Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 5. Collection of Taxes

CHAPTER 5. Suit for Taxes

Section 3003

3003. Unsecured property. Where delinquent taxes or assessments, including those on personal property, are not a lien on real property sufficient, in the judgment of the tax collector or the board of supervisors, to secure the payment of the taxes or assessments, the county may, in any civil action, sue the taxpayer in its own name, including general partners of a partnership assessee, persons who have assumed the liability to pay the assessed taxes by contract or lease, or those persons who are the alter ego or successor in interest of a corporate assessee, for the recovery of the delinquent taxes or assessments, with penalties and costs. The county seat of the county in which the property was assessed shall be a proper place of trial.

History.—Stats. 1961, p. 2602, in effect September 15, 1961, added "including those on personal property" and "in any civil action, sue the taxpayer." Stats. 1965, p. 2060, in effect September 17, 1965, added second sentence. Stats. 1974, Ch. 166, p. 323, in effect January 1, 1975, substituted "tax collector" for "assessor" in the first sentence. Stats. 1990, Ch. 126, in effect June 11, 1990, added ", including general . . . corporate assessee," after "name" in the first sentence.

Statute of limitations.—Actions under this section are controlled by the three-year period of limitations prescribed by Section 338(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure. The period commences to run at the date of delinquency. Los Angeles County v. Continental Corp., 113 Cal.App.2d 207.

Right of government to intervene.—In an action brought by a county to collect unsecured property taxes levied against a leasehold in land leased by the United States to defendant for construction of family dwelling units for military and civilian personnel under a federal statute consenting to local taxation with a deduction therefrom for payments made by the United States in lieu of taxes, although the outcome would not directly affect the pecuniary interest of the United States, the government may intervene because it does have an interest in sustaining its fiscal policy. San Bernardino County v. Harsh California Corp., 52 Cal.2d 341.

Sufficiency of remedy.—In an action brought in the federal courts to enjoin collection of taxes assessed against a leasehold interest in tax exempt federally owned property, it was determined that California remedies were "plain, speedy and efficient" both under this section and under the claim for refund procedure outlined in Sections 5096–5107, and therefore the state remedies must be exhausted before resort could be had to federal courts according to federal statute. Harsh California Corp. v. San Bernardino County, 262 F.2d 626 (1958).

Exhaustion of administrative remedies.—In an action under this section, taxpayer may not claim the defense of an erroneous assessment due to improper description or over-valuation if he previously failed to petition for relief from the local board of equalization. San Diego County v. Stiles, 268 Cal.App.2d 261.

When cause of action arises.—A county's right to bring an action to recover delinquent taxes on the unsecured roll arises when the taxes become delinquent on September 1, and the delinquent taxpayer must have been a California resident on that date in order for the court to acquire jurisdiction over him pursuant to the statute authorizing service by publication. Ward v. Superior Court, 10 Cal.App.3d 1.