately assessed, such as orchards)
  • Personal Property – boats, airplanes, business property (such as desks, shelves, computers, farm equipment)
  • Manufactured Homes subject to local property tax

Non-taxable property not eligible for calamity relief includes:

  • Licensed vehicles (cars, trucks, boat trailers, etc.)
  • Household personal property
  • Licensed Mobile Homes
  • Crops
  • Business Inventory
  • Livestock used to produce food or fiber

Our home was damaged from a forest fire last September and we had to move out while it is being repaired. Are we still allowed the homeowner's exemption even though we have not returned to our house as of January 1?

Yes. Temporary absence from a dwelling for repairs made necessary by a natural disaster will not result in the loss of your homeowner's exemption as long as you have not established permanent housing elsewhere.

My house was not damaged or destroyed by the fire, but I believe the market value of my property is less now because of the fire damage in my area. Why didn't you adjust my value for the fire event?

Under section 170 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, only properties that suffered physical structural damage are eligible for calamity relief. The impact the fire calamity has on the overall market value of the property can only be addressed under Section 51 of the Revenue and Taxation code as of January 1, 2021. If you believe that your property has suffered a decline in market value due to the fire calamity, you may seek relief under Proposition 8 after January 1, 2021.

The fire burned my vacant lot. Why was my calamity claim denied?

Calamity relief can only be granted on vacant land if flooding or erosion destroys the land or taxable improvements to the land, such as contouring for agricultural properties. Standing timber is exempt from taxation, so the loss of native trees is not eligible for calamity relief. If you believe that your property has suffered a decline in market value due to the fire calamity, you may seek relief under Proposition 8 (Request for Decline in Value Review) after January 1, 2021.

Can I appeal the denial of my calamity claim?

Yes. Appeal applications must be filed with the Clerk of the Board within 6 months of the date of the notice of denial.

Transfer of Base Year Value

Because the Governor has made a disaster proclamation for the August 2020 fires, even more resources are available. Base year transfer within the same county under Revenue and Taxation Code Section 69. This section allows the value of a property substantially damaged or destroyed by a disaster, as declared by the Governor, to be transferred to comparable property within the same county, which is acquired or newly constructed within five years of the disaster, as a replacement for the substantially destroyed property, subject to certain requirements. Applications and instructions can be found at: BOE-65-P

Base year transfer to property located in a different county under Revenue and Taxation Code Section 69.3.This section allows the value of a property substantially damaged or destroyed by a disaster, as declared by the Governor, to be transferred to comparable property within a different county that has adopted an ordinance that allows such transfers. As of 1/16/2020 the following 13 counties are accepting intercounty transfers are: Contra Costa, Glenn, Los Angeles, Modoc, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Ventura, and Yuba. See “receiving” county’s website for application and instruction.

Base year transfer to property located in the same or different county under Revenue and Taxation Code Section 69.5. (Also known as a Prop 60/90). This section allows the value of a property substantially damaged or destroyed by a disaster, by a person who is disabled or over the age of 55, to be transferred to a property in the same county or in a different county that has adopted an ordinance allowing such transfer. Currently, the only counties that allow intercounty transfers are Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Tuolumne and Ventura. Certain requirements must be met. Application and instructions for transfers within Santa Cruz County: BOE-60-AH. Applications and instructions for transfers to another county can be found on the “receiving” county’s website.