Property taxes in California are governed by state law and are assessed and collected by county governments. Here’s how property taxes generally work in California:

Assessment of Property Value: Property taxes are based on the assessed value of the property. The assessed value is determined by the county assessor’s office. In California, property is reassessed when it is sold or undergoes new construction. Otherwise, the assessed value can increase by a maximum of 2% per year under Proposition 13, a voter-approved initiative passed in 1978.

Tax Rate: The property tax rate in California is a combination of various local rates, including rates for schools, cities, counties, and special districts. These rates are expressed in terms of “mills,” where one mill equals $1 of tax per $1,000 of assessed value. The total tax rate varies depending on the location of the property.

Calculation of Taxes: To calculate property taxes, the assessed value of the property is multiplied by the total tax rate applicable to that property. For example, if a property has an assessed value of $500,000 and the total tax rate is 1%, the property tax owed would be $5,000.

Payment Schedule: Property taxes in California are typically paid in two installments each year. The first installment is due on November 1st and becomes delinquent if not paid by December 10th. The second installment is due on February 1st and becomes delinquent if not paid by April 10th.

Exemptions and Deductions: California offers various exemptions and deductions that can reduce property taxes for certain property owners. For example, homeowners may qualify for a homeowner’s exemption, which reduces the assessed value of their primary residence by a fixed amount. Other exemptions may be available for disabled veterans, senior citizens, and certain low-income homeowners.

Tax Lien and Foreclosure: Failure to pay property taxes can result in a tax lien being placed on the property. If taxes remain unpaid, the county may sell the property at a tax foreclosure auction to recover the unpaid taxes.

Proposition 8: In addition to Proposition 13, which limits the annual increase in assessed value, Proposition 8 allows for a temporary reduction in assessed value when the market value of a property falls below its assessed value. This provision allows for property taxes to be temporarily lowered during periods of declining property values.

It’s essential for property owners in California to understand their property tax obligations and any available exemptions or deductions to ensure they are paying the correct amount of taxes.