California Religious Exemption Law


The Constitution of State of California permits only qualified non-profit organizations a property tax exemption when the qualified organization uses the property exclusively for exempt purposes.

The IRS 501(c)(3) designation does not entitle an organization to a  property tax exemption in California.

In Ventura County there are approximately 1,000 parcels under some sort of religious exemption classification. 

Trained exemption staff reviews the forms to ensure the exempt property meets the exclusive use test in the law and confirm there are no disqualifying uses that would invalidate the exemption. 

On average, approximately 2% of claims in any given year receive additional levels of review.  Of these, less than half will have some adjustment to their filing.  Some file the wrong form. Some do not file a claim so follow-up is needed, etc. Some organizations need to file two claims for a full property exemption. In some cases only a portion of the property may qualify for an exemption.         

Reviews are on a case-by-case basis. The system of property taxation in California is based on self-reporting similar to payroll and income tax.  Various levels of verification and audit, ensures the integrity of this system.

Organizations that receive a local property tax exemption may still receive a bill from the tax collector for special assessments.  Special assessments are not processed by the Assessor but rather by special districts through the Auditor’s office.  Organizations are required to pay property fees and charges from assessment districts such as water, sanitation, sewer, etc. unless these districts provide an exemption.

Click here to watch a video on California Laws and Regulations.

To learn more about non-profit exemption, visit our nonprofit exemption page.