Laws, Regulations & Annotations
Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017
Revenue and Taxation Code
Part 3. Equalization
Chapter 1. Equalization by County Board of Equalization
Article 1. Generally
1603. Applications. (a) A reduction in an assessment on the local roll shall not be made unless the party affected or his or her agent makes and files with the county board a verified, written application showing the facts claimed to require the reduction and the applicant's opinion of the full value of the property. The form for the application shall be prescribed by the State Board of Equalization.
(b) (1) The application shall be filed within the time period from July 2 to September 15, inclusive. An application that is mailed and postmarked September 15 or earlier within that period shall be deemed to have been filed within the time period beginning July 2 and continuing through and including September 15.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), if the taxpayer does not receive the notice of assessment described in Section 619 at least 15 calendar days prior to the deadline to file the application described in this subdivision, the party affected, or his or her agent, may file an application within 60 days of receipt of the notice of assessment or within 60 days of the mailing of the tax bill, whichever is earlier, along with an affidavit declaring under penalty of perjury that the notice was not timely received.
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the last day of the filing period shall be extended to November 30 in the case of an assessee or party affected with respect to all property located in a county where the county assessor does not provide, by August 1, a notice, as described in Section 619, to all assessees of real property on the local secured roll of the assessed value of their real property as it shall appear or does appear on the completed local roll, including the annual increases in assessed value caused solely by increases in the valuation of property that reflect the inflation rate, not to exceed 2 percent, pursuant to the authority of subdivision (b) of Section 2 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution.
(A) The county assessor shall notify the clerk of the county board of equalization and the county tax collector by April 1 of each year as to whether the notice specified in this paragraph will be provided by August 1.
(B) The clerk shall certify the last day of the filing period and shall immediately notify the State Board of Equalization as to whether the last day of the filing period for the county will be September 15 or November 30.
(C) The State Board of Equalization shall maintain a statewide listing of the time period to file an application in each county.
(D) The provisions of Section 621 may not be substituted as a means of providing the notice specified in this paragraph.
(4) If a final filing date specified in this subdivision falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, an application that is mailed and postmarked on the next business day shall be deemed to have been filed within the requisite time period specified in this subdivision. If on any final filing date specified in this subdivision, the county's offices are closed for business prior to 5 p.m. or for that entire day, that day shall be considered a legal holiday for purposes of this section.
(c) The application may be filed within 12 months following the month in which the assessee is notified of the assessment, if the party affected or his or her agent and the assessor stipulate that there is an error in the assessment as the result of the exercise of the assessor's judgment in determining the full cash value of the property and a written stipulation as to the full cash value and assessed value is filed in accordance with Section 1607.
(d) Upon the recommendation of the assessor and the clerk of the county board of equalization, the board of supervisors may adopt a resolution providing that an application may be filed within 60 days of the mailing of the notice of the assessor's response to a request for reassessment pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 51, if all of the following conditions are met:
(1) The request for reassessment was submitted in writing to the assessor in the form prescribed by the State Board of Equalization and includes all information that is prescribed by the State Board of Equalization.
(2) The request for reassessment was made on or before the immediately preceding March 15.
(3) The assessor's response to the request for reassessment was mailed on or after September 1 of the calendar year in which the request for reassessment was made.
(4) The assessor did not reduce the assessment in question in the full amount as requested.
(5) The application for changed assessment is filed on or before December 31 of the year in which the request for reassessment was filed.
(6) The application for reduction in assessment is accompanied by a copy of the assessor's response to the request for reassessment.
(e) In the form provided for making an application pursuant to this section, there shall be a notice that written findings of facts of the local equalization hearing will be available upon written request at the requester's expense and, if not so requested, the right to those written findings is waived. The form shall provide appropriate space for the applicant to request written findings of facts as provided by Section 1611.5.
(f) The form provided for making an application pursuant to this section shall contain the following language in the signature block:
I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing and all information hereon, including any accompanying statements or documents, is true, correct, and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief and that I am (1) the owner of the property or the person affected (i.e., a person having a direct economic interest in the payment of the taxes on that property— "The Applicant," (2) an agent authorized by the applicant under Item 2 of this application, or (3) an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of California, State Bar No. ____, who has been retained by the applicant and has been authorized by that person to file this application.
(g) The clerk of a county board of equalization may accept an electronically filed application for changed assessment containing an electronic signature if all of the following criteria are met:
(1) The application complies with all other requirements for filing the application.
(2) The electronic signature is accompanied by the certification described in subdivision (f).
(3) The electronic signature is authenticated in a manner that is approved by the county board of supervisors, which manner may include, but is not limited to, the use of personal identification numbers the clerk has assigned to applicants.
History.—Stats. 1966, p. 672 (First Extra Session), in effect October 6, 1966, first operative for the 1967–68 assessment year, added "and the applicants opinion of the full cash value of the property" and the last sentence. Stats. 1967, p. 1868, in effect November 8, 1967, substituted ". . . July 2 and August 26." after "between" in the last sentence. Stats. 1968, p. 1461, in effect November 13, 1968, divided the section into subdivisions (a) and (b). Stats. 1969, p. 2096, in effect November 10, 1969, completely revised subdivision (b) and added subdivision (c). Stats 1970, p. 527, in effect June 29, 1970, substituted "second" for "first" in subdivision (b) and added phrase "Except as provided in Section 1760," to subdivision (c). Stats 1971, p. 761, in effect March 4, 1972, added subdivision (d). Stats. 1974, Ch. 311, p. 612, in effect January 1, 1975, renumbered the section which was formerly numbered 1607; substituted "full value" for "full cash value" in subdivision (a); added subdivision (b); relettered the former subdivision (b) as subdivision (c); relettered the former subdivision (c) as subdivision (d), and substituted "In all other counties" for "Except as provided in Section 1760, in the case of a county other than one described in subdivision (b)" therein; and relettered the former subdivision (d) as subdivision (e), and substituted "1611.5" for "1605.5" therein. Stats. 1976, Ch. 768, p. 1808, in effect January 1, 1977, substituted "within the time period beginning July 2 and continuing through and including September 15" for "between July 2 and September 15" in the first and second sentences of subdivision (c). Stats. 1977, Ch. 1010, in effect July 1, 1978, added second sentence of subdivision (a). Stats. 1978, Ch. 214 and Ch. 353, in effect on June 8, 1978, and July 4, 1978, respectively, changed the various filing dates based on the size of the counties to a single filing date. Stats. 1979, Ch. 242, in effect July 10, 1979, added the third sentence to subdivision (b). Stats. 1987, Ch. 498, in effect January 1, 1988, added "or her" after "his" in the first sentence, and substituted "the" for "such" after "for" in the second sentence of subdivision (a); substituted "that" for "such" after "earlier within" in the second sentence of subdivision (b); added subdivision (c); and relettered former subdivision (c) as (d). Stats. 1989, Ch. 481, in effect January 1, 1990, substituted the third sentence of subdivision (b) for the former third sentence which extended the September 15 deadline to October 1 for the 1979–80 fiscal year. Stats. 1997, Ch. 941 (SB 542), in effect January 1, 1998, added paragraph designation (1) and substituted "from July 2 to September 15, inclusive." for "beginning July 2 and continuing through and including September 15." after "time period" in the first sentence of paragraph (1), added paragraph (2), and numbered the former third sentence as paragraph (3) of subdivision (b); added subdivision (d); relettered the former subdivision (d) as (e) and substituted "those" for "such" after "right to" in the first sentence therein; and added subdivision (f). Stats. 2001, Ch. 238 (AB 645), in effect January 1, 2002, deleted former paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) which provided that "If September 15 falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, an application that is mailed and postmarked on the next business day shall be deemed to have been filed within 'the time period beginning July 2 and continuing through and including September 15.' If on the dates specified in this paragraph, the county's offices are closed for business prior to 5 p.m. or for that entire day, that day shall be considered a legal holiday for purposes of this section.", renumbered former paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) as paragraph (2) and added "Notwithstanding paragraph (1)," before "if" in the first sentence therein, added paragraphs (3) and (4) to subdivision (b), and deleted "However," before "The" in the first sentence of subdivision (c). Stats. 2002, Ch. 775 (SB 2092), in effect January 1, 2003, added "or party affected" after "of an assessee" and substituted "all property located in a county . . . Article XIII A of the California Constitution." for "real property on the local secured roll, if both of the following are true: (A) A notice is not required to be provided to that assessee with respect to that real property under Section 619. (B) The county assessor does not provide, by August 1, notice to that assessee of the assessed value of the assessee's real property as it shall appear, or does appear, on the completed local secured roll." after "with respect to" in the first sentence of paragraph (3) in subdivision (b) and added new subparagraphs (A), (B), (C), and (D), therein and added "an" after "provided for making" in the first sentence of subdivision (e). Stats. 2007, Ch. 195 (AB 1042), in effect January 1, 2008, added subdivision (g).
Note.—Sections 28020–28030 of the Government Code, as amended by Stats. 1971, p. 2299, provide that counties of the first through ninth class are Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Bernardino, Sacramento, and Contra Costa Counties, respectively.
However, Sec. 61 of Stats. 1971, p. 2319, also provides that it is not the intention of the Legislature to change the law applicable to any county by reason of this classification. Such law shall continue to remain applicable to such county on the basis of the 1960 federal census except as the Legislature may by law otherwise expressly provide.
Note.—Section 3 of Stats. 2001, Ch. 238 (AB 645) provided that notwithstanding Section 17610 of the Government Code, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code. If the statewide cost of the claim for reimbursement does not exceed one million dollars ($1,000,000), reimbursement shall be made from the State Mandates Claims Fund.
Construction.—This section and Section 1605 contemplate not only a reduction in the value of the property to be taxed, but also a reduction in the rate applicable to the taxable property. San Diego County v. Lafayette Steel Co., 164 Cal.App.3d 690.
Sufficiency of application.—An application for a reduction in an assessment is not inadequate by reason of the fact that it merely states as its ground "unequal value" (Los Angeles County v. Ransohoff, 24 Cal.App.2d 238) or "excessive valuation." Bandini Estate Company v. Los Angeles County, 28 Cal.App.2d 224. An application for reduction identifying the number of the parcel for which equalization is sought is sufficient to place before the board not only the assessment for the parcel for the current year but also escape assessments for the parcel for prior years made in the current year. Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Orange County, 187 Cal.App.3d 1141. Cf. Rittersbacher v. Board of Supervisors, 220 Cal. 535, and De Mille v. Los Angeles County, 25 Cal.App.2d 506, in which the applications were held insufficient. While this section does not require technical rules of pleading, the taxpayer did not give sufficient notice of its intent to challenge original real property assessments where its applications for reduction of escape assessments were for personal property and fixtures. Helene Curtis, Inc. v. Assessment Appeals Board, 76 Cal.App.4th 124.
Evidentiary facts are not required in the application and amendments are permitted after the filing date so long as they do not request relief additional to or different from that originally requested. Midstate Theatres, Inc. v. Board of Supervisors, 46 Cal.App.3d 204.
An application for a reduction in an assessment filed pursuant to Section 1603 shall also constitute a sufficient claim for refund if the applicant states in the application that the application is intended to constitute a claim for refund. County of Los Angeles v. Raytheon Co., 159 Cal.App.4th 27.
Amendment of application.—Although the statutes governing local equalization proceedings neither permit nor prohibit amendment of applications, Property Tax Rule 305(e) prohibits a substantive amendment of an application after expiration of statutory filing deadlines. Helene Curtis, Inc. v. Assessment Appeals Board, 76 Cal.App.4th 124.
Does not waive exemption.—The fact that an owner files an application for a reduction does not bar a claim for refund on the ground that the property in question is exempt from taxation, at least when the refund claim is filed prior to the appearance before the board. Pasadena Playhouse Assn. v. Los Angeles County, 69 Cal.App.2d 611.
Reduction by county board without application.—The fact that the assessed value of certain property as reduced by allegedly illegal actions of a county board, including ordering the reductions without verified applications from the persons affected, does not give another taxpayer whose property was not similarly reduced a cause of action even though his taxes were thereby increased where the taxpayer did not allege or prove that his property as similar in character or situation to the property reduced, or that his property was overvalued, or that the reduced property was undervalued by the reductions. Crothers v. Santa Cruz County, 151 Cal.App.2d 219.
Application not required.—Ordinarily, to obtain a reduced assessment, the taxpayer must file an assessment appeal in accordance with this section and Section 80. However, after a property owner has been granted a reduction under Section 51, that section dispenses with the usual requirement to file an assessment appeal. El Dorado Palm Springs, Ltd. v. Board of Supervisors, 104 Cal.App.4th 1262.
Application Required.—Pursuant to authority granted under California Constitution Article XIII, Section 33, the Legislature has statutorily established a three-step process for handling challenges to local property tax assessments and refund requests. A taxpayer seeking judicial relief must first exhaust his remedies before the administrative body empowered initially to correct the error. In the local property tax context, application of the exhaustion principle means that a taxpayer ordinarily may not file or pursue a court action for a tax refund without first applying to the local board of equalization for assessment reduction under Revenue and Taxation Code Section 1603 and filing an administrative tax refund claim under Revenue and Taxation Code Section 5097. For purposes of the exhaustion requirement, the filing of a refund claim under Section 5097 generally does not excuse a taxpayer's failure first to file with the local board of equalization an application for assessment reduction under Section 1603. The third and final step in the process is the filing of an action in superior court pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code Section 5140. Steinhart v. County of Los Angeles (2010) 47 Cal. 4th 1298.
Classification error.—Where taxpayer claimed leasehold improvements to have been erroneously classified as unsecured personal property he must first seek relief from the board of equalization before bringing court action. Citizens' Federal Savings & Loan Ass'n v. City & County of San Francisco, 202 Cal.App.2d 358.
Third-party applications.—There is no law authorizing the filing of a third-party application with an Assessment Appeals Board to increase the assessment of another person's property. Granting such a hearing is entirely within the discretion of the board as a part of its power to equalize on its own motion assessments of property within the county, Stevens v. Fox Realty Corp., 23 Cal.App.3d 199.
Since third-party requests are discretionary with the board, such requests are not required as an administrative remedy to be exhausted before judicial relief can be sought. TRIM, Inc. v. Monterey County, 86 Cal.App.3d 539.
Application filed by lessee.—Where a lessee under a 55-year lease filed an action against the county seeking a refund on property taxes paid, the Court of Appeal concluded that the lessee had standing to pursue the refund claim under Sections 469(b)(3), 1603(f), and 5140 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. As a tenant under a long-term lease that extended over 35 years and the party who paid the property taxes for the years at issue, the lessee was considered the beneficial owner of the property for property tax purposes and an affected party. Los Angeles County v. Raytheon Co., 159 Cal.App.4th 27.