If you own a home and occupy it as your principal place of residence on January 1, you may apply for a Homeowners' Exemption. This exemption will reduce your annual tax bill by at least $70. If you build or acquire a home, and there was no exemption on the annual tax roll, you may apply for a Homeowners' Exemption on the supplemental tax roll.
In order to qualify, you must occupy the home within 90 days of the completion of new construction or the change in ownership. You should also apply for this exemption within 30 days of receiving a Notice of Supplemental Assessment.
You must immediately notify the Assessor's Office if a property becomes ineligible for a Homeowner's Exemption after it has been granted an exemption.
Homeowners' Exemptions are not automatically transferred between properties. If you move, you must file an application for a new exemption.
For a more detailed overview and answers to most commonly asked questions, please review our Homeowners' Exemption Frequently Asked Questions below. If you do not find an answer to your question here, please contact the Assessor’s Office at (805) 654-2181, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.
REMINDER: Once you have an approved claim on file, you must notify the Assessor’s Office in writing if you move from the property, rent it, move ‘permanently’ to an extended care facility or rest home, or occupy your property only as a secondary home (refer to questions below for more detail). Your notice to the Assessor should include the following:
Where the Disabled Veterans Exemption is concerned, the answer is no, you are only entitled to have one or the other exemption, but not both. The Disabled Veterans' Exemption ($150,000 maximum) normally provides much more benefit than the Homeowners' Exemption ($7,000 maximum), and is the preferred choice if one must chose between the two.
Where the obscure and little-used Veterans' Exemption (which is different from the Disabled Veterans' Exemption; has $4,000 maximum benefit and very restrictive income limits) is concerned, the answer is generally no. However, there are some very rare instances where an owner may legally hold the Veterans' Exemption and a Homeowners' Exemption simultaneously, and you should discuss this issue with the Assessor's staff if you think it might apply to you. The Homeowners' Exemption ($7,000 maximum) provides more benefit than the Veterans' Exemption ($4,000 maximum), and is the preferred choice if one must chose between the two.
To obtain the exemption for a property, you must be its owner or co-owner (or a purchaser named in a contract of sale), and you must live in the property as your principal place of residence. You must also file the appropriate exemption claim form with the Assessor.
There are two, basic, alternative ways that persons qualify for this exemption:
Under Alternative 2, whatever exemption is granted will be applied to the supplemental assessment or assessments, if any, and the full exemption will take effect during the next fiscal year, provided the claim is timely filed (i.e., within 30 days of the date of Notice of Supplemental Assessment).
If you do not own the property, you should not file a Homeowners' Exemption claim. If you do not occupy, or intend to occupy property you own, you should not file a Homeowners' Exemption claim.
No. You are only entitled to one Homeowners' Exemption.
Backlogs may occur at different times during the year in processing 15,000 or so Homeowners' Exemption claims and changes we receive each year. These backlogs sometimes delay the processing of a claim for a few weeks. As a result, it is not uncommon for property tax bills to be issued that do not properly include the exemption. If you receive an annual property tax bill without the exemption, do not ignore it.
Where a claim is processed too late to be applied to the tax bill, you should pay the first and second installments of the tax bill you received by their respective delinquent dates to avoid any penalties. Once we process your claim, a corrected bill will be issued with the exemption reflected in the amount of that bill.
If you paid both installments a refund check will be issued to you. If you paid the first installment only because the second installment was not yet due, your first installment payment from the original bill will be credited to the first installment of the corrected tax bill and the difference refunded to you. You will be responsible for payment of the second installment of the corrected tax bill by the next due date. A refund cannot be issued until after the original bill has been paid and the corrected bill issued.
If the Homeowners' Exemption appears on the annual property tax bill, it will not appear on supplemental or additional property tax bills issued for the same tax year.
If you are a new owner of property purchased after the lien date of January 1, and the Homeowner's Exemption does not appear on the annual property tax bill, it should appear on your supplemental property tax bill.
We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the delay in processing your exemption claim, but one way or the other, you will eventually receive the proper benefit of the exemption if you qualify.
In the unfortunate circumstance where your claim may have been lost in the mail or by the Assessor's Homeowners' Exemption staff by calling (805) 654-2287 (8:00 am -5:00 pm).
You may contact our Homeowners' Exemption Section in a number of ways:
Yes. In order for your property to receive the exemption in the years following your acquisition, you, as the new owner, must file a claim even if the property was already receiving the Homeowner's Exemption under the prior owner.
Yes. You must notify the Assessor in writing whenever a property you own is no longer eligible for the Homeowners' Exemption. Please notify us as soon as possible after vacating the property, but in no case later than the first December 10 following the lien date (January 1) immediately following your vacating the property. Failure to notify the Assessor will result in escape assessments and penalties if an unauthorized exemption is discovered.
No. Once you have been granted the exemption, and as long as you continue to own and occupy the property on a continuing basis, there is no need to refile a claim. However, if you vacate on a long-term basis (such that you are not residing there on January 1, the lien date), or rent or lease the property, you must notify the Assessor in writing that you are no longer eligible for the exemption. If at a later date you then reoccupy the property, you must then file a new claim in order to receive the exemption.
Use the original date you first became the owner of the property (approximate dates are acceptable).
Use the date you first moved into the property but only if your occupancy of the property has been continuous since that date. If you previously vacated the property and then moved back, use the most recent date you moved-in. (Approximate dates are acceptable)
Unfortunately, the answer is no. In order to be eligible, they must both own and occupy the property as specified in the law. Owners who permanently relocate to a rest home must also notify the Assessor that they are no longer eligible for the exemption. Failure to do so will result in escape assessments and penalties if an unauthorized exemption is discovered.
The California Constitution provides for the exemption of $7,000 (maximum) in assessed value from the property tax assessment of any property owned and occupied as the owner's principal place of residence. The exemption reduces the annual property tax bill for a qualified homeowner by at least $70. (Art XIII Sec 3 of the CA Constitution, Rev & Tax 218).
Alternative 1 - Main Assessment Roll Filing (owned & occupied as of 12:01 am January 1).
Alternative 2 - Supplemental Assessment Filing (owned & occupied or intent to occupy within 90 days of a change in ownership or completion of new construction):
A qualifying dwelling can be any place you own as your principal place of residence and that is subject to property tax. Examples include, but are not limited to:
A dwelling will not qualify for the exemption if it is (or is intended to be) rented or leased, vacant/unoccupied, or if it is the vacation or secondary home of the claimant, or if you do not own it.
The numbers are required because the Assessor uses them to verify your eligibility and because the State Board of Equalization uses them to detect unauthorized multiple claims. In order to do that, the state runs the Social Security Number information you provide through an electronic matching process that detects instances of multiple filings.
The Social Security Number information may also be used by State Department of Justice Parent Locator Services and State Department of Social Services Statewide Automated Child Support System for locating absent parents or property of persons who are delinquent in their child support payments. The State Department of Social Services may also use them to identify homeowners who failed to report property ownership to county welfare departments.
The content of the application is prescribed by law and cannot be altered by the Assessor. The reporting of the Social Security Number is required by the State Board of Equalization as part of the application process under Revenue & taxation Code Section 218.5, which grants that Board the discretionary authority to make that requirement.
The Social Security Number requirement is made under the umbrella of Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 405(c)(2)(C)(I), which authorizes the use of Social Security Numbers for the administration of any tax.
It is also true that Federal law does restrict local governments' authority to require the Social Security Number under the "Privacy Act of 1974" (Title 5 United States Code, Section 552a). However, the Privacy Act was amended (Section 7 of Public Law 93-579, USC), to provide that if the reporting was required by the state before January 1, 1975, then the state could continue to require its reporting. Reporting the Social Security Number was required on the Homeowners' Exemption claim form before that specified date; hence, its requirement now appears to be within the law.
In any case, failure to provide the SSN on the Homeowners' Exemption claim form will result in a delay in the processing and disallowance of the claim.
No. The Homeowners' Exemption claim form is NOT a public document and both it and the Social Security Number information on the form must be held confidential by the Assessor as a matter of law (reference Property Tax Rule 135(e)(4)).
A temporary move to a convalescent hospital will not disqualify the property from the exemption unless the stay becomes prolonged. In other words, the exemption is allowed if the owner is expected to return. However, according to the State Board of Equalization, an absence of more than one year raises considerable doubt that the owner is expected to return, and in that case eligibility may be terminated.