Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2010
 

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 2. Assessment

CHAPTER 1. Taxation Base

Article 1. Taxable and Exempt Property

Section 218

218. Homeowners' exemption. (a) The homeowners' property tax exemption is in the amount of the assessed value of the dwelling specified in this section, as authorized by subdivision (k) of Section 3 of Article XIII of the California Constitution. That exemption shall be in the amount of seven thousand dollars ($7,000) of the full value of the dwelling.

(b) The exemption does not extend to property that is rented, vacant, under construction on the lien date, or that is a vacation or secondary home of the owner or owners, nor does it apply to property on which an owner receives the veteran's exemption.

(c) For purposes of this section, all of the following apply:

(1) "Owner" includes a person purchasing the dwelling under a contract of sale or who holds shares or membership in a cooperative housing corporation, which holding is a requisite to the exclusive right of occupancy of a dwelling.

(2) (A) "Dwelling" means a building, structure, or other shelter constituting a place of abode, whether real property or personal property, and any land on which it may be situated. A two-dwelling unit shall be considered as two separate single-family dwellings.

(B) "Dwelling" includes the following:

(i) A single-family dwelling occupied by an owner thereof as his or her principal place of residence on the lien date.

(ii) A multiple-dwelling unit occupied by an owner thereof on the lien date as his or her principal place of residence.

(iii) A condominium occupied by an owner thereof as his or her principal place of residence on the lien date.

(iv) Premises occupied by the owner of shares or a membership interest in a cooperative housing corporation, as defined in subdivision (i) of Section 61, as his or her principal place of residence on the lien date. Each exemption allowed pursuant to this subdivision shall be deducted from the total assessed valuation of the cooperative housing corporation. The exemption shall be taken into account in apportioning property taxes among owners of share or membership interests in the cooperative housing corporations so as to benefit those owners who qualify for the exemption.

(d) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to October 20, 1991, that was damaged or destroyed by fire in a disaster, as declared by the Governor, occurring on or after October 20, 1991, and before November 1, 1991, and that has not changed ownership since October 20, 1991, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner.

(e) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to October 15, 2003, that was damaged or destroyed by fire or earthquake in a disaster, as declared by the Governor, during October, November, or December 2003, and that has not changed ownership since October 15, 2003, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner.

(f) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to June 3, 2004, that was damaged or destroyed by flood in a disaster, as declared by the Governor, during June 2004, and that has not changed ownership since June 3, 2004, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner.

(g) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to August 11, 2004, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred in Shasta County in a disaster, as declared by the Governor, during August 2004, and that has not changed ownership since August 11, 2004, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner.

(h) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to December 28, 2004, that was damaged or destroyed by severe rainstorms, floods, mudslides, or the accumulation of debris in a disaster, as declared by the Governor, during December 2004, January 2005, February 2005, March 2005, or June 2005, and that has not changed ownership since December 28, 2004, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to floods, mudslides, the accumulation of debris, or washed-out or damaged roads.

(i) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to December 19, 2005, that was damaged or destroyed by severe rainstorms, floods, mudslides, or the accumulation of debris in a disaster, as declared by the Governor in January 2006, April 2006, May 2006, or June 2006, and that has not changed ownership since December 19, 2005, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to floods, mudslides, the accumulation of debris, or washed-out or damaged roads.

(j) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to July 9, 2006, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred in the County of San Bernardino, as declared by the Governor in July 2006, and that has not changed ownership since July 9, 2006, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(k) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to the commencement dates of the wildfires listed in the Governor's proclamations of 2006 that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred in the Counties of Riverside and Ventura, and that has not changed ownership since the commencement dates of these disasters as listed in the Governor's proclamations of 2006 shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(l) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to January 11, 2007, that was damaged or destroyed by severe freezing conditions, commencing January 11, 2007, and any other related casualty that occurred in the Counties of El Dorado, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tulare, Ventura, and Yuba as a result of a disaster as declared by the Governor, and that has not changed ownership since January 11, 2007, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to severe freezing conditions.

(m) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to June 24, 2007, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the County of El Dorado, as declared by the Governor in June 2007, and that has not changed ownership since June 24, 2007, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(n) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to July 4, 2007, that was damaged or destroyed by the Zaca Fire and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the Counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura, as declared by the Governor in August 2007, and that has not changed ownership since July 4, 2007, may not be denied an exemption solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the Zaca Fire.

(o) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to July 6, 2007, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the County of Inyo, as declared by the Governor in July 2007, and that has not changed ownership since July 6, 2007, may not be denied an exemption solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(p) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to the commencement dates of the wildfires listed in the Governor's disaster proclamations of September 15, 2007, and October 21, 2007, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred in the Counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, and that has not changed ownership since the commencement dates of these disasters as listed in the proclamations shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(q) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to October 20, 2007, that was damaged or destroyed by the extremely strong and damaging winds and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the County of Riverside, as declared by the Governor in November 2007, and that has not changed ownership since October 20, 2007, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the extremely strong and damaging winds.

(r) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to the commencement dates of the wildfires listed in the Governor's disaster proclamations of May, June, or July 2008, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred in the Counties of Butte, Kern, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Plumas, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, and Trinity and that has not changed ownership since the commencement dates of these disasters as listed in the proclamations shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(s) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to July 1, 2008, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the County of Santa Barbara, as declared by the Governor in July 2008, and that has not changed ownership since July 1, 2008, may not be denied an exemption solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(t) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to July 12, 2008, that was damaged or destroyed by severe rainstorms, floods, landslides, or the accumulation of debris in a disaster, as declared by the Governor, in July 2008, and that has not changed ownership since July 12, 2008, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to floods, landslides, the accumulation of debris, or washed-out or damaged roads.

(u) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to May 22, 2008, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the County of Humboldt, as declared by the Governor in August 2008, and that has not changed ownership since May 22, 2008, may not be denied an exemption solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(v) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to the commencement dates of the wildfires that were the subject of the Governor's disaster proclamations of October 13, 2008, and November 15, 2008, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred in the Counties of Los Angeles and Ventura and that has not changed ownership since the commencement dates of these wildfires, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(w) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to November 13, 2008, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the County of Santa Barbara, as declared by the Governor in November 2008, and that has not changed ownership since November 13, 2008, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(x) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to the commencement dates of the wildfires listed in the Governor's disaster proclamations of November 15, 2008, and November 17, 2008, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the Counties of Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino, as declared by the Governor in November 2008, and that has not changed ownership since the commencement dates of these disasters as listed in the proclamations, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(y) Any dwelling that qualified for an exemption under this section prior to May 5, 2009, that was damaged or destroyed by the wildfires and any other related casualty that occurred as a result of this disaster in the County of Santa Barbara, as declared by the Governor in May 2009, and that has not changed ownership since May 5, 2009, shall not be disqualified as a "dwelling" or be denied an exemption under this section solely on the basis that the dwelling was temporarily damaged or destroyed or was being reconstructed by the owner, or was temporarily uninhabited as a result of restricted access to the property due to the wildfires.

(z) The exemption provided for in subdivision (k) of Section 3 of Article XIII of the California Constitution shall first be applied to the building, structure, or other shelter and the excess, if any, shall be applied to any land on which it may be located.

History.—Added by Stats. 1968, p. 8 (First Extra Session), in effect September 23, 1968, operative March 1, 1969. Stats. 1970, p. 1030, in effect November 23, 1970, added the second sentence to the second paragraph. Stats. 1971, p. 3781, in effect March 4, 1972, operative for property taxes for the 1972–73 fiscal year and fiscal years thereafter added "or who holds shares or membership in a cooperative housing corporation, which holding is a requisite to the exclusive right of occupancy of a dwelling" after "sale" in the third sentence of the first paragraph and added subsection (d). Stats. 1972, p. 1, in effect January 18, 1972, substituted "homeowners' " for "homeowner's" in the first sentence. Section 218 as amended by Stats. 1971, Ch. 1752, was repealed by Stats. 1972, p. 2958, in effect December 26, 1972, operative on the lien date in 1973. Section 218 was reenacted by the same Stats. 1972, p. 1958, with the same effective and operative dates which increased the amount of the exemption from $750 to $1,750 and made the exemption applicable to a multiple dwelling unit occupied by the owner of more than two units. Stats. 1973, Ch. 842, p. 1506, in effect January 1, 1974, inserted "paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) of" before "section 17265" in subsection (d). Stats. 1974, Ch. 311, p. 597, in effect January 1, 1975, substituted "subdivision (k) of Section 3" for "Section 1d" in the first sentence of the first paragraph and in the first sentence of the sixth paragraph. Stats. 1976, Ch. 1060, p. 4691, in effect September 21, 1976, deleted "or to property for which an owner received an allowance for taxes, either in whole or in part, either directly or indirectly, for the property tax year from the state or any political subdivision thereof, except assistance received under Part 10.5 (commencing with Section 19501) of Division 2 of this code" after "veteran's exemption" in the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, and added the seventh paragraph. Stats. 1978, Ch. 1207, in effect January 1, 1979, operative January 1, 1981, added the second sentence to the first paragraph and deleted the second and third paragraphs. Stats. 1986, Ch. 608, effective date January 1, 1987, inserted "or her" after "his" in subsections (a) and (b), substituted "subdivision (h) of Section 61, as his or her" for "paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 17265, as his" after "defined in" in the first sentence of subsection (d), and deleted the former fifth paragraph regarding pending litigation affecting this section. Stats. 1992, Ch. 1180, in effect January 1, 1993, substituted "that" for "such" before "exemption" in the second sentence of the first paragraph, added "or her" after "his" in subdivision (c); and added the fourth paragraph. Stats. 2003, Ch. 471 (SB 1062), in effect January 1, 2004, designated the former first paragraph as subdivision (a); designated the former first sentence of the second paragraph as subdivision (b) and substituted "that" for "which" twice therein; created subdivision (c) by adding the phrase "For purposes of this section, all of the following apply:", and designated the former second sentences of the second paragraph as paragraph (1) thereof, designated the former first and second sentence of the former third paragraph as paragraph (2) thereof, deleted "For purposes of this section" before "A two-dwelling" therein, deleted the former third sentence of the second paragraph that provided "As used in this section 'dwelling' shall include:", added subparagraph (B), designated former subsections (a), (b), (c), and (d) of the former second paragraph as clauses (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv), respectively, and substituted "subdivision (i)" for "subdivision (h)" after "as defined in" in the first sentence of clause; and designated the former fourth and fifth paragraphs as subdivisions (d) and (e), respectively. Stats. 2004, Ch. 792 (SB 1147), in effect September 25, 2004, relettered former subdivision (e) as new subdivision (g) and added new subdivisions (e) and (f). Stats. 2005, Ch. 624 (AB 18), in effect October 6, 2005, relettered former subdivision (g) as subdivision (i) and added new subdivisions (g) and (h). Stats. 2006, Ch. 897 (AB 2735), in effect September 30, 2006, relettered former subdivision (i) as subdivision (k) and added new subdivisions (i) and (j). Stats. 2007, Ch. 224 (AB 62), in effect September 21, 2007, relettered former subdivision (k) as subdivision (o) and added subdivisions (k), (l), (m) and (n). Stats. 2008, Ch. 386 (SB 1064), in effect September 27, 2008, relettered former subdivision (o) as subdivision (v) and added subdivisions (o), (p), (q), (r), (s), (t) and (u). Stats. 2009, Ch. 299 (AB 1568), in effect January 1, 2010, added "California" after "Article XIII of the" in the first sentence of subdivision (a); relettered former subdivision (v) as subdivision (z) and added "California" after "Article XIII of the" in the first sentence therein; and added subdivisions (v), (w), (x), and (y).

Note.—Section 6 of Stats. 2009, Ch. 299 (AB 1568), in effect January 1, 2010, provided that it is the intent of the Legislature to provide in the annual Budget Act those additional reimbursements to local governments that, as a result of Section 1 of this act, are required by Section 25 of Article XIII of the California Constitution.

Section 7 thereof provided that the Legislature finds and declares that this act fulfills a statewide public purpose because of all of the following:

(a) The Governor of California has officially proclaimed a state of emergency declaring that the wildfires that occurred within the Counties of Los Angeles and Ventura, commencing in October 2008 or November 2008, constitute conditions of extreme peril to public health and safety to persons and property within those counties, thus qualifying affected persons for various forms of governmental assistance and relief.

(b) The Governor of California has officially proclaimed a state of emergency declaring that the wildfires that occurred within the Counties of Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino, commencing in November 2008, constitute conditions of extreme peril to public health and safety to persons and property within those counties, thus qualifying affected persons for various forms of governmental assistance and relief.

(c) The Governor of California has officially proclaimed a state of emergency declaring that the wildfires that occurred within the County of Santa Barbara, commencing in November 2008 or May 2009, constitute conditions of extreme peril to public health and safety to persons and property within that county, thus qualifying affected persons for various forms of governmental assistance and relief.

(d) This act is consistent with, and supplements, the proclaimed disaster assistance and relief by providing necessary fiscal assistance and tax relief to affected jurisdictions and persons to allow them to maintain essential basic services and repair damage to, and restore, their homes and businesses.

Construction.—Owners of leasehold condominiums are entitled to this exemption because the interests satisfied the statutory definitional requirements of a condominium, and since a condominium may be a leasehold or subleasehold in duration, each owner owned a condominium within the meaning of this section. In the context of assessments, the term "owner" is used for both fee and nonfee condominiums, and nonfee condominiums include leasehold and subleasehold condominiums. Smith v. State Board of Equalization, 53 Cal.App.4th 331.