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Facts & Figures - California

Property taxes for the state of California.

If you were living in The Golden State in 1978, you may be intimately familiar with Proposition 13, or the “People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation.” The rules are the same today and state that the maximum tax on real estate is not to exceed 1% of the full cash value of a property. Proposition 13, however, does not cover personal property such as office furniture, tools, and machinery.

Proposition 13 covers several types of real property such as land containing mines, minerals, quarries, and timber, as well as any kind of addition (buildings, fences, structures, etc.) to the land. Fruits, nut and ornamental trees, and vines are also covered.

Proposition 13 was created due to a growing population rate in the state and consequently rising property values and commensurate taxes. Although much of the tax money went towards developing schools and roads, many fixed-income residents were hit hard by the increasing taxes and couldn’t afford to live in their homes. To read more about the history and specifics of Proposition 13, click here.

Exempt from taxation are properties used for religious, hospital, scientific, or charitable organizations that operate for nonprofit purposes. Grapevines and orchards are also exempt from taxation but only for the first three years for the former and the first four years for the latter from the day they are planted. Standing timber is exempt but taxed when cut.

Assistance is provided after taxes have been filed to homeowners 62 years and older with an annual income of $35,051 or less. They can enjoy assistance on 96% of their property tax, up to $34,000 of the assessed value of their homes. Also, by virtue of a property tax postponement program, senior citizens and blind or disabled veterans are allowed to postpone payment of property tax on their primary place of residence. They must secure a lien, though, and interest is charged on the postponed taxes.

To find your county’s tax assessor, click here. You can actually visit the website of each assessor. So, if you want to see the assessor’s page for Mariposa County, simply scroll down and click on the link provided.


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