Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 2. Assessment

CHAPTER 1. Taxation Base

Article 1. Taxable and Exempt Property

Section 201

201. Taxable property. All property in this State, not exempt under the laws of the United States or of this State, is subject to taxation under this code.

Construction.—This section constitutes statutory authority for taxation on an "average presence" basis. Express statutory authorization for the lien-date structure of property taxation does not preclude other fair and reasonable methods of assessment. Sea-Land Service, Inc. v. Alameda County, 12 Cal.3d 772.

Religious literature.—The imposition of a nondiscriminatory personal property tax on religious books and pamphlets held in a warehouse by a corporation engaged exclusively in spreading the doctrines of a religious organization is not unconstitutional as an infringement on freedom of religion or freedom of the press guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Inc. v. Los Angeles County, 181 F.2d 739, cert. denied 340 U.S. 820.

Possessory Interests.—The taxpayer’s right of possession under the ground lease, which afforded the taxpayer an exclusive right to store his aircraft and equipment on the leased premises, was sufficiently independent of the interests retained by Santa Monica to constitute a taxable possessory interest in lease. The court further held that whether the hangar was a taxable improvement on tax-exempt land was an issue of fact that precluded summary judgment with respect to the hangar. Seibold v. County of Los Angeles (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 674.

Possessory interests in personal property.—This section and Article XIII, Section 1, are controlled by constitutional and statutory provisions dealing expressly with personal property and interests therein. General Dynamics Corp. v. Los Angeles County, 51 Cal.2d 59.

Estoppel.—On appeal of a judgment in favor of a cable television company in a proceeding for a writ or mandate by a county to order the county assessment appeals board to set aside its decision that the company's cable television franchises could not be taxed, the county assessor's earlier assertions that the company's possessory interests should not be separately assessed and that its franchises had no value apart from its tangible property did not preclude review of this issue. The government cannot be estopped from collecting taxes because of an administrative official's erroneous ruling, and an assessor's duty to assure uniformity in taxation bestows upon him the power to collect taxes due retroactively. Stanislaus County v. Assessment Appeals Board, 213 Cal.App.3d 1445.