Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2018

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 5. Collection of Taxes

CHAPTER 5. Suit for Taxes

Chapter 5. Suit for Taxes

3002. Assessee in another county. If an assessee of property on the unsecured roll moves to another county, the official collecting taxes on the unsecured roll in the county in which the property was assessed may employ an attorney to sue for and collect the taxes in such official's name. This does not relieve such official from any duties.

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.

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3004. Evidence. In any suit for taxes the roll, or a duly certified copy of any entry, showing the assessee, the property, and unpaid taxes or assessments, is prima facie evidence of the plaintiff's right to recover.

3005. Costs. When a civil action is brought by the tax collector to recover delinquent unsecured property taxes, the sheriff or marshal shall specify, when the summons or process is returned, the costs which he or she would ordinarily be entitled to for that service and those costs shall be made a part of any judgment recovered by the tax collector and on payment or satisfaction of the judgment the costs shall be deposited in the county general fund.

History.—Added by Stats. 1955, p. 840, in effect September 7, 1955. Stats. 1974, Ch. 166, p. 323, in effect January 1, 1975, deleted "assessor or" before "tax collector" in both places. Stats. 1996, Ch. 872, in effect January 1, 1997, substituted "sheriff or marshal" for "sheriff, marshal, or constable" after "property taxes, the"; substituted "he or she" for "he" after "the costs which"; substituted "that service and those costs" for "such service and such costs" after "entitled to for"; and substituted "the costs" for "such costs" after "of the judgment".

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3006. Taxes not yet delinquent. (a) The tax collector may commence an action for recovery of taxes on property on the unsecured roll prior to the date such taxes become delinquent if, in the tax collector's opinion, it is necessary to do so in order to insure payment of such taxes because of the financial condition of the assessee or for other appropriate reasons. The tax collector shall file a declaration under penalty of perjury, as part of the complaint, setting forth the grounds and necessity for the action prior to the delinquency date. The tax collector shall also be entitled, upon application, to an ex parte writ of attachment of so much of the assessee's property as is necessary to satisfy the taxes on the basis of the tax collector's declaration.

(b) An assessee named in an action under subdivision (a) may file with the court a bond sufficient to pay the taxes alleged due in the complaint and petition the court to release the attached property.

(c) If the court determines that the action and writ of attachment prior to the delinquency date are unnecessary, the court shall require the county to pay all costs of suit, including attorney's fees, incurred by the assessee, and the sureties shall be released from liability on the bond. The court may, in its discretion, require payment of the taxes in question as a condition of releasing the sureties. In that case, however, the assessee shall be entitled to interest from the county at the rate of 7 percent per annum from the date the taxes are paid until the date such taxes would have become delinquent.

(d) In any case where an action by the tax collector under this section is dismissed and the assessee is not required by the court to pay the taxes as a condition of dismissal and subsequent to the delinquency date the taxes remain unpaid, the county shall be entitled to recover, in addition to the taxes and all penalties and costs accruing thereon, all costs ordered by the court to be paid by the county to the assessee in the first action and all costs incurred by the county in any subsequent actions of the county in collecting the taxes.

(e) In all actions and proceedings brought under this section, all courts in which the actions and proceedings are pending shall, upon the request of any party thereto, give the actions and proceedings precedence over all other civil actions and proceedings, except actions and proceedings to which special precedence is otherwise given by law, in the matter of setting them for hearing or trial, and in their hearing or trial, to the end that all the actions and proceedings shall be quickly heard and determined.

History.—Added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 908, p. 1918, in effect January 1, 1975. Stats. 1982, Ch. 517, in effect January 1, 1983, in addition to making several grammatical corrections throughout the section, substituted "the tax collector's" for "his" before "opinion" in the first sentence of, and before "declaration" in the third sentence of subdivision (a); deleted "or cash in lieu of" before "sufficient" in subdivision (b); substituted "sureties . . . bond" for "assessee shall be entitled to have his bond exonerated or his cash deposit returned" after "and the" in the first sentence of, and substituted "releasing the sureties" for "exonerating the bond or releasing the cash deposit" after "condition of" in the second sentence of subdivision (c); and deleted "such" before "dismissal" in subdivision (d).

Note.—Section 414 of Stats. 1982, Ch. 517, provided that if a bond or undertaking is given before January 1, 1983:

(a) The bond or undertaking remains in effect notwithstanding the repeal or amendment by this act of all or part of the statute pursuant to which the bond or undertaking is given.

(b) Except to the extent provided in Section 995.020 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the law governing the bond or undertaking is the law applicable to the bond or undertaking immediately before January 1, 1983, and for this purpose the law is continued in effect as it then existed.

3007. Statute of limitations. Civil actions for delinquent taxes or assessments pursuant to Section 3003 shall be commenced within three years of the date upon which unsecured taxes became delinquent. The limitation period of this section shall be tolled for any and all periods during which a civil action described by this section is prohibited by federal bankruptcy laws or rules, or by a court order.

History.—Added by Stats. 1991, Ch. 532, in effect January 1, 1992.

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