Glossary Of Terms

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Account Number:

An added separate 3-digit number found on the right of the parcel or ID number on your tax bill. This number is used for Business Personal Property assessments and unsecured assessments. The APN is followed by a three digit account number making the identification both the Assessor Parcel number or ID number and the account number.

Ad Valorem Property Tax:

A tax imposed on the basis of value.

Assessed Value:

The taxable value of a property against which the tax rate is applied

Assessment Appeal:

The formal process whereby a business or property owner can file an application with the Assessment Appeals Board to contest their property or business personal property assessment. The filing period for Assessment Appeals is annually starting July 2nd - September 15th and is filed with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board in each county.

Assessment Ratio:

The relationship between assessed value and market value. The residential assessment ratio in California is 100% (for 2014 and 2015).

Assessor's Parcel Number (APN):

The Assessor's Parcel Number (referred to as 'Parcel or ID Number' on the upper right hand portion of the tax bill) is an identification number for property. It is a 10-digit number assigned to the property that identifies the location of the property on the Assessor's Maps. In most cases this is the number that is shown on your tax bill and is used by the Tax collector in identifying your tax payment for that particular parcel. An example of an APN is 086-0-083-015 The first three numbers identify the Assessor's Map Book (map book 086 in this example). The next single number is an added identifier for use with specialized properties. The next three numbers show the block on the map page (block 083 in the example above). The last three numbers show the location of the exact parcel on the block. The parcel numbering system is maintained and used for the sole purposes of identifying property for tax purposes. The Assessor is responsible for updating the parcel numbers as changes in real property occur.

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Base Year Value:

For real property assessed under Proposition 13, its fair market value as of either the 1975 lien date or the date the property was purchased, newly constructed, or underwent a change in ownership after the 1975 lien date.

Business Personal Property Tax:

Any business that owns Personal Property and/or Leasehold Improvements having a total combined cost or current market value of $100,000 or more is required to file a Business Personal property Statement (BPS) even if the Assessor did not send you a formal request to do so. Also, any other business that is requested by the County Assessor to file, must file, regardless of the value of their assets. The BPS collects information regarding the supplies, business equipment and leasehold improvements for each business location within the county.

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Calamity Claim:

An application for owners who have sustained a property loss due to destruction or damage from a flood, a fire or earthquakes. Property tax relief may be granted if the loss exceeds $10,000 and the application is filed within 12 months of the date of loss.

Change in ownership:

A transfer of present interest in real property, including its beneficial use, the value of which is substantially equal to that of the full estate in the property.

Cost Per Square Foot:

A property's cost per square foot, normally determined by dividing the property's sale price by the square footage of the structure. However, this figure can be misleading. Cost per square foot does not take lot size into account and should only be used as a basis of comparison when looking at properties of similar lot size, characteristics and date sold.

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Decline in Value (R&T Sec. 51) Review:

When the current market (saleable) value of your property has fallen below the current assessed value as shown on the assessment roll, you may request a Decline in Value (R&T Sec. 51) Reassessment Application. There is no fee for this reassessment.


A written, legal instrument that conveys interest in real property when executed and delivered (e.g. bargain & sale deed, quit claim deed, warranty deed).

Document Number:

The number assigned to a recorded document by the County Recorder's Office.

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A limited right in a piece of land owned by another. This entitles the holder of the right to some use of the land. For instance, if Barney owns a property that is completely surrounded by Fred's property, Barney can get an easement to build a driveway from his property to the main road.


An exclusion results in a property being either not reassessed due to a change of ownership or not subject to a supplemental assessment when newly constructed. Current exclusions changes in ownership are provided for certain transfers among family members and for builders who hold real estate for resale rather than use for rent. Please review the areas of our website referring to Family Transfers and Builder's Exclusions. Additionally some types of added new construction is excluded from taxation.


A property tax exemption excuses all or a portion of the assessment because the assessee has met certain criteria allowed by the State Constitution. Tax exemptions may be granted for properties used by homeowners, veterans, disabled veterans, veteran's organizations or non-profit organizations. An exemption is applied against the taxable value. Even when the taxable amount is zero, there may still be assessments levied based upon a per parcel charge.

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Factored Base Year Value:

The base year value defined above adjusted not more than 2% annually for inflation. This adjusted value is known as the "factored base year value."

Fiscal year:

The Tax Year is referred to as the 2015-16 tax year and it runs from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. Changes in ownership and new construction occurring in the previous calendar year January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 are reflected on the 2015-2016 tax year. The Assessor produces the current roll based on the previous calendar year changes.


An item of tangible property, the nature of which was originally personal property, but which is classified as real property for property tax purposes because it is physically or constructively attached to real property with the intent that it remain attached indefinitely.

Full Cash Value or Fair Market Value:

The amount of cash or its equivalent that property would bring if put up for sale in the open market under certain conditions:

  • neither buyer nor seller could take advantage of the exigencies of the other
  • both the buyer and seller have knowledge of all of the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used
  • both buyer and seller must be aware of any enforceable restrictions on the property's uses and purposes
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A person to whom property is transferred by deed or to whom property rights are granted by a document.


A person who transfers property by deed or grants property rights through a document.

Guaranteed Title:

A title whose validity is insured by an abstract, title, or indemnity company.

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Homeowner's Exemption:

This exemption provides the homeowner with up to a $7,000 exemption on the annual assessment of their owner-occupied residence. This can equate to roughly $70 per year in property tax savings..

Homestead Declaration:

The homestead declaration, or "Declaration of Homestead", is a statutory protection whereby a homeowner's equity in his or her residence may be protected from judgments, liens and creditors.  A Homestead declaration is not a property tax form, and it is not filed with the Assessor's office.  You may download this form from the Ventura County Recorder's website and once completed, submit it to the Recorder's office for recordation. We recommend that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with all current legal aspects and ramifications of the homesteading process before filing such a claim.  You may find more information at California Department of Consumer Affairs.

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Any structures that are built on a piece of land. For instance, a house built on a vacant lot is considered an improvement. Improvements include:

  • All buildings, structures, fixtures, and fences erected on or attached to the land
  • All fruit, nut bearing, or ornamental trees and vines, not growing naturally, and not exempt from taxation, except date palms under eight years old

The condition of dying without leaving a valid will.

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Joint Tenancy:

Joint ownership by two or more persons with the right of survivorship.

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Land Value:

The value allocated to the land on which a property sits. This does not include the value of the structure, but may include improvements to the land such as landscaping, concrete paving, roads and sidewalks.

Legal Description:

A description of land that identifies the real estate according to a system established by law; an exact description that enables the real estate to be located and identified.

Legal Owner:

The owner of title, as distinguished from the holders of other interests, e,g., beneficial or possessory interests.

Lien Date:

The time when taxes become a lien on property, and the time when property is valued for tax purposes. This date is January 1st of each year, beginning in 1997.

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Market Value:

As defined in Revenue and Taxation Code Section 110, "The amount of cash or its equivalent that property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market under conditions in which neither buyer nor seller could take advantage of the exigencies of the other, and both the buyer and seller have knowledge of all of the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used, and of the enforceable restrictions upon those uses and purposes."

Mello Roos:

Mello-Roos is the common name for the Community Facilities District Act, enacted by the California State Legislature in 1982.The name comes from its co-authors, Senator Henry Mello of the Monterey area and Los Angeles assemblyman Mike Roos. Mello-Roos enabled “Community Facilities Districts” (CFDs) to be established by local government agencies as a means of obtaining community funding.

For more information see:


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New Base Year Value:

the full cash value or property of the date it changes ownership or of the new construction on the date that it was completed.

New Construction:

Any addition to real property, whether land or improvements (including fixtures) since the last lien date; or any alteration of land or improvements (including fixtures) since the last lien date that constitutes a major rehabilitation that is substantially equivalent to new or that converts the property to a different use.

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Owner of Record:

The owner of title to a property as indicated by public records.

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A piece of land of any size in one ownership.

Parcel Number:

A code number that serves as an abbreviation of a parcel?s legal description; used to store data in an information system.

Personal Property:

All tangible property except real estate.  See also Real Property.


A plan, map or chart of a city, town, section, or subdivision indicating the location and boundaries of individual properties.

Possessory Interest:

A taxable possessory interest is created when a private party is granted the exclusive use for private benefit of real property owned by a non-taxable entity. An expanded definition may be found in Revenue and Taxation Code Section 107.

The key criteria that must exist to have a taxable possessory interest are the possession or right to possession of real property owned by a non-taxable entity. The possession must be independent, durable, and exclusive of the rights held by others, and provide a private benefit to the possessor above that which is granted to the general public.

Taxable possessory interests can be created in virtually any use of government owned real property. Common examples would be campgrounds, government employee housing, forest cabins, golf courses, ski resorts, airplane hangers and terminals, anchorages, restaurants, grazing rights, stores, homes, apartments, cable television rights-of-way, easements and boat slips.

The right to possession is often detailed in written agreement such as a lease or contract.  However, it is not necessary for there to be a written agreement for a taxable possessory interest to exist. The core reasons for a possessory interest taxes is the independent use a publicly held real property for a  private benefit for a durable time period.  If you have questions regarding your possessory interest assessment please contact our office.

Property Tax Law covering possessory interest can be found in Revenue and Taxation Code Sections 61, 107 - 107.9, 480.6, and Property Tax Rules 20-28.


Includes manufactured homes subject to Taxation under Proposition 13, and real property other than the following:

  • Fixtures that are normally valued as a separate appraisal unit from a structure.
  • Newly created taxable possessory interests, established by month to month agreements in publicly owned real property, having a cash value of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or less.
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Real Estate:

Physical land and appurtenances attached to the land, e.g., structures. An identified parcel or tract of land, including improvements, if any.

Real Property:


  • All interests, benefits, and rights inherent in the ownership of physical real estate; the bundle of rights with which the ownership of the real estate is endowed.
  • All mines, minerals, and quarries in the land, and all pertinent rights and privileges
  • Improvements

The filing of a copy of a legal document, e.g., a deed, at the Office of the Clerk & Recorder, creating a public record of this document for the protection of all concerned.

Right of:

Right of surviving joint tenant to acquire the interest of the deceased joint

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Secured Assessment:

A secured assessment is payable in two parts by December 10th on the first installment and April 10th on the second installment of each year.  Once a secured assessment goes unpaid it will be subject to a lien being placed upon the property to insure the payment of taxes.

Secured Tax Rate:

The percentage at which property on the secured roll is taxed.  Taxes on real property cannot exceed 1 percent of its taxable value plus an amount to pay the interest and redemption charges on

  • debts approved by the voters prior to June 6, 1978
  • debts approved by a two-thirds vote of the qualified voters after that date
  • effective January 1, 2001, certain bonded indebtedness for school facilities approved by a 55 percent majority
Site Use Code:

The code that indicates how a property is being used.


In real estate, the physical location of a property, commonly referred to as it's address. For assessment purposes there is only one situs displayed per Assessor Parcel Number (APN)

Special Assessment:

An assessment against real estate levied by a public authority to pay for public improvements, e.g., sidewalks, sewers, street improvements, etc. or an amount levied against individual owners in a condominium or cooperative to cover their proportionate shares of a common expense.

Special Districts:

Special service governments created to provide a particular service, e.g., economic development districts, water resource management districts.

Supplemental Assessment:

A property tax assessment made whenever a property or a portion of it, changes ownership or undergoes new construction.  The amount of each supplemental assessment is the difference between the property?s new base year value- determined as of the date of change in ownership or completion of new construction- and the taxable value prior to the change.

Supplemental Roll:

the roll prepared or amended in accordance with Proposition 13 containing properties that have had ownership changes or had competed new construction.


tenant in joint tenancies without any probate proceedings.

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Tax Amount:

The annual property tax as determined by the assessed value and tax rate.

Tax Lien:

A lien that is automatically attached to property in the amount of its unpaid property taxes.

Tax Rate Area:

An area within a county that is taxed at a particular rate, usually resulting from the number of public services in the area such as fire and police protection.

Taxable Value:

is the base year value adjusted on any given lien date as required by law or the full cash value for the same date, which ever is less.

Taxing Entity:

Political subdivision of the state with the power to levy tax on property that lies within its geographical boundaries.

Tenancy in Common:

An estate held by two or more persons, each of whom has an undivided


The combination of all elements that constitute proof of ownership.

Title Company:

The entity that insures the title for the owner of the property.

Title Insurance:

Protects the owner or other insured, such as a lender, against loss or impairment of title.

Transfer Date:

The date the sale of the property is recorded.

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Undivided Interest:

Fractional ownership without physical division into shares.

Unimproved Land:

Vacant land or land that lacks the essential, appurtenant improvements required to make it useful.

Unsecured Assessment:

Unsecured assessments are payable by August 31st in a single payment each year.  Once an unsecured assessment goes unpaid it will be subject to seizure of personal accounts or personal property to insure the payment of taxes.

Unsecured Tax Rate:

Previous year's secured property tax rate.

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Value Notice:

The Assessor must notify the property owner of any change in value. The Value Notice is mailed in mid-July for all real property and business personal property each year. This provides the property owner with the opportunity to review the value and contact the Assessor if they have concerns. In addition this starts the time frame for formal appeals which is from July 2nd  through September 15th each year.