Property taxes in California

4 Replies


Just received a property tax notice. Reading the notice front to back, I realized that I can apply for an exemption because I occupy the property (being my primary place of residence). 

Here is the problem I've been paying property taxes since 2008 only recently did I realized that I was exempt from paying property taxes. Long story short, I've been paying taxes on my property that I didn't have to. 

In 2012, because of the taxes I was forced to refinance (payed $3k to refinance), so that my property taxes would be included into my mortgage payment. This whole time I could've avoided all this mess by applying for a home owner exemption. 

I called all parties involved, my bank/lender (Wells Fargo), County Tax office and Assessor's office. I was told when I moved into my house that I should've received a letter that gave me the option to go exempt on my property taxes, if I occupied the property. 

The problem is when I called to apply in 2008 (when we moved in), the county told me that they couldn't asses the property yet, because the area was still under development. So no assessment could be made on my property until the county was ready. 

What are my options before I finally apply for a home owners exemption on my property taxes. Do I get a refund for the years of paying property taxes and forced to refinance and not given ample time to apply for an exemption? Do I have a case against the county?

Thanks BP 


@Jerry Moore The exemption is limited to $7,000 of the property's value per year. If your property's taxable value $200,000 it would reduce it to $193,000. At an estimate of 1.25% tax rate you are looking at about $87 per year.

You can file the exemption at any time, it just won't apply until the next assessment.

It's up to the County Assessor.  You should find out when your value was actually enrolled.  The county has 4 years to enroll.  They are governed by state law but have leeway to go back and make roll corrections.  Talk to the exemption department and contact the elected Assessor if you feel you are not getting good advice.  Most counties are not going to fight you over the small amount of the HO exemption.

And if you are going to be an investor you should educate yourself in Revenue and Taxation codes.  There are lots of benefits under Prop 13.

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It sounds like you might be confusing a reassessment with the home owner's exemption.  The exemption doesn't reduce your tax bill very much and wouldn't have caused you to refinance. Apply for exemption as you are entitled to it. If you feel the property value assessment is too high, ask for a reassessment.