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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Published on: 8/19/2013 4:37 PM
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All Request for Change of Address are handled by the Santa Clara County Assessor's Office.

If you wish your Tax Bills and Assessor/Tax Collector correspondence to be mailed to an address other than the property address, you must fill out a Request for Change of Address.
The Request for Change of Address form is mailed together with your annual Tax Bill.
 
An on-line copy of the Request for Change of Address form can be accessed through the Assessor's Office web site. Please note that by navigating to the link, you will be leaving the Tax Collector's Office site and going to the Assessor's Office site. Please  click here for the Assessor's Office Request for Change of Address. 
​Any unpaid current secured property taxes as of 5:00 p.m. June 30 will be enrolled on the Defaulted Master Tax File. A $30.00 redemption fee is immediately added and the delinquent bill accrues penalties of 1.5% per month until paid. These tax bills are also referred to as "prior year secured taxes" or "redemptions.
 
The secured property tax bill is payable in two installments: The first installment is due and payable on November 1. However, you have until 5 p.m. on December 10 to make your payment before a 10% penalty and $20.00 cost is added to your bill. The second installment is due and payable on February 1. The grace period on the second installment expires at 5 p.m. on April 10. If the installment remains unpaid as of April 10, a 10% penalty and $20.00 cost is imposed.
 
On-line payments can be made at payments.scctax.org prior to midnight Pacific Time on the respective delinquent dates.
  

The Tax Collector's Office provides a web site, where Credit Card and e-check payments can be made. Credit Cards accepted are: Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover.

Please note that additional credit card processing fees will be charged in addition to your payment.

The County of Santa Clara uses Official Payments Corporation to
process credit card and e-check payments.
 
Since the County is by law not allowed to collect less than the actual tax amount, any fees for processing this credit card payment must be paid by you.
 
To pay your tax bill by credit card, please go to the following web site: http://payments.scctax.org/payment/jsp/startup.jsp

​There are two programs administered by the state that may assist you:

Property Tax Assistance for Senior Citizens or Blind or Disabled Persons
 
All funding for the Homeowner and Renter Assistance has been exhausted. The Franchise Tax Board no longer processes correspondence or pays any claims.
 
Property Tax Postponement for Senior Citizens or Blind or Disabled Persons
 
On February 20, 2009, the Governor signed Senate Bill X3 8 (Chapter 4, Statutes of 2009), which suspended the Senior Citizens' Property Tax Deferral Program indefinitely. This legislation prohibits the filing of claims for Property Tax Postponement (PTP). As a result of the program suspension, the Controller no longer accepts claims for PTP.
 
For more information, please call (800) 952-5661 or go to: http://www.sco.ca.gov/ardtax_prop_tax_postponement.html
  
Pursuant to the Revenue and Taxation Code Section 2610.5, failure to receive a tax bill does not excuse penalties.
  
​The term "secured" simply means taxes that are assessed against real property (e.g., land or structures). The tax is a lien that is "secured" by the land/structure even though no document was officially recorded. This means that if the taxes remain unpaid after a period of five (5) years, the property may be sold to cover the taxes owed.
  
​The County Assessor establishes the value of property on January 1. This date is often referred to as the Tax Lien date. The secured property tax bill, issued months later, uses the value established on the Tax Lien date.
  
​In order for the amount of your taxes to be determined, the County Assessor must first assess the value of your property as of January 1. Generally, the assessed value is the cash or market value at the time of purchase. This value increases not more than 2% per year until the property is sold or any new construction is completed, at which time it must be reassessed. For more information on how the assessed value is determined, see the County Assessor's website. After the Assessor has determined the property value, the County Controller applies the appropriate tax rates, which include the general tax levy, voter approved special taxes, and any city or district direct assessments. The general tax levy is determined in accordance with State Law and is limited to 1% assessed value of your property. After applying tax rates, the County Controller calculates the total tax amount. Finally, the Tax Collector prepares property tax bills based on the County Controller's calculations, distributes the bills, and then collects the taxes. Neither the County Board of Supervisors nor the Tax Collector determines the amount of taxes.
  
​A secured tax bill covers a fiscal year. The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year.
 
​Annual tax bills are mailed once a year no later than November 1, and can be paid in two installments. Every effort is made to get a copy of the tax bill to each new property owner. To avoid penalties, you should check the status of your property taxes and/or request a duplicate bill by calling our office. Our Interactive Voice Response System allows you to obtain information from the computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Don't wait until it's too late and you are required to pay penalties.) If you did not receive a bill, or if you recently purchased a property, you may obtain a duplicate tax bill by calling (408) 808-7900 or visiting our office.
  
​The annual tax bill identifies the following: The owner of record as of the legal lien date. The property location, when available. The assessed value of the property. The amount and type of exemption, if applicable. The amount of taxes due on the first and second installments, as well as the total of taxes due. A breakdown of the types of taxes being collected, including the general tax levy (the constitutional 1% levy), locally voted special taxes, and city or district special assessments. If your bill bears the statement "Prior Years Taxes Unpaid," this is an indication that there are delinquent taxes from prior years, which are not included in your bill. Please call (408) 808-7900 for more information.
​You can mail your payment, but in order to avoid the delinquent penalty, your payment envelope must possess a United States Postal Service postmark on or before the tax delinquent date. Remember, the delinquent dates are as follows: First installment delinquent at 5 p.m., December 10. Second installment delinquent at 5 p.m., April 10. If the delinquent date falls on a weekend or holiday, the penalty is not imposed until 5 p.m. on the next business day.
  
​No. California law requires the Tax Collector to accept the U.S. postmark, not a private meter date, as the date of payment.
  
Placing the envelope in the post office box does not guarantee that the mail will be processed the same day/evening. State law requires that a payment be treated as if it had been received on the date shown by the post office cancellation mark on the envelope. Only U.S. Postal Service postmarks will be accepted. To avoid penalties, ask to have the envelope hand canceled by the post office. Metered mail is not accepted as a valid cancellation.
  
​No, California law does not permit the Tax Collector to accept partial payments on current year taxes.
  
Please contact your new lender for this information. If you are not sure, we recommend that you pay the property taxes yourself. Duplicate payments will be refunded to the last person to pay.
  

​The Tax Collector's Office provides a web site, where Credit Card and e-check payments can be made. Credit Cards accepted are: Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover.

Please note that additional credit card processing fees will be charged in addition to your payment.

The County of Santa Clara uses Official Payments Corporation to process credit card and e-check payments.
 
Since the County is by law not allowed to collect less than the actual tax amount, any fees for processing this credit card payment must be paid by you.
 
To pay your tax bill by credit card, please go to the following web site: http://payments.scctax.org/payment/jsp/startup.jsp
  
​You may receive more than one supplemental tax bill, depending on when you purchased your property or completed new construction. Because the secured property taxes are based on the January 1 value and cover a fiscal year, your purchase/construction date may effect the calculation of the taxes for two (2) fiscal years. For example, if you purchased property in February 2003, your purchase would effect the 2002/2003 fiscal year taxes (February 2003 through June 2003) and the 2003/2004 fiscal year taxes (July 2003 through June 2004). The latter fiscal year is effected because the value would have already been established by the County Assessor on January 1, 2003, prior to the purchase/construction. Therefore, the taxes calculated for 2003/2004 would also have to be adjusted by a supplemental bill to reflect the increased value.
 
​"Supplemental" taxes are additional secured taxes that are due when property undergoes a change in ownership or new construction. The additional tax is owed because the County Assessor is required to immediately adjust the January 1 value to reflect the new value of the property (see Secured Tax definition). Adjusted for the number of months left in the fiscal year, the supplemental tax bill represents the tax due on the difference between the old and new values.
  
​The difference between the new value and the old January 1 value is multiplied by a proration factor. The proration factor is the percentage of months remaining in the fiscal year. This result is then multiplied by the tax rate (usually 1% plus voter approved indebtedness) to determine the supplemental tax amount due.
  
​The supplemental tax bill provides the following information:
  • The owner.
  • The fiscal year for which the taxes are assessed.
  • The location of the property.
  • The old and the new assessed value and the difference (net supplemental assessment) upon which the tax is computed.
  • The type and amount of exemptions (e.g., homeowner's).
  • The total of taxes due based on the net increase in value.
  • The date of the ownership change or completion of new construction. This date is used to prorate the tax for the period remaining in the current fiscal year for which the bill is issued.

The bill may be paid in two installments and provides payment stubs for each installment, which show the amount due and the date that the amount must be paid to avoid penalties for late payment.
  

​If you purchase and then sell property within a short period of time, the supplemental tax bill you receive should cover only those months during which you owned the property, and the new owner should receive a separate supplemental tax bill. Because of the large number of parcels and frequency of property changing hands in Santa Clara County, there are often delays in placing new assessments on the tax roll. Be sure to check the dates used to prorate the bill to ensure that the period covered is the period during which you actually owned the property. If you receive an incorrect tax bill, visit the County Assessor’s website or call our office at (408) 808 - 7900.
  
​Yes. The supplemental tax bill is sent in addition to the annual tax bill and both must be paid as specified on the bill. For information on the annual tax bill, see our information about Secured Property Taxes.
  
​The supplemental tax is due upon the mailing of the bill. It is payable in two installments.
  
​The supplemental tax bill is payable in two installments, like the secured bill. The delinquent dates of the installments depend on when the bill is mailed. A supplemental tax bill mailed between July and October carries a first installment delinquent date of December 10 and a second installment delinquent date of April 10. Supplemental bills mailed between November and June carry a delinquent date based on the month in which the bill was mailed—the first installment is delinquent the last day of the following month in which the bill was mailed. The second installment is delinquent four (4) months later. For example, if a supplemental tax bill is mailed in February, the first installment delinquent date would be March 31 and the second installment delinquent date would be July 31.
 
​No. Unlike the annual tax bill, lending agencies do not receive a copy of the supplemental tax bill. When you receive a supplemental tax bill, you must contact your lender to determine who will pay the bill. Furthermore, if the tax payment is not made before the delinquency date due to a misunderstanding between yourself and your lender, the penalties cannot be excused. State law stipulates that this is not an acceptable reason for excusing penalties.
 
Most supplemental bills are mailed within nine (9) months after a change in ownership or new construction. You should receive a Notification of Supplemental Assessment approximately sixty (60) days before the bill is mailed.
 
To avoid penalties, you should check the status of your property taxes and/or request a duplicate bill by contacting our office. Do not wait until it is too late as penalties will be added.
Our contact information is located at www.scctax.org.
​Yes. If your payment is not received or postmarked by the delinquent dates, the penalty amounts are the same as secured taxes: First installment penalty = 10% of the first installment amount plus $20.00 cost. Second installment penalty = 10% of the second installment amount, plus $20 cost.
  
​Most supplemental bills are mailed within nine (9) months after a change in ownership or new construction. You should receive a Notification of Supplemental Assessment approximately sixty (60) days before the bill is mailed.
  
​When you mail your payment, your payment envelope must possess a United States Postal Service postmark on or before the tax delinquent date in order to avoid the delinquent penalties.
  
​No. California law requires the Tax Collector to accept the U.S. postmark, not a private meter date, as the date of payment.
  
​If you own a home and occupy it as your principal place of residence as of January 1, you may apply for an exemption of $7,000 of your assessed value. New property owners should automatically receive an exemption application in the mail. A Homeowners' Exemption also may apply to a supplemental assessment if the property was not previously receiving a Homeowners' Exemption on the regular Assessment Roll.
  
​To be eligible for a Veterans' Exemption, a veteran must have been a resident of California as of January 1. Also, a single veteran or a non-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran must not have assets valued at more than $5,000. A married veteran must not have assets valued at more than $10,000.
 
Santa Clara County residents who own and occupy their single family home, condominium or town home, are 65 years of age or older, and have a total household income less than 75% of the state median income are eligible to receive an exemption from the water district's special tax. Call (408) 265-2607 ext. 2810.
 
For more information on these and other exemptions, go to the County Assessor’s Office website.
  
The Tax Collector's Office provides a web site, where Credit Card and e-check payments can be made. Credit Cards accepted are: Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover.
Please note that additional credit card processing fees will be charged in addition to your payment.
 
The County of Santa Clara uses Official Payments Corporation to process credit card and e-check payments.
 
Since the County is by law not allowed to collect less than the actual tax amount, any fees for processing this credit card payment must be paid by you.
 
To pay your tax bill by credit card, please go to the following web site: http://payments.scctax.org/payment/jsp/startup.jsp
Yes. If your payment is not received or postmarked by the delinquent date, a 10% penalty and a $50.00 collection fee is added to your bill. If your bill remains unpaid for two additional months, a monthly penalty of 1½% begins to accrue. In addition, if a Certificate of Tax Lien is recorded, an additional fee of $11 will be required to release the lien.
  
May I pay taxes on the estimated worth of my business property while I work with the Assessor to correct the over-assessment?
 
No. The Revenue and Taxation Code requires you to pay the full amount of the current tax bill. You will receive a refund with interest (if interest is greater than $10.00) upon a correction issued by the County Assessor's office.
  
​The term "unsecured" simply refers to property that can be relocated and is not real estate. The tax is assessed against such things as business equipment, fixtures, boats and airplanes. If the unsecured tax is not paid, a personal lien is filed against the owner, not the property.
  
​The County Assessor establishes the value of the unsecured property on January 1. This date is often referred to as the Tax Lien date.
  
​The January 1 value is multiplied by the tax rate (usually 1% plus voter approved indebtedness). The unsecured tax rate is the prior year's secured rate.
  
​An unsecured tax bill covers a fiscal year. The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year.
  
​Yes. Disposal of the property after the January 1 lien date does not eliminate your tax liability. If you sell the property before the unsecured tax bill is issued, make sure you collect an estimated amount for the unsecured tax from the buyer.
  
​Most unsecured bills are mailed June 30. These bills must be paid on or before 5 p.m. on August 31. If the bill is mailed after July 31, the delinquent date is extended to the end of the month following the bill’s issuance. In other words, if your bill is mailed in September, the delinquent date would be October 31.
​You can mail your payment, but in order to avoid the delinquent penalties, your payment envelope must possess a United States Postal Service postmark on or before the tax delinquent date.
 
​No. California law requires the Tax Collector to accept the U.S. postmark, not a private meter date, as the date of payment.
 
​Yes. California law allows the Tax Collector to seize and sell the unsecured property or any other personal property owned by the assessee including bank accounts.
 
​The owner of personal property as of January 1st is responsible for the unsecured tax bill.  Disposal, removal, or sale of the property after the January 1st lien date will not affect the tax bill.  Taxes will not be prorated due to the sale or disposal of taxable personal property after the lien date.  Any proration of the tax is strictly a private matter between the seller and buyer.
​A lien is placed against the individual for delinquent unpaid taxes. In order to clear the delinquency, all taxes, costs, and penalties must be paid. Upon payment in full, the Tax Collector's office will prepare a "Release of Lien" and forward it to the payor.  The release must be recorder at the County Clerk-Recorder's office. This information is then obtained by the credit bureaus and they update their records to show that the lien has been satisfied. Taxpayers must be aware that neither the Tax Collector nor the County Clerk-Recorder forward cleared delinquencies to credit agencies.