Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes assessments and property values can be a complicated process. In the course of your dealings with the Assessors Office, you are bound to have some questions. Choose from the topics below to access questions dealing with that topic. If you wish to see all the questions, choose all questions.

Select a category:

Thomas Fire
expand | contract | back to top
"Now that my house is destroyed, will the same land value allocation be used to value the remaining land, or are you going to employ a different land appraisal methodology while the land remains unimproved? I ask, because, in my opinion, valuing my remain

Your land value allocation will remain unchanged. If you disagree with the allocation, please contact the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board and inquire about filing an Assessment Appeal Application form to appeal the land value allocation.

Can I rebuild with steel framing instead of wood framing? If I rebuild something larger, what will happen to the value of my property? If-when I rebuild my house, how will the Assessor's Office value it? Will my property taxes increase exponentially? Spec

The short answer is yes, you may rebuild with steel framing instead of wood. It is important to understand that if the rebuild quality is vastly superior to the previous structure, the additional value for the differences in quality classes will be added to the restored base year value.

Section 70 of the Revenue and Taxation code requires that the reconstructed property must be substantially equivalent to the property prior to the damage or destruction of the property. The reconstruction must be done timely (no exact timeframe given by the California State Board of Equalization (BOE)). Any reconstruction of real property, or portion thereof, that is not substantially equivalent to the damaged or destroyed property, shall be deemed new construction, and only that portion that exceeds substantially equivalent reconstruction shall have a new base year value.

The previous factored base year value will be restored if the structure is rebuilt in a like or similar manner. Any new square footage or extras, such as additional baths, will be added to the restored base year value at its full market value. If the quality of the rebuilt improvements is vastly superior to the previous improvements, the additional value for the difference in quality classes will be added to the restored base year value.

If you rebuild smaller improvements than what was destroyed or damaged in the fire, then a percentage of the improvement value will be restored.

Substantially equivalent is determined by appraiser judgment.

Can I track the status of my claim from reassessment and what is my annual responsibility to keep the Assessor informed of changes to the property?

You will be notified via USPS of the approval or denial of your claim. You will receive a questionnaire (form AO-V 684) next year that requests repair status, which you should complete and return by the deadline indicated in the questionnaire. You will continue to receive a questionnaire annually, until the repairs are completed pursuant to R&T Code Section 75.12.

Do I need to pay my outstanding bill? Do I need to pay the second installment of my regular bill?

Yes, tax bills should be paid in full before the delinquency date. If your property qualifies for disaster relief, the Assessor will reassess the property and reduce the values. The Auditor will prorate the secured tax bill and the Tax Collector will send notifications. The current property taxes will be reduced for that portion of the property damaged or destroyed. This reduction will be from the date of the damage and will remain in effect until the property is rebuilt or repaired. For the Thomas Fire, the date used is December 5, 2017.

Do property owners need to pay the supplemental bill if they purchased their property in 2017 and then they were affected by the fire?

Yes, you should pay the supplemental bill and/or the secured tax bill. If your property qualifies for disaster relief, the Assessor will reassess the property and reduce the values. The calamity claim relief for December 5, 2017 thru June 30, 2018 will be processed and you will receive notification via the mail. You will receive either a credit or a refund.

How soon will the calamity claims be worked and when will I see my reduced values?

If your property qualified for disaster relief and we were able to reassess your property by the end of February you will receive a corrected bill for the 2nd installment, which is delinquent after April 10, 2018. The Assessor’s Office will mail confirmation that the calamity claim was received and processed.

I am applying for a building permit. How do I get a copy of my Assessor Building record to the Building & Safety department?

Property Owner: Please come to the Assessor’s Office front counter and request a copy of your property building record.

Non-Property Owner: If someone other than the owner makes the request, they must provide Assessor’s Office form AO 640 Taxpayers Authorization for Release of Assessor’s Information signed by the property owner. 

I do not know if I should rebuild my improvements larger and better because I do not want a large increase in my taxes.

When the improvements are rebuilt in a like or similar manner, the property will retain its prior value (Proposition 13). We will restore the prior base year value (BYV) if they rebuild “substantially equivalent” to what was on our inventory.

Any additional value added for new square footage or extras such as additional baths, will be added to the base year value at its full market value. However, it is important to remember that the additional taxes are 1% of the additional assessed value.

I do not know if I suffered enough damage to qualify for a calamity claim or what the requirements to file are?

An Application for Reassessment Property Damaged by Misfortune or Calamity (AO-V 365) must be made by the person who on January 1 was the owner of, or had in his possession, or under his control, the taxable property which suffered damage or by a person who acquired the property after January 1 and is liable for the taxes for the next fiscal year commencing July 1.

The damage must be shown to be ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more.

The application must be delivered to the Assessor within twelve (12) months of the calamity or misfortune.

I don't agree with the reassessed value and believe it should be lower.

If you believe this assessment is incorrect, you have the right to an informal review. For information regarding an informal review, you may contact the Assessor’s Office at (805) 654-2181.

You also have the right to a formal appeal of the assessment. You may appeal the reassessment by submitting an Assessment Appeal Application to the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board within six (6) months of the date of mailing on your Notice of Enrollment of Calamity Reassessment.

An Assessment Appeal Application is available from, and is filed with, the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board. You may contact the Clerk’s Office at their website: or by phone at (805) 654-2251, for more information on filing an application.

I heard that additional square footage, 10% above the original structure square footage, will not have an additional assessment.

Assessed values and permitting fees are administered by separated jurisdictions under separate codes. The Assessor’s Office will review these properties on a case-by-case basis when the property is rebuilt.

Additional information may be found at:

  1. California State Board of Equalization 
  2. Assessor Handbook – AH 531, Residential Building Costs 
  3. California State Board of Equalization – Disaster Relief 
If I end up paying the second installment of my bill, when can I expect a refund?

 You must contact the Auditor’s Office at (805) 654-3181.

If I sell my property in this damaged/destroyed condition, what is the fair market value of my property?

Your assessed value may not represent the fair market value of your property. Please check with a Real Estate Professional to establish the fair market value of your property based on what other affected homes are selling for in your area to determine the effect of the fire on your fair market value.

If my house is uninhabitable, but some improvements remain undamaged (e.g. swimming pool, spa, detached garage, gazebo, built-in BBQ, patio cover, etc.), will you be assessing the remaining improvements, and if so, using what methodology?

The value of the improvements that were not damaged will remain. We valued the remaining improvements using the Los Angeles Cost Handbook (LAC) less depreciation to determine the value to establish the base year, or Prop 13 value, at the time of transfer or completion of the improvements. The base year value of the undamaged improvements will be reflected in the improvement value for the 2018-19 Property Tax Notification of Assessment and Property Tax Bill.

What if there is an addition, remodel, new garage, etc. that is not updated on the Assessor's Office inventory? Will we be assessed when we rebuild?

The Assessor’s Office is reviewing these properties on a case-by-case basis.

Please provide as much information as possible, including but not limited to:

  • When was the non-inventoried improvement built?
  • Was a permit required for this non-inventoried improvement?
  • Provide permits or plans
  • Characteristics of the improvement (i.e. did the addition match the rest of the house?)
  • Obtain a copy of the appraisal from their lender
  • Any photos of the non-inventoried property from friends or family if unavailable from the property owner
What is my responsibility to keep the Assessor informed of a current address?

It is important to understand that without a current mailing address, we will be unable to send you notifications regarding your calamity claim and/or any refunds will not reach you. The Assessor’s Change of Mailing Address form (AO-SD 634).

Will front and backyard landscaping be covered under the calamity claim? I did not have structural damage, but my landscaping was destroyed. Will I have any relief to my value?

 No, for properties that were 100% destroyed in the fire, the land value will be reduced by 25% and the improvement value will be reduced 100%. For those properties that sustained partial damage or smoke damage, the land value will remain unchanged and the improvement value will be reduced by a percentage of the loss.

Will the Assessor's Office automatically reduce the value for properties unaffected by the fire (no physical damage) but in a neighborhood destroyed by the fire?

If your property did not suffer damage of $10,000 or more, and you would like to request a review of your property’s value, submit the AO-V 271t, Thomas Fire Informal Request for Decline in Value Reassessment form to the Assessor’s Office. This form is specifically for homeowners to file when they feel their property values have been negatively affected due to adverse market conditions relating to the Thomas Fire. This form should not be used by homeowners who sustained property damage because of the fire.

The Assessor will review the fair market value of your property and of the other properties in the known affected areas, as of January 1, 2018, compare that value with the current assessed value, and enroll the lower of the two values. You will be notified of your assessment by August 1, 2018. If at that time you disagree with your assessment, please contact the Assessor’s Office to discuss an Informal Review of your property assessment. If you still disagree with the assessed value, you may file an Assessment Appeal Application with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board between July 2, 2018-September 15, 2018.