Delinquent Taxes…A Cause for Redemption
This page explains what happens when property taxes are left unpaid, outlines the penalties and fees associated with delinquent taxes, and describes an installment plan to redeem property which is in tax default.
You will see two terms on this page, which may be unfamiliar to you. When referring to delinquent taxes, redemption means the payment of delinquent taxes on a property. Therefore, when you pay these delinquent taxes, you are redeeming the property.
What will happen if I fail to pay my property taxes on time?
If you do not pay the first installment of your annual tax bill at the County Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on December 10th*, or payment is not postmarked by that date, a 10% delinquent penalty is added to the unpaid balance. If you fail to pay the second installment at the County Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on April 10th*, or payment is not postmarked by that date, a 10% penalty plus a cost of $20.00 is added to the unpaid balance. If you receive a supplemental tax bill, the delinquency dates may differ from your annual tax bill. The same penalties accrue on each installment as described above.
If there are ANY unpaid secured taxes as of 5 p.m. on June 30th*, the property becomes TAX DEFAULTED. Once the property has become tax defaulted, a redemption fee of $15.00 is added, and interest charges begin to accrue on the original unpaid balance at the rate of 1.5% per month. This monthly interest is added at after the close of business 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 10th, April 10th or June 30th falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.
What happens if I fail to pay my delinquent taxes?
Your taxes can remain unpaid for a maximum of five years following tax default, at which time your property becomes subject to the County Tax Collector's Power to Sell. Your property can be sold at a public auction, or to a public agency, if you do not pay the taxes before the date on which the property is offered for sale or acquisition.
What is the amount required to redeem tax defaulted property?
The amount to redeem tax defaulted property in full is the sum of the following:
1. The total amount of unpaid taxes for all delinquent years.
2. A 10% penalty on each unpaid installment.
3. A $20.00 cost on each unpaid second installment.
4. A redemption fee of $15.00.
5. Monthly interest charges at a rate of 1.5% on the unpaid tax amount.
6. Additional costs, added after five years.
How do I obtain the amount required to redeem my property?
Contact the Santa Cruz County Tax Collector's Office at (831) 454-2510. You must provide the Assessor's parcel number, the address of the property, or an assessee name. In addition, specify the month in which you plan to redeem your property.
Can I redeem one delinquent year separately from other years?
The total taxes owed for all delinquent years are combined together in redemption. One year's delinquent taxes cannot be redeemed separately.
What happens if I cannot pay the full redemption amount?
Prior to the fifth year after the property originally became tax defaulted, you may begin an installment plan. This plan allows you to make payments on your delinquent taxes over a five year period.
When may I begin an installment plan?
You must begin your installment plan within five years from the date the property became tax defaulted. After five years, your property is subject to the County Tax Collector's Power to Sell and you are no longer eligible for an installment plan.
To begin an installment plan, or for additional information, please contact the County Tax Collector's Office at (831) 454-2510 or E-mail
How do I begin an installment plan of redemption?
To begin an installment plan you must:
1. Make an initial payment of at least 20% of the redemption amount;
2. Pay an installment plan fee; and
3. Pay your current year's taxes as indicated below.
If you begin an installment plan between July 1st and the following April 10th, the current year's taxes and any supplemental taxes must be paid by April 10th or the installment plan will default. To begin an installment plan between April 11th and June 30th, the current year's taxes and any supplemental taxes which become delinquent during the current fiscal year, plus any applicable penalties and costs, must first be paid in full. Your property will not become subject to the County Tax Collector's Power to Sell if all taxes are kept current, including your yearly redemption installment plan payment.
How often will I be required to make installment plan payments?
You are required to make one payment each fiscal year for five years, in addition to your annual taxes and any supplemental tax. By April 10th of each year, you must make one payment of 20% or more of the redemption amount, plus interest charges (which accrue at the rate of 1.5% per month on the unpaid balance). If you fail to pay your redemption installment payment, your current year's taxes or any supplemental taxes on or before April 10th of each year, your installment plan will default. The penalty will be recalculated as if no previous payments had been made. Previous payments will then be credited.
You may pay the total unpaid balance plus accrued interest charges any time before the fifth and final payment is due.
Does my installment plan payment cover my current taxes?
Your installment payment NEVER includes your annual or supplemental tax bill. These must be paid separately.
If my first installment plan defaults, may I begin a second installment plan?
If your first installment plan defaults because of your failure to make at least one installment payment between July 1st and April 10th, or your failure to pay your current year's taxes or supplemental taxes in full by April 10th, you may begin another installment plan. The second installment plan may not be started until July 1st of the following fiscal year. A defaulted installment plan may not be reinstated in or after the fifth year of tax default.
When you begin an installment plan, you have five years to pay the full redemption amount. It is to your advantage not to default on an installment plan, as there are additional penalties. When an installment plan is reinstated, the installment plan payments are recalculated as though no previous payments had been made.
To receive additional information on property taxes, supplemental taxes, or mobilehome taxes, please write to the Santa Cruz County Tax Collector, P.O. Box 5639 Santa Cruz, CA 95063.