How to estimate property taxes in LA county??

23 Replies

Hi BP! So I’ve tried several avenues already and I’m actually shocked I haven’t been able to find this info anywhere yet, so I’m turning to the trusty BP community.  (Disclaimer: I’m not asking for tax advice, just for someone to point me to an official source.  Hopefully from LA county or city websites)

Does anybody know how to estimate (calculate) what my tax bill will be for a particular property that I’m looking at making an offer on in LA county? How do you estimate/account for taxes in your deals in LA county or is there a common way to do it?

So far I’ve:

  • 1) Looked a prior tax history for the property.  However, because of Prop 13 the seller’s tax basis could be MUCH lower than the sale price and my taxes would jump up when the property was sold and the tax basis was reassessed so I’m not sure how much the tax history tells me.   
  • 2) Looked all over the Assessor’s website for a property tax calculator and come up empty.  Other counties (outside of CA) have online calculators where you can input the address, if it’s a primary residence, the new sale value, etc and it’ll tell you almost exactly what tax bill to expect.
  • 3) Asked my friend who recently bought a condo here in the south bay.  He told me he honestly didn’t know exactly what his property tax bill would be before making the offer and closing and he didn't know how to estimate it either.
  • 4) Asked a real estate agent who I recently started talking to.  She’s been in the business for 10 years but didn’t know either and also didn’t know of anywhere I could find that info.  She did tell me that it varies between cities in LA county and off the top of her head, told me to estimate 1.5% of the purchase price.

I saw on forums/online somewhere a while ago that 1.25% is a good ballpark but I’d really rather have a more official source.  A $2k difference in yearly taxes (the difference between 1.25% vs 1.5% on a $800k property) would have a significant effect on my cash flow that I’d like to understand when I’m running numbers on potential deals. 

Thanks for your help or any sources you can point me to!

IThis made me curious as well as just today I drove by a property I am interested in and just am about to underwrite it. I figured this out in 10 minutes of google searching:

\Step one: Find out the Tax Rate Area number. Do this by going to https://portal.assessor.lacoun... and look up the address

Step two: input the tax rate area number in here https://auditor.lacounty.gov/t... and that will give you your tax rate 

Step three: Don't forget the supplemental tax bill

If anyone can verify my findings are correct and there is nothing else (are there any special assessments in LA county..?) we would appreciate it! 

Oh, you can also just ask your friend to look at his bill, the rate should be on there. At the very least you can cross check what his tax rate area states online, vs what he actually gets billed. 

Originally posted by @Henry Murray :

Hi BP! So I’ve tried several avenues already and I’m actually shocked I haven’t been able to find this info anywhere yet, so I’m turning to the trusty BP community.  (Disclaimer: I’m not asking for tax advice, just for someone to point me to an official source.  Hopefully from LA county or city websites)

Does anybody know how to estimate (calculate) what my tax bill will be for a particular property that I’m looking at making an offer on in LA county? How do you estimate/account for taxes in your deals in LA county or is there a common way to do it?

So far I’ve:

  • 1) Looked a prior tax history for the property.  However, because of Prop 13 the seller’s tax basis could be MUCH lower than the sale price and my taxes would jump up when the property was sold and the tax basis was reassessed so I’m not sure how much the tax history tells me.   
  • 2) Looked all over the Assessor’s website for a property tax calculator and come up empty.  Other counties (outside of CA) have online calculators where you can input the address, if it’s a primary residence, the new sale value, etc and it’ll tell you almost exactly what tax bill to expect.
  • 3) Asked my friend who recently bought a condo here in the south bay.  He told me he honestly didn’t know exactly what his property tax bill would be before making the offer and closing and he didn't know how to estimate it either.
  • 4) Asked a real estate agent who I recently started talking to.  She’s been in the business for 10 years but didn’t know either and also didn’t know of anywhere I could find that info.  She did tell me that it varies between cities in LA county and off the top of her head, told me to estimate 1.5% of the purchase price.

I saw on forums/online somewhere a while ago that 1.25% is a good ballpark but I’d really rather have a more official source.  A $2k difference in yearly taxes (the difference between 1.25% vs 1.5% on a $800k property) would have a significant effect on my cash flow that I’d like to understand when I’m running numbers on potential deals. 

Thanks for your help or any sources you can point me to!

 I would look up closed sales in past 30 days and pull those tax bills.  This will give a great estimate on what taxes are in each city.  Most cities in LA county are around 1% but many cities have higher taxes.  For example, I believe Compton is 1.6%.

But pulling newer sales and doing the math from sales price to tax amount is a for sure thing.


You can also contact escrow officers as they have a great pulse on tax rates since they see tax bills all the time.


I hope this helps and have a good one.

Looking up current or prior tax history for the property is not useful - as you say the current owner's basis is generally not related to yours.  For this reason looking at the Assessor's website is also not helpful.

For LA and OC I generally use 1.1% of the purchase price per year for modeling. I agree with Shaun's estimates (1-1.6%), but 1.1% has been a great estimate to date.  When you close a deal the Assessor's office will reassess taxes, and I believe their default treatment is to adjust the basis to the purchase price.  

If I'm really deep into analysis of a deal I ask Escrow and they look it up, though I'm not exactly sure how.  I think your friend who bought a condo is way off - before you close Escrow will definitely provide a estimate of your tax bill.  Keep in mind that many people (esp for SFRs) impound taxes and insurance into their payment, so Escrow would need to have a solid estimate of taxes in order to help set this up.  It is also a critical input into the lender's underwriting (ie. they will make sure you can afford the mortgage, insurance AND future property taxes!).

@Peter Eberhardt

Awesome!! I think that's exactly the right way to do it and exactly what I was looking for! I swear I'd googled this too before I posed the question and didn't find anything more informative haha, so I appreciate you sharing what you found!  The tax rate area number lookup is similar to what I'd found in South Carolina when I was really looking into this last.  

So to confirm my understanding then, the Supplemental Tax bill is basically just the difference between the assessed value of the prior owner and my new assessed value (ie my purchase price) * the tax rate I looked up on the auditor's website * a pro-rating based on when I bought the property during the year, right?

From reading about it a little bit online it looks like supplemental tax bills were introduced in 1983 when California decided that changes in taxes due to changes in assessed value must be paid on the first date of the next month after a reassessment event (ie a property sale) instead of on the next annual tax bill.  So I think my understanding ^ is pretty accurate.  Link for anyone who's interested: https://assessor.saccounty.net...

@Madison Santerre I took a look around that website and wasn't able to find anything with a tax estimator, can you point me to where on their website the estimator is?

Although I think Peter might have pretty muchsolved my problem haha

@Henry Murray

Supplemental tax bill is one thing, special assessments are another. Any property you buy (at least in CA) you will get a one time supplemental tax bill as you have already found out.

Special assessments vary county to county and street to street. In Kern county for example, I’ve seen anywhere from $6k-$10 a year so, you can severely over estimate a potential cash flow if you don’t find the real tax bill you’ll be getting

I always use 1.25% when I am looking at properties to purchase and the property taxes you are already paying increase by 1% every year. So, if your property taxes are $8,000 this year then next year's bill will be about $8080.00. I think!!! That is what I use.

@Peter Eberhardt Good point, thank you!  I haven't heard anyone talking about special assessments in the reading I've done so far about LA country so I don't know anything about them here but I should look into that more. How have you been accounting for that in Kern count so far? Are they consistent year to year so you'd see it as part of the prior year's tax bill for the property you're looking at (if you're able to pull that info)? 

@Madison Santerre Ah thank you, found it now! For some reason I'd been having trouble getting the website that takes me to to work but I'd found the LA county Supplemental tax estimator via another method too.
I was really looking for the full tax bill that I'd be on the hook for after the property value is reassessed due to the sale.  If you're looking at property in LA just a heads up that the supplemental tax bill won't be ALL the property tax that you owe each year going forward.  From my reading recently it's just the difference between what the prior owner was paying and what you've got to pay based on the newly assessed value, for the remainder of that year only.  But it will have to come out of pocket all at once so definitely not something to ignore.  

Originally posted by @Jack Orthman :

I always use 1.25% when I am looking at properties to purchase and the property taxes you are already paying increase by 1% every year. So, if your property taxes are $8,000 this year then next year's bill will be about $8080.00. I think!!! That is what I use.

I think the property tax bill would increase by about 2%/year right?  The assessed value is capped at rising at only 2%/year 
due to prop 13 (unless there was a reassessment event) and the tax rate is constant (hopefully) so that'd be the same % increase.  Relatively small numbers compared to the total bill but if you're projecting out a few years the difference might add up to be significant.   

Attached, are two property tax bills for a 11-unit property I purchase in about 2015. I paid something like $1,250,000 for the property and the bottom of the tax bill states the assessed value is $485,882 plus $845.012 = $1,330,000 for the current assessed value. As I stated, the tax people add 1% to the assessed value every year and if you go back to  2015 and reduce the assessed value by 1% every year you will probably come out with the $1,250,000 value that I paid for the property.

You can see on the top of the bill that the tax rate is only 1%, but when you add in the percent for the other 3 charges you come out with a tax rate of about 1.25% and then the tax people increase the amount you actually pay, or they increase the assessed value (either way) by 1% every year.

If you look at the tax bill for 2018 the amount I had to pay was $17,827.32.00. If you look at this property tax bill for 2017, the amount I had to pay was $17.639.04. The percent increase betwen 2017 and 2018 is = 1% or $17.639.04 X 1% = $176,39 increase.

And...I want to say that I've been paying attention to the 1.25% tax charge and 1% annual increase for very many years and those are the numbers my broker friends use who know the math very well, but it is possible that the tax rate varies a little in different parts of Los Angeles County, but I own properties in several cities and the 1.25% and 1% has always applies in every city I own property in.

@Jack Orthman Thanks very much for sharing your property tax bills as an example! That's really interesting, and not how I expected it to work, so looks like I learned something valuable here. It does come out to about a 1% increase. Sounds like it works this way pretty consistently if you and your friends who are brokers have all observed this for years and years and in a variety of cities too.  Thanks for the explanation! 

The increase in property taxes is seriously depressing and it actually bothers me because in something like 60 years, or maybe 50 years because many years ago I did a calculation and came up with 60 years, but I did not include the math for the 1% annual increase.

So, what is depressing is in 60 (or maybe 50) a person pays the same for property tax as they paid for the property.

I just printed an amortization chart and when interest rates were 6% and you purchased a $500,000 property with a 30-year loan you paid the bank a total of $1,079,192 to pay off the house.

So, what a person purchase a house for $500,000 they pay the purchase price three times, plus property taxes, insurance, remodels, repairs, roof, plumbing, lawn care and the list goes on and on.