Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2018

Property Tax Annotations

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Annotation 360.0019

360.0019 Fault. As used in Revenue and Taxation Code section 170 subdivision (a), pertaining to property damaged or destroyed without the assessee's or taxpayer's fault, the term "fault" encompasses acts or omissions involving some degree of willfulness and foreseeability. At a minimum, "fault" means "willful negligence," but not "ordinary negligence." The distinction between ordinary and willful negligence can be illustrated by the example of a house fire caused by a person unknowingly emptying burning cigarette refuse into a waste-basket containing flammable material (ordinary negligence) or caused by a person consciously deciding to smoke in close proximity to an open container of gasoline (willful negligence).

Defining "fault" as "willful negligence" is consistent with the objective of section 170 and is also consistent with judicial construction of federal statutory provisions relating to the analogous federal income tax casualty loss deduction. OAG 5/14/1975 (No. CV 74/257); C 4/25/1996; LTA 9/11/1996 (No. 96/59).