Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 9. Corrections, Cancellations, and Refunds

Chapter 5. Refunds

Article 2. Refund Actions by Taxpayers*

Section 5142

5142. Necessity of refund claim. (a) No action shall be commenced or maintained under this article, except under Section 5148, unless a claim for refund has first been filed pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 5096).

No recovery shall be allowed in any refund action upon any ground not specified in the refund claim.

(b) When the person affected or his or her agent and the assessor stipulate that an application involves only nonvaluation issues, they may file a stipulation with the county board of equalization stating that issues in dispute do not involve valuation questions. To the extent possible, the stipulation shall also indicate the parties' agreement as to the assessment amounts that would result under their respective positions on the issue or issues in dispute. The board shall accept or reject the stipulation, with or without conducting a hearing on the stipulation. The filing of, and the acceptance by the board of, a stipulation shall be deemed compliance with the requirement that the person affected file and prosecute an application for reduction under Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 1601) of Part 3 in order to exhaust administrative remedies. However, the filing of, and the acceptance by the board of, a stipulation under this subdivision shall not excuse or waive the requirement of a timely filing of a claim for refund.

(c) Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to deprive the county board of equalization of jurisdiction over nonvaluation issues in the absence of a contrary stipulation.

History.—Stats. 1987, Ch. 1262, in effect January 1, 1988, added ", except under Section 5148," after "article", and deleted "of this chapter" after "(commencing with Section 5096)" in the first paragraph. Stats. 1993, Ch. 387, in effect January 1, 1994, added subdivision letter "(a)" before "No action" in the first sentence of the first paragraph; substituted "refund" for "such" after "in any" and added "refund" after "in the" in the first sentence of the second paragraph; and added subdivision (b).

Construction.—A claim for refund which stated that the assessor was "departing from established concepts of uniformity" was sufficient to raise an equal protection issue with respect to the appraisal issues under attack. Schoderbek v. Carlson, 152 Cal.App.3d 1027. Taxpayer's use of the standard refund claim form provided by the county, attachment of a letter wherein county counsel acknowledged that taxpayer would file appeals or litigate the disputed assessments for the years at issue, and attachment of a document that detailed taxpayer's belief that the assessor's method of base year valuation was incorrect were together, detailed enough to put the county on notice that the claims involved the incorrect method of assessment of the initial base year value of its possessory interest, which is within the purview of Section 51.5. Metropolitan Culinary Services, Inc. v. Los Angeles County, 61 Cal.App.4th 935. A stipulated judgment between a county and a property taxpayer was void to the extent that it retroactively applied a reduction in base-year value resulting from an assessment appeal to assessment years predating the assessment appeal. Subdivision (a)(5) provides that any reduction in assessment made as the result of an appeal under the statute applies for the assessment year in which the appeal is taken and prospectively thereafter. Plaza Hollister Limited Partnership v. San Benito County, 72 Cal.App.4th 1.

Refund Amount.—A taxpayer who files a refund action can recover no more than the amount claimed in his underlying claim for refund. Thus, where taxpayers did not seek a refund based on the lower property values that they had submitted in their applications for reduction in assessments to the assessment appeals board, under this section and Section 5143, they could only file suit to recover, and the trial court could only award, the amount claimed in their claim for refund. Mission Housing Development Company v. San Francisco, 81 Cal.App.4th 522.

Class Action.—Plaintiffs lacked standing to maintain the action where they failed to allege that they had exhausted their administrative remedies by applying for and being denied relief by the county board of equalization or assessment appeals board. The named plaintiffs could have filed a claim for refund on behalf of themselves and on behalf of the members of the class. Schoderbek v. Carlson, 113 Cal.App.3d 1029.

Decisions Under Former Section 5104, Claim for refund required.

Application of section.—An action by a security interest holder to recover taxes paid by it in connection with personal property it had possessed and controlled following default on a security agreement is one for refund of taxes "erroneously or illegally collected", subject to the provision of the section which makes a claim for refund mandatory. Chrysler Credit Corp. v. Ostly, 42 Cal.App.3d 663.

* Article 2 was added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 499, p. 1240, in effect January 1, 1977.