Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2018

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 14. Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights

Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights

Part 14. Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights*

* Part 14 was added by Stats. 1993, Chap. 387, in effect January 1, 1994.

5900. Title. This part shall be known and may be cited as "The Morgan Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights."

5901. Findings and declarations. The Legislature finds and declares as follows:

(a) Taxes are a sensitive point of contact between citizens and their government, and disputes and disagreements often arise as a result of misunderstandings or miscommunications.

(b) The dissemination of information to taxpayers regarding property taxes and the promotion of enhanced understanding regarding the property tax system will improve the relationship between taxpayers and the government.

(c) The proper assessment and collection of property taxes is essential to local government and the health and welfare of the citizens of this state.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature to promote the proper assessment and collection of property taxes throughout this state by advancing, to the extent feasible, uniform practices of property tax appraisal and assessment.

Back to top

5902. Administration. This part shall be administered by the board.

5903. "Advocate." "Advocate" as used in this part means the "Property Taxpayers' Advocate" designated pursuant to Section 5904.

5904. Property Taxpayers' Advocate; responsibilities. (a) The board shall designate a "Property Taxpayers' Advocate." The advocate shall be responsible for reviewing the adequacy of procedures for both of the following:

(1) The distribution of information regarding property tax assessment matters between and among the board, assessors, and taxpayers.

(2) The prompt resolution of board, assessor, and taxpayer inquiries, and taxpayer complaints and problems.

(b) The advocate shall be designated by, and report directly to, the executive officer of the board. The advocate shall at least annually report to the executive officer on the adequacy of existing procedures, or the need for additional or revised procedures, to accomplish the objectives of this part.

(c) Nothing in this part shall be construed to require the board to reassign property tax program responsibilities within its existing organizational structure.

5905. Additional duties. In addition to any other duties imposed by this part, the advocate shall periodically review and report on the adequacy of existing procedures, or the need for additional or revised procedures, with respect to the following:

(a) The development and implementation of educational and informational programs on property tax assessment matters for the benefit of the board and its staff, assessors and their staffs, local boards of equalization and assessment appeals boards, and taxpayers.

(b) The development and availability of property tax informational pamphlets and other written materials that explain, in simple and nontechnical language, all of the following matters:

(1) Taxation of real and personal property in California.

(2) Property tax exemptions.

(3) Supplemental assessments.

(4) Escape assessments.

(5) Assessment procedures.

(6) Taxpayer obligations, responsibilities, and rights.

(7) Obligations, responsibilities, and rights of property tax authorities, including, but not limited to, the board and assessors.

(8) Property tax appeal procedures.

Back to top

5906. Additional duties. (a) The advocate shall undertake, to the extent not duplicative of existing programs, periodic review of property tax statements and other property tax forms prescribed by the board to determine both of the following:

(1) Whether the forms and their instructions promote or discourage taxpayer compliance.

(2) Whether the forms or questions therein are necessary and germane to the assessment function.

(b) The advocate shall undertake the review of taxpayer complaints and identify areas of recurrent conflict between taxpayers and assessment officers. This review shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:

(1) The adequacy and timeliness of board and assessor responses to taxpayers' written complaints and requests for information.

(2) The adequacy and timeliness of corrections of the assessment roll, cancellations of taxes, or issuances of refunds after taxpayers have provided legitimate and adequate information demonstrating the propriety of the corrections, cancellations, or refunds, including, but not limited to, the filing of documents required by law to claim these corrections, cancellations, or refunds.

(3) The timeliness, fairness, and accessibility of hearings and decisions by the board, county boards of equalization, or assessment appeals boards where taxpayers have filed timely applications for assessment appeal.

(4) The application of penalties and interest to property tax assessments or property tax bills where the penalty or interest is a direct result of the assessor's failure to request specified information or a particular method of reporting information, or where the penalty or interest is a direct result of the taxpayer's good faith reliance on written advice provided by the assessor or the board.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify any other provision of law or the California Code of Regulations regarding requirements or limitations with respect to the correction of the assessment roll, the cancellation of taxes, the issuance of refunds, or the imposition of penalties or interest.

(d) The board shall annually conduct a public hearing, soliciting the input of assessors, other local agency representatives, and taxpayers, to address the advocate's annual report pursuant to Section 5904, and to identify means to correct any problems identified in that report.

5907. Employee evaluations. No state or local officer or employees responsible for the appraisal or assessment of property shall be evaluated based solely upon the dollar value of assessments enrolled or property taxes collected. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an official or employee from being evaluated based upon the propriety and application of the methodology used in arriving at a value determination.

Back to top

5908. Educational assistance. Upon request of a county assessor or assessors, the advocate, in conjunction with any other programs of the board, shall assist assessors in their efforts to provide education and instruction to their staffs and local taxpayers for purposes of promoting taxpayer understanding and compliance with the property tax laws, and, to the extent feasible, statewide uniformity in the application of property tax laws.

5909. Written rulings. (a) County assessors may respond to a taxpayer's written request for a written ruling as to property tax consequences of an actual or planned particular transaction, or as to the property taxes liability of a specified property. For purposes of statewide uniformity, county assessors may consult with board staff prior to issuing a ruling under this subdivision. Any ruling issued under this subdivision shall notify the taxpayer that the ruling represents the county's current interpretation of applicable law and does not bind the county, except as provided in subdivision (b).

(b) Where a taxpayer's failure to timely report information or pay amounts of tax directly results from the taxpayer's reasonable reliance on the county assessor's written ruling under subdivision (a), the taxpayer shall be relieved of any penalties, or interest assessed or accrued, with respect to property taxes not timely paid as a direct result of the taxpayer's reasonable reliance. A taxpayer's failure to timely report property values or to make a timely payment of property taxes shall be considered to directly result from the taxpayer's reasonable reliance on a written ruling from the assessor under subdivision (a) only if all of the following conditions are met:

(1) The taxpayer has requested in writing that the assessor advise as to the property tax consequences of a particular transaction or as to the property taxes with respect to a particular property, and fully described all relevant facts and circumstances pertaining to that transaction or property.

(2) The assessor has responded in writing and specifically stated the property tax consequences of the transaction or the property taxes with respect to the property.

5910. Report to board. The advocate shall, on or before January 1, 1994, make specific recommendations to the board with respect to standardizing interest rates applicable to escape assessments and refunds of property taxes, and statutes of limitations, so as to place property taxpayers on an equal basis with taxing authorities.

5911. Legislative intent. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this part to ensure that:

(a) Taxpayers are provided fair and understandable explanations of their rights and duties with respect to property taxation, prompt resolution of legitimate questions and appeals regarding their property taxes, and prompt corrections when errors have occurred in property tax assessments.

(b) The board designate a taxpayer's advocate position independent of, but not duplicative of, the board's existing property tax programs, to be specifically responsible for reviewing property tax matters from the viewpoint of the taxpayer, and to review and report on, and to recommend to the board's executive officer any necessary changes with respect to, property tax matters as described in this part.

Back to top