Laws, Regulations & Annotations
Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2015
Additional Government Code Provisions
Provisions Relating to Local Tax Levy
DIVISION 3. FINANCIAL PROVISIONS
Chapter 1. Budget And Tax Levy
Article 5. Tax Levy*
29100. Designation of rate. (a) On or before October 3 of each year, the board shall adopt by resolution the rates of taxes on the secured roll, not to exceed the 1-percent limitation specified in Article XIII A of the Constitution and Sections 93 and 100 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. For voter-approved indebtedness, the board shall adopt the rates on the secured roll by determining the percentage of full value of property on the secured roll legally subject to support the annual debt requirement. Each rate shall be such as will produce the amount determined as necessary to be raised by taxation on the secured roll after due allowance for delinquency, anticipated changes to the roll, disputed tax revenues anticipated to be impounded pursuant to Section 26906.1, amounts subject to the Community Redevelopment Law (Part 1 (commencing with Section 33000) of Division 24 of the Health and Safety Code), and other available financing sources. The board may adopt a rate for voter-approved indebtedness as will produce an amount determined as appropriate for necessary reserves.
(b) For purposes of this section, "an amount appropriate for necessary reserves" shall be limited to an amount sufficient to accommodate the county's anticipated annual cashflow needs for servicing the county's voter-approved debt. The funds reserved may service only the debt for which the extraordinary rate is levied. All interest earned on the amount deposited in the nonspendable, restricted, committed, or assigned fund balance account shall accrue to the same account.
History.—Stats. 1978, Ch. 1207, in effect January 1, 1979, operative January 1, 1981, substituted "by determining the percentage of full value on the secured roll required to raise the revenue authorized by this section" for "designating the number of cents or fraction thereof, in the rate for each fund on each one hundred dollars ($100) of taxable value of property" in the first sentence. Stats. 1983, Ch. 1211, in effect January 1, 1984, added "and anticipated changes to the roll." after "delinquency" in the second sentence of the first paragraph and in the first sentence of the second paragraph.Stats. 1985, Ch. 751, effective January 1, 1986, added "the first business day of" after "on or before", deleted "1st" after "September", substituted "adopt by resolution" for "fix" after "board shall", added "not to exceed the 1-percent limitation . . . adopt the rates on the secured roll" after "rates of taxes on the secured roll", added "of property" after "full value", substituted "legally subject to support the annual debt requirement." for "require to raise the revenue authorized by this section" after "on the secured roll" in first sentence; substituted "Each" at the beginning of second sentence, substituted "the amount determined . . . the secured roll" for "," after "will produce", substituted "," for "and" after "delinquency", deleted "and as applicable, after due allowance for" after "changes to the roll," and substituted "amounts subject to . . . financing sources" for "of this code, the amount determined as necessary to be raised by taxation on the secured roll" after "Section 26906.1" in the first paragraph, and deleted the former second, third, and fourth paragraphs. Stats. 1990, Ch. 134, in effect June 12, 1990, added second paragraph. Stats. 1990, Ch. 1538, in effect September 30, 1990, substituted "Part 1 . . . Division 24" for "Section 33000 and following" after "subject to" in the second sentence, and added the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth sentences in the first paragraph. Stats. 2009, Ch. 332 (SB 113), in effect January 1, 2010, designated the former first paragraph as subdivision (a), substituted "October 3" for "the first business day of September" after "On or before", and substituted "; for" for ". For" after "Code" in the first sentence therein, and created the second sentence with the balance of the former first sentence after "Code", added "the Community Redevelopment Law" after "amounts subject to" and added parenthesis around "Part 1 … Safety Code" in the third sentence therein; designated the former second paragraph as subdivision (b) and substituted "cashflow" for "cash-flow" after "anticipated annual" in the first sentence therein; and deleted the former third paragraph, which provided that "The board may, by resolution, extend on a permanent basis or for a limited period the date specified by this section from the first business day of September to October 3. Stats. 2011, Ch.382 (SB 194), in effect January 1, 2012, substituted "funds reserved" for "reserve" after "The", substituted "nonspendable, restricted, committed, or assigned fund balance account" for "necessary reserve" after "deposited in the" and substituted "same account" for "necessary reserve" after "accrue to the" in the second sentence of subdivision (b).
(A) TAXING POWER
Nature of tax levy.—The acts of a board of supervisors in making a tax levy are ministerial and not judicial, therefore, mandamus and not prohibition is the proper action to compel performance. Hellman v. City of Los Angeles, 147 Cal. 653; Robinson v. Board of Supervisors, 43 Cal. 353. Mandamus will also lie to compel the auditor to enter the tax rate as fixed by the supervisors. Morton v. Broderick, 118 Cal. 474.
When power exists.—A political subdivision not in existence on the date when the taxable status of property becomes fixed (first Monday in march) may not levy a tax for the ensuing fiscal year. East Bay Municipal Utility Dist. v. Garrison, 191 Cal. 680.
Limitation of power in charter.—The powers and duties of county boards of supervisors are subject to and controlled by general laws (see Subdivision 4 of Section 7½ of Article XI of the Constitution). Hence a provision in a county charter limiting the tax rate to be fixed by the board of supervisors is invalid. A county may not incapacitate itself to perform functions as an agency of the State. Wilkinson v. Lund, 102 Cal.App. 767.
(B) VALIDITY OF LEVY
Informalities.—The rule of strict construction in tax matters as applicable to tax levies means that the validity of the levy must be determined solely from a consideration of the language of the board in making the levy without resort to extraneous evidence to prove the intention of the board; errors are to be disregarded if from a consideration and construction of the entire order they appear to be merely clerical. Deets v. Hall, 163 Cal. 249.
Only provisions of tax statutes enacted for the benefit of the taxpayer are mandatory, while provisions enacted to secure the orderly conduct of business are merely directory. Thus a corrective resolution of the board of supervisors, made subsequent to its resolution approving and adopting the budget, for the purpose of including in the budget certain disputed items, which the board had previously agreed should be included therein but which had been omitted, was not invalid under the time limit provisions of this section. Ryan v. Byram, 4 Cal.2d 596.
The omission of the words "cents" from the various items of a levy does not invalidate the levy when the order of the board fixing the rate clearly indicates what is meant by the figures and decimal points. Lake County v. Sulphur Bank etc. Co., 66 Cal. 17.
A tax is not void because the record of the board of supervisors as to the making of the levy is not signed by the clerk of the board. People v. Eureka Lake etc. Co., 48 Cal. 143.
Judicial construction.—Where the order reads "exclusive of property within incorporated cities," but it is apparent from a consideration of the entire order that such property was to be included, subsequent tax proceedings whereby the levy is actually made upon all property inclusive of that within incorporated cities, according to law, are not void because of the clerical error in the original order. Bell v. Fee Title Co., 69 Cal.App. 437.
However, when a levy was made for school bonds for the year 1898 and no bonds existed for that year, but there were such bonds for the year 1899, the result was a levy for a nonexisting fund to meet a nonexisting liability, and the levy was void, as the court can indulge in no presumption of intention not distinctly expressed in the order. Hellman v. City of Los Angeles, 147 Cal. 653.
Necessity of public obligation.—Although there is nothing in the Constitution or statutes prohibiting the levy of a tax for the payment of contemplated future expenses, a tax levy for bonds which are unsold and for which there is no contract of sale is forbidden by the general law, since there is no funded obligation. It is only for those bonds which have become an obligation of the government that a tax may be levied. Connelly v. San Francisco, 164 Cal. 101.
Partial invalidity.—If the tax contains an illegal item, such item will not invalidate the entire levy if the levy is so made that the illegal item may be separated form the other items. De Fremery v. Austin, 53 Cal. 380. But see Josselyn v. San Francisco, 168 Cal. 436, holding that where a special levy must be founded on the existence of a "great public necessity and emergency" in order to be valid, and the levy in question was void because no such emergency existed. It could not be upheld on the ground that the amount thereof, added to the amount of the general levy after the exclusion of an invalid item, would not exceed in the aggregate the valid limit.
As to suspension of tax limit for public emergency, see also San Chirstina etc. Co. v. San Francisco, 167 Cal. 762; Spreckels v. San Francisco, 76 Cal.App. 267.
Special taxes.—Exclusion of one of the component elementary school districts in fixing the levy for a union high school district, so that the remaining elementary districts bear proportionately the taxes of the district excluded, renders the levy in the district subject to the high tax invalid, and a purchaser at a tax sale acquires no title. Redman v. Warden, 92 Cal.App. 636.
No invalidity from excess.—The computation of a body making the levy of an ad valorem tax must at all times be an approximation. Thus, when the State Board of Equalization was authorized to levy a tax raising the sum of $1,250,000, and by too liberal allowance for delinquency, fixed a rate raising $1,270,000, the levy was none the less valid, and a subsequent tax sale thereunder was not made void because of the excess. In re Rogers, 91 Cal.App. 726.
Waiver of error by failure to appear.—A taxpayer waives an error in the computation of the tax rate by failing to appear at the budget hearing and enter an objection to it. City of Compton v. Boland, 26 Cal.2d 310; Strong v. Mack, 64 Cal.App.2d 739; Zaslow v. Kroenert, 29 Cal.2d 541; and Kroenert v. Zaslow, 29 Cal.2d 878, involving a failure to anticipate revenue from taxes on solvent credits and other personal property (Cf. Gottstein v. Gray, 66 Cal.App.2d 587, holding that a failure to consider taxes on unsecured personal property violated the constitutional requirement of uniformity and rendered the levy void); Griffith Co. v. Belchez, 76 Cal.App.2d 155, involving failure to consider revenue from redemption of real property and collections of unsecured personal property taxes; Wall v. State of California, 73 Cal.App.2d 838, involving objections to appropriations on the ground that they might be or might have been illegally expended.
* Unless otherwise noted all provisions herein were added by Stats. 1963, p. 2708, in effect September 20, 1963.