Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2011

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 2. Assessment

CHAPTER 2. Legal Description of Lands for Assessment Purposes

Chapter 2. Legal Description of Lands for Assessment Purposes

321. Land description. Land shall be legally described for tax purposes pursuant to this chapter.

322. Federal surveys. If surveyed under the authority of the United States, land may be described by township, range, section, and fractional section, with its acreage.

History.—Stats. 1947, p. 2160, in effect September 19, 1947, added last paragraph. Stats. 1974, Ch. 311, p. 603, in effect January 1, 1975, deleted the former second and former last paragraphs relating to the description of parcels containing more than 640 acres.

323. Spanish grants. If held under Spanish grant, land may be described by the exterior boundaries of the grants, or by the name of the grants, and the divisions, subdivisions, and acreage claimed.

History.—Stats. 1941, p. 3111, in effect September 13, 1941, added reference to "the name of the grants."

324. City lots. City lots may be described by naming the city and giving the number of the lot and block, according to the system of numbering in the city.

325. Official maps. When a map has been adopted as an official map under Division 3 (commencing with Section 66499.50) of Title 7 of the Government Code, land may be described by numbers or letters as shown on the official map.

History.—Stats. 1943, p. 878, in effect August 4, 1943, inserted reference to Business and Professions Code in lieu of Political Code Section 3658a. Stats. 1978, Ch. 1112, in effect January 1, 1979, deleted the phrase "Chapter 3 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Business and Professions Code," and replaced it with "Division 3 (commencing with Section 66499.50) of Title 7 of the Government Code,".

Reference to map.—When a map is contained on one page of the county records and a portion of its descriptive matter on the following page, it is sufficient to refer only to the page containing the map. Mallman v. Kneeben, 11 Cal.App.2d 484.

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326. Owner's maps. Whenever a map, other than an official map, has been furnished by the owner, claimant, or user of land, and it contains sufficient information clearly to identify the land, and it is properly identified by and filed with the assessor or the board, the land may be described by reference to this map.

Estoppel of owner.—Where a map is furnished by the owner of property assessed, the owner is estopped from challenging the sufficiency of the description which he had given to the assessor, and is also estopped from questioning the fact that the property was assessed by reference to the numbers of the subdivisions upon the map instead of describing the lands by metes and bounds. E. E. McCalla Co. v. Sleeper, 105 Cal.App. 562.

327. Assessor's maps. Where any county or county officer possesses a complete, accurate map of any land in the county, or whenever such a complete, accurate map has been made in compliance with Sections 27556 to 27560, inclusive, of the Government Code, the assessor may number or letter the parcels in a manner approved by the board of supervisors. The assessor may renumber or reletter the parcels or prepare new map pages for any portion of such map to show combinations or divisions of parcels in a manner approved by the board of supervisors, so long as an inspection of such map will readily disclose precisely what land is covered by any particular parcel number or letter in the current or any prior fiscal year. This map or copy shall at all times be publicly displayed in the office of the assessor.

Land may be described by a reference to this map except that land shall not be described in any deed or conveyance by a reference to any such map unless such map has been filed for record in the office of the county recorder of the county in which such land is located.

All such maps in the possession of county assessors on August 27, 1937, and used for assessment purposes only, are deemed to have been numbered or lettered and approved properly.

History.—Stats. 1945, p. 2088, in effect September 15, 1945, added second clause, relative to maps complying with Section 4218 of the Political Code. Stats. 1947, p. 2161, in effect September 19, 1947, added second sentence to first paragraph. Stats. 1951, p. 2878, in effect September 22, 1951, added to second paragraph the exception requiring that map be filed for record. Stats. 1953, p. 1821, in effect September 9, 1953, substituted "Sections 27556 to 27560, inclusive, of the Government Code" for "Section 4218 of the Political Code."

327.1. Subdivision maps; digital copies. The board of supervisors of any county may enact, by a majority vote of its membership, an ordinance, resolution, or board order that requires any party that records a digital subdivision map with the county recorder to also file a duplicate digital copy of that map with the county assessor.

History.—Added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 214 (SB 2086), in effect January 1, 2003. Stats. 2004, Ch. 194 (SB 1832), in effect January 1, 2005, added ", resolution, or board order" after "an ordinance" in the first sentence.

327.5. Subdivisions; existing residential structure prohibitions. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the assessor shall not assign any parcel numbers or prepare a separate assessment or separate valuation to divide any existing residential structure into a subdivision, as defined in Section 66424 of the Government Code, until a subdivision final map or parcel map, as described in Sections 66434 and 66445, respectively, of the Government Code has been recorded as required by law. If the requirement for a parcel map is waived pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 66428 of the Government Code, then the assessor shall not assign any parcel numbers or prepare a separate assessment or separate valuation, unless the applicant provides a copy of the finding made by the legislative body or advisory agency, as required by that subdivision.

History.—Added by Stats. 2005, Ch. 281 (AB 14), in effect January 1, 2006.

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328. Other descriptions. Land may be described by metes and bounds, or other description sufficient to identify it, giving the locality and an estimate of the number of acres.

History.—Stats. 1974, Ch. 311, p. 603, in effect January 1, 1975, deleted ", not exceeding 640 acres in any parcel" after "acres".

Generally.—An assessment containing no description sufficient to identify the land is void. Palomares Land Co. v. Los Angeles County, 146 Cal. 530; Sinai v. Mull, 80 Cal.App.2d 277. But cf. Blinn Lumber Co. v. Los Angeles County, 216 Cal. 474, and San Francisco v. San Mateo County, 17 Cal.2d 814, to the effect that an assessee cannot complain of an insufficient description when he has not been misled thereby.

It is permissible in aid of a description in an assessment to show that it is in fact sufficient to identify the land. When, in the light of the knowledge which it must be presumed is possessed by the property owners of the community in which the property is situated, the description is sufficient to apprise the property owner of the exact property assessed to him, it is sufficient for all assessment purposes. The use of abbreviations is permissible if thereby the property may be easily known. Baird v. Monroe, 150 Cal. 560.

An owner is estopped from challenging the sufficiency of a description furnished by him. Smith v. Addiego, 54 Cal.App.2d 230.

The inclusion of the phrase "(Ex of Mining Right)" in a tax collector's deed does not make the description uncertain or ambiguous for it is clear that it means with the exception of the mining rights. Alspach v. Landrum, 82 Cal.App.2d 901.

Maps.—A description may be in accordance with an unrecorded map. Smith v. Addiego, 54 Cal.App.2d 230.

Water rights.—A separate assessment of riparian rights is void if there is no legal description of the riparian lands. Spring Valley Water Co. v. Alameda County, 24 Cal.App. 278.

Town lots.—An assessment which designates the lot and block number but fails to designate the city or town and is unaided by a reference to any map is void. Wright v. Fox, 150 Cal. 680. Similarly, an assessment is void which fails to describe the property as being within the corporate limits of a city. Tasker v. Nieto, 108 Cal.App. 135, 149.

An arbitrary number given to a certain lot for the convenience of the assessor and appearing in the description on the assessment roll does not vitiate the assessment. Jacoby v. Wolff, 198 Cal. 667.

An assessment describing a lot as follows, "In Los Angeles County, Glendale, lot 22, blk. 4," is sufficient. Furrey v. Lautz, 162 Cal. 397.

A description contained in an assessment as 'one-half of Lot 12, Block 132," is void for uncertainty in that it cannot be ascertained therefrom what half of the lot is attempted to be described. No presumption of fact may be indulged in as to the size, location or extent of a lot, nor is parol evidence admissible to ascertain what particular tract or lot the assessor had in mind when making the assessment. Stewart v. Atkinson, 96 Cal.App. 50.

Reference to maps.—A description by lot and tract without reference to a map is prima facie invalid. Campbell v. Shafer, 162 Cal. 206; Morton v. Sloan, 96 Cal.App. 747. The court will not presume that there is a map sufficient to identify the property assessed. Fox v. Townsend, 152 Cal. 51. Evidence may be received, however, to show that there is only one map in existence which includes the lot in question, and such map may be received in evidence to identify the land. Best v. Wohlford, 144 Cal. 733.

A description "as per map of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Lot 10, Block 12" is not void for uncertainty because there are two maps of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the recorder's office, one entitled "Carmel-by-the-Sea" and the other without name, if both maps show the identical property. It is only where there is a difference between two maps so far as the assessed property is concerned that the question as to which map was intended can arise. Stewart v. Atkinson, 96 Cal.App. 50.

It has become a matter of common knowledge that block books constitute assessment maps in use by all the public offices in matters of taxation of real estate. Schainman v. All Persons, 96 Cal.App. 753.

For maps in aid of description, see also, Reclamation Dist. No. 673 v. Diepenbrock, 168 Cal. 577; Fitzsimons v. Atherton, 162 Cal. 630; Furrey v. Loutz, 162 Cal. 397; Campbell v. Shafer, 162 Cal. 206; Baird v. Monroe, 150 Cal. 560; Miller v. Williams, 135 Cal. 183; Lummer v. Unruh, 25 Cal.App. 97.

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