Are you confused or not sure when your San Diego County property taxes are due each year? You’re not alone as the different due dates and late fees and penalties confuse just about everyone.
Did you find out too late the fiscal year doesn’t start January 1 but actually on July 1 thus resulting in late fees and penalties — to then in a panic call the phone number looking to speak with someone right away only to get lost in listening to automated responses?
Here’s a quick rundown of our list:
- July 1 — Beginning of fiscal year.
- January 1 — Unsecured bills mailed out and is the lien date for unsecured taxes.
- August 31 — Unsecured deadline and a 10% penalty added.
- September — Treasurer — Tax Collector mails out original secured property tax bills.
- November 1 — First installment is due for Secured Property Tax and delinquent Unsecured account are charged additional penalties of 1.5% until paid.
- December 10 — First installment payment deadline — a 10% penalty is added to payments made after this date (If a delinquent date falls on a weekend or holiday the delinquent date is the next business day).
- February 1 — Second installment due of Secured Property Taxes.
- April 10 — Second installment payment deadline — a 10% penalty plus $10.00 cost is added to payments made after this date (If a delinquent date falls on a weekend or holiday the delinquent date is the next business day).
- May — Treasurer — Tax Collector mails delinquent notices for any unpaid and regular current taxes.
- June 30 — End of Fiscal Year.
- July 1 — Delinquent Secured amounts are transferred to delinquent tax roll and additional penalties added at 1–1.5% per month on any unpaid tax amounts — plus $33 redemption fee.
- A 10% penalty added after 5PM on December 10th
- A 10% penalty and $10.00 cost added after 5PM on April 10th
- After the end of the fiscal year (June 30), a $33.00 redemption fee and a 1–½% per month (18% per annum) penalty is added on the unpaid tax amount.
- If a “tax defaulted” notation appears on your tax bill, you may have unpaid taxes for prior years.
- Substantial savings in penalties can be achieved by paying any prior year back taxes or by initiating a five-year installment plan of redemption.
Keeping track of property taxes is the job of 3 departments: the County Assessor, the County Auditor, and the County Tax Collector. Each of these departments has a very specific job when it comes to taxes on all properties in the area.
The County Assessor: Determines what the tax values are on properties and makes the assessment roll.
The County Auditor: Figures out tax rates and calculates rolls and bills based on the taxable value of properties. They also distribute the money collected from property tax payments to the proper places.
The County Tax Collector: Responsible for mailing out bills and processing payments. They also keep up with all the accounts of the taxpayers in this category.
Each year tax values are decided on every piece of property in San Diego County. Once the value is set, bills are sent out to owners of the properties, so that they are able to pay them on time.
It is important to remember that as a California native, you have to be sure to pay every one of your tax bills. This also means you have to obtain all of them and pay them on time. If you find you are missing some or haven’t received certain bills, you can contact the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office for more information. Tax bills are often mailed in October. Not receiving a bill is not an excuse for not paying it.
You can pay your taxes by mail, online, or in person, so you have some options available when it comes to staying current on your property taxes. You also have the option of making 2 payments on the balance, as long as you pay the entire amount before the due dates.
It is important that you sign a Change in Ownership statement with the County Clerk shortly after you purchase a property. If you don’t, you may incur penalties on your taxes. Once you start receiving your property tax bills, you may also receive supplemental tax bills too. These are so you don’t end up paying the full amount on a property you didn’t own for a whole year.
If you own a property that is worth $100,000 in aggregate costs a year, you are required to sign a special statement from the County Assessor. It must be signed between Jan 1 and Apr 1 to be valid. If you don’t sign it during that time, you will receive a 10% penalty.
There are certain ways you may be eligible for a tax exemption on your property. To find out the requirement or to file for an exemption, you can check with the County Assessor for all the pertinent details.
Since the appraisals for property values and taxes changes each year, sometimes you may feel that the amount is unfair. If you feel that your property hasn’t been valued correctly, you can contact the County Assessor to see what can be done. You are able to file an appeal between July 2 and November 30. You can also visit the Assessor’s website to find out other information and requirements for filing an appeal of this type.
You should do what you can to make sure that you don’t have any delinquent taxes on a property you have just purchased, or one that you have owned or recently sold. It is best if you work out who pays the first tax payment ahead of time too, so there is less confusion.
Generally, when you have a new property, you will not always be alerted that it is time to pay your first property tax, since the first year is often pro-rated. You will need to know what you owe and when you should pay it. This will ensure that you don’t have to pay extra late fees.
You can check out your escrow papers to see how the tax bill was handled, and to be sure that it has been paid. If it hasn’t, it’s important that you remedy it within the due dates that are listed.
When you are looking at due dates, you have to make sure that a payment that you’ve sent in has a postmark of the date that it was due. This essentially means that it doesn’t have to be at the tax office on the day of the deadline, but it will have to have been mailed by that date.
To avoid any confusion, it’s better to not wait until the last minute to pay any of your bills. Just because you dropped something off at the post office at a certain time does not mean that it will be postmarked on that day, which is something you should keep in mind at all times.
Another thing to be aware of is that all packages are not postmarked. If your letter isn’t postmarked, the payment will be counted on the day that it is received by the tax collector. Again, this means it’s essential to plan ahead so you won’t owe any penalties for an easy to fix mistake.
There are a couple of types of long term payment plans available for those that owe a substantial amount of money in defaulted property taxes. Here are the basics on those plans.
Four-Year Escape Tax Bill Payment Plan
There are certain tax bills that may quality for a 4-year payment plan. However, there are specific qualifications you must meet.
- The Escape tax bill must be from a different fiscal year.
- You must owe more than $500,000 on the bill.
- You must fill out a form and send it back by the due date or April 10th, whichever date falls later on the calendar.
- You must pay 20% of the tax bill and all other tax bills that you have, no later than the written request deadline.
- There is a $26 set up fee for the 4 year plan that must be paid.
- Each subsequent year, you have to pay off another 20% of the balance, as well as a fee of $55 by April 10.
- If you pay any payments late or do not meet these requirements, you will be in default on your taxes and the plan will stop. Then all penalties will be due right away on all your property taxes.
The payment plan will automatically default:
- If you don’t pay each year’s tax bill of 20% of the balance
- If you don’t pay the yearly maintenance fee
- If you don’t pay the current year’s taxes by the due date
- If you don’t pay other tax bills on time
- and if a property under this type of tax bill changes ownership.
Five-Year Payment Plan
Anyone can pay taxes that are in default in installments. This can happen at any time, as long as it is before the last day before the 5th fiscal year is up on a defaulted property. You should also be sure that your property cannot be sold by the county too, so you can be certain that your payments will help you keep ownership of your property.
You can find more information on this type of payment plan on the Treasurer–Tax Collector’s website.
In order to qualify, there are special stipulations to follow:
- You have to fill out and return a 5 year payment plan document before a certain date.
- You must also pay all your current taxes and 20% or more of your past due taxes, as well as an $81 fee.
- Each subsequent year, you will need to pay at least 20% of the defaulted amount, all current taxes, and a $71 fee by April 10.
You must also be sure to pay all of the interest that has built up, and you can always opt to pay the amount in full before 5 years time if you want to. You don’t have to take the whole 5 years.
It is important to remember, If you default on a 5 year plan, you can’t start a new one immediately. You will have to wait until the next fiscal year to begin a new one.
What do you think?
Leave a comment below — or, call/text me at (760) 297–4539
Your Property Tax Insider,