June 20, 2024

California Property Tax

What is California Property Tax?

When it comes to owning property in California, one important aspect to understand is the property tax system. Property tax is a tax levied on real estate by the local government, which includes counties, cities, and special districts. It is a major source of revenue for funding public services such as schools, infrastructure, and public safety.

How is Property Tax Assessed in California?

In California, property tax is assessed based on the value of the property as of January 1st each year. The assessed value is determined by the county assessor’s office and is typically a percentage of the property’s market value. The tax rate is then applied to the assessed value to calculate the annual property tax bill.

Understanding Proposition 13

Proposition 13, passed by California voters in 1978, plays a significant role in the state’s property tax system. It limits the annual increase in assessed value to 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This means that even if the market value of a property increases significantly, the property taxes can only rise modestly.

Additional Assessments and Exemptions

Aside from the general property tax, there may be additional assessments for specific purposes, such as school bonds or special districts. Additionally, there are certain exemptions available for certain individuals, such as homeowners aged 65 or older or disabled veterans. These exemptions can help reduce the overall property tax liability.

Appealing Property Tax Assessments

If you believe that your property has been over-assessed and you are paying more than your fair share of property taxes, you have the right to appeal the assessment. The appeals process typically involves gathering evidence to support your case, such as recent comparable sales or assessments of similar properties in your area. It is advisable to consult with a tax professional or an attorney specializing in property tax appeals to navigate this process effectively.

Property Tax Payment and Due Dates

In California, property taxes are due in two installments. 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. It is essential to pay property taxes on time to avoid penalties and potential foreclosure on your property.


Understanding California property tax is crucial for homeowners and property owners in the state. By familiarizing yourself with the basics, including how property tax is assessed, the impact of Proposition 13, available exemptions, and the appeals process, you can ensure that you are paying your fair share while minimizing your tax liability. Remember to stay informed about payment due dates and seek professional advice if needed. California property tax is a significant financial obligation, but with proper knowledge and planning, you can navigate it successfully.