Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2014
 

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 6. Tax Sales

CHAPTER 1. Publication of Delinquent List and Notice of Sale


PART 6. TAX SALES

(A) SUMMARY OF LAW RELATING TO TAX DELINQUENT PROPERTY

The tax collector is required to publish the delinquent list annually, showing all property on which taxes for the fiscal year are unpaid. If the taxes are not thereupon paid, the property, "by operation of law and the declaration of the tax collector," is "sold to the state." (See Section 3436.)

After a period of five years, during which the taxpayer retains the legal title to the property and has the privilege of redeeming it upon payment of the amount due, the property is deeded to the state and is known as "tax-deeded property." Such property is subject to redemption as long as title remains in the state unless the state quiets its title as hereafter described. The tax collector may sell tax-deeded property at public auction, the lowest acceptable bid being the minimum price approved in a resolution of the board of supervisors.

In 1938 provisions for quieting title to tax-deeded property, now contained in Chapter 5, were adopted, under which title to all property in the same county "sold to the state" in the same year may be quieted in a single action to be brought by the district attorney of the county. If no invalidities are found, the final decree quiets the state's title to the property and terminates the right of redemption. Under Chapter 5.7, added in 1941, the owner of tax-sold or tax-deeded property may himself bring an action to test the validity of the tax sale or the tax deed. As to tax-deeded property the time within which an action may be brought under Chapter 5.7 is limited to one year after the execution of the deed by Section 175. In either an action brought by the district attorney or an action brought by the owner, if invalidities are found, proper steps must be taken to correct the same as directed by the court, and the owner then has one year, in the former type of action, and six months in the case of an action brought by himself, after the interlocutory decree becomes a final judgment, to pay the amount of taxes due upon the property. No interest or penalties are required to be paid. Chapter 10, added in 1943, authorizes an action by a purchaser of tax-deeded property to determine adverse claims thereto.

State lands upon which the full purchase price has not been paid and which have been deeded to the state for delinquent taxes are again subject to entry and sale. (See Public Resources Code Section 7993.) For a summary of the different methods of enforcing the collection of taxes by sale of real property in effect during various periods from 1850 to 1936, see 1936 Revenue Laws, p. 179.

(B) DECISIONS OF GENERAL APPLICATION

Constitutionality.—The provisions of the California law relating to tax sales are not violative of due process, in view of the opportunity to be heard as to the fairness of the original assessment, the notice provided with respect to both the sale to the state and the sale at public auction, and the five-year period of redemption allowed. It is immaterial that either the value of the property or the amount for which it is sold at auction is greatly in excess of the amount due. The five-year redemption period was intended in part to allow the taxpayer an opportunity to protect himself against such a contingency. Chapman v. Zobelein, 237 U.S. 135. See also Fox v. Wright, 152 Cal. 59; Merchants Trust Co. v. Wright, 161 Cal. 149; McMaster v. City of Santa Rosa, 27 Cal.App.3d 598.

Statutory provisions must be strictly followed.—Proceedings on tax sales are in invitum, and it has been held that a failure strictly to comply with the statutory requirements renders a sale invalid (Dougery v. Bettencourt, 214, Cal. 455) and leaves the property still subject to redemption. Miller v. Williams, 135 Cal. 183. The maxim De minimis non curat lex has no application with respect to such proceedings. Warden v. Ratterree et al., 215 Cal. 215.

Thus, notwithstanding the provisions of Section 3518, various errors in the delinquent list, in the publication thereof, and in the tax sales have been held to render the proceedings invalid. See Sections 3361, 3372 and 3436, and cases there cited. It is to be noted, however, that in some cases errors are cured by the tax deed, under Sections 3518 and 3711, and that certain irregularities are rendered immaterial by Section 24 or are cured by a validating act.

A purported waiver by the taxpayer of irregularities in the proceedings is not effective. So. California Bond & Finance Corp. v. Mathes, 206 Cal. 749.

Validating acts.—The legislature may cure, by a retrospective statute, omissions or irregularities in respect to details which are specified by statute but which are not required as a matter of constitutional law. See the validating act set forth in the General Law Provisions, infra this volume, and annotations, McMaster v. City of Santa Rosa, 27 Cal.App.3d 598.

Costs.—It is not the policy of the state to increase the burdens of taxation beyond the necessary cost of collection, or to impose any greater burdens in a redemption from a delinquent tax sale than are necessary to secure the payment of the original tax. All matters of taxation are resolved in favor of the taxpayer, and express statutory authorization should be found for each item of cost to be imposed upon him. San Francisco etc. L. Co. v. Banbury, 106 Cal. 129, 134.

Law governing.—A statute increasing the amount required for redemption may not be applied with respect to property sold prior to its enactment. Terralta Land, etc. Co. v. Shaffer, 116 Cal. 518. The Legislature may, however, as regards property previously sold to the state, relieve the owner of burdens imposed upon him under the law at the time the sale is made (Collier v. Shaffer, 137 Cal. 319), or extend the period of redemption (Anglo California National Bank v. Leland, 9 Cal.2d 347), or make changes affecting solely matters of procedure. Clayton v. Schultz, 4 Cal.2d 425.

A sale of tax-deeded property is governed by the law in force at that time. Bray v. Jones, 20 Cal.2d 858; Title Guarantee and Trust Co. v. Woody, 63 Cal.App.2d 209. Compare Billings v. Delgado, 51 Cal.App.2d 489, holding that the 1935 amendment to Political Code Section 3897 providing that the tax deed from the state to a private purchaser conveyed a title free of encumbrances, did not apply to a sale in 1937, the law in effect at the time of the sale to the state being controlling. Compare also Smith v. Addiego, 54 Cal.App.2d 230, and Campbell v. Woolner, 57 Cal.App.2d 511, holding that the title conveyed by the deed from the state is governed by the law in force at that time or at the time of the deed to the state.

Duties may be performed only by designated officers.—All the duties in connection with the redemption of property being confided by law to specially designated officers, they can be performed by no one else. Consequently, a board of supervisors is without power to contract with a private individual for the collection of taxes on tax-sold property. House v. Los Angeles County, 104 Cal. 73. A county may not institute suit for the collection of delinquent taxes except as specifically authorized by statute. Santa Barbara County v. Savings & Loan Society, 137 Cal. 463.

Proceedings void in certain cases.—Proceedings under this Part are void if in fact there is no delinquency (Boyer v. Gelhaus, 19 Cal.App. 320), or if the property in question is exempt from taxation (Brooks v. Tulare County, 117 Cal. 465; Webster v. Board of Regents of University of California, 163 Cal. 705; Warren v. San Francisco, 150 Cal. 167), has been redeemed (Jones v. Sturzenberg, 59 Cal.App. 350), or is acquired by a municipality subsequent to the sale to the state. Smith v. City of Santa Monica, 162 Cal. 221.

Acquisition of tax title by owner.—An owner of real property who has defaulted in the payment of taxes thereon has no right, in the absence of an affirmative legislative recognition thereof, to purchase the property at a tax sale Garvey v. Byram, 18 Cal.2d 279. The 1943 amendment to Section 3691, however, appears to have established the right of the former owner to purchase tax-deeded property.

An owner of real property who has defaulted in the payment of taxes thereon, as well as those claiming under him, may not add to or strengthen his title by purchasing the property at a tax sale or by acquiring the tax title from a stranger. Thus, such action has been held not to affect the title of timber held in separate ownership (Gates v. Lindley, 104 Cal. 451), or the rights of a mortgagee. Barnard v. Wilson, 74 Cal. 512; Dinkelman v. Harrison, 61 Cal.App.2d 258.

(C) INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

When available.—An injunction will not be granted to restrain the sale of property for delinquent taxes unless it appears that the enforcement of the tax would lead to a multiplicity of suits or produce irreparable injury, or, in the event that the property is real estate, it would cast a cloud upon the title. Crocker v. Scott, 149 Cal. 575, 594.

In determining whether a cloud would be cast upon the title, the test is whether or not the taxpayer would be required to offer evidence to defeat a claim based upon the tax deed. See Pixley v. Huggins, 15 Cal. 127, 133; Chase v. Treasurer of City of Los Angeles, 122 Cal. 540, 542; Las Animas etc. Land Co. v. Preciado, 167 Cal. 580.

When, in view of the presumptions which attach to a tax deed (see Sections 3517 and 3518), a taxpayer must offer evidence in order to defeat a claim based thereon, the deed casts a cloud upon his title and injunctive relief will be granted. Chase v. Treasurer of City of Los Angeles, supra. Relief will not be granted, however, against the issuance of a deed which would be void on its face. Hollister v. Sherman, 63 Cal. 38; Russ & Sons Co. v. Crichton, 117 Cal. 695.

Neither will an injunction be granted against the sale to the state by operation of law under Section 3436. Since the only effect of such a sale is to start running the five-year period within which redemption can be effected, it does not cast a cloud upon the title of the owner. Crocker v. Scott, supra.

Tender of tax due.—A complaint not alleging payment or offer of payment of the tax justly due states no cause of action in a suit to restrain the execution of a tax deed to the state because of the invalidity of the original assessment. Couts v. Cornell, 147 Cal. 560.

It is not necessary, however, that there be a payment or tender of any specific sum when, under the allegations of the complaint, the amount of the taxes legally due is so uncertain that any specific sum offered would be purely speculative. Charles v. City of Crescent City, 14 Cal.2d 234. Cf. Los Angeles County v. Ransohoff, 24 Cal.App.2d 238, in which the court directed that judgment be entered in favor of the county for the amount of taxes found to be due on an equitable assessment.

The principle applied in the two preceding paragraphs has also been invoked in actions to enjoin the sale of lands for delinquent irrigation district assessments (Imperial Land Co. v. Imperial Irrigation District, 173 Cal. 660; Quint v. Hoffman, 103 Cal. 506); in actions by a property owner against purchasers at a void tax sale to quiet title or for cancellation of the deeds (Holland v. Hotchkiss, 162 Cal. 366; see Section 3728); in actions to recover taxes paid (De Mille v. Los Angeles County, 25 Cal.App.2d 506); and in actions to enforce the collection of taxes. Los Angeles County v. Ballerino, 99 Cal. 593.

Chapter 1. Publication of Delinquent List and Notice of Sale

Article 1. Generally*

* Stats. 1967, p. 2341, in effect November 8, 1967, completely revised the procedures found in former article 1 by amending some sections, deleting those portions of article 1 dealing with publication of notice of deed to the state and the delinquent list, and adding articles 1.5 and 1.7, which treat those two subjects in a somewhat new manner.

3351. Notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes. (a) Annually, on or before June 8, the tax collector shall publish a notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property, except tax-defaulted property and possessory interests, the taxes, assessments, penalties, and costs on which will have not been fully paid by the close of business on June 30, or the next business day if June 30 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

(b) If the tax collector sends reminder notices prior to the close of the fiscal year and annually sends a redemption notice of prior year due taxes, the notice required by subdivision (a) shall only include properties that have been tax-delinquent for three or more years and for which the latest reminder notice or redemption notice was returned to the tax collector as undeliverable.

History.—Stats. 1943 p. 1936, in effect August 4, 1943, substituted "delinquent roll" for "delinquent list" in subdivision (a) and subdivision (b), and "published delinquent list" for "delinquent list" in last paragraph, and added last clause to subdivision (b) (1). Stats. 1949, p. 465, in effect October 1, 1949, substituted "endorsed" for "indorsed" and added the clause relating to the secured roll in subdivision (a), substituted "on which the taxes are unpaid" for "on the delinquent roll" in subdivision (b), added the clause relating to the secured roll in subdivision (b) (3) and made technical changes in the last paragraph. Stats. 1967, p. 2341, in effect November 8, 1967, substituted the balance of the Section after "shall" for the former provisions which are now found in Section 3372. Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, in effect September 11, 1984, substituted "impending default for failure to pay taxes on" for "his intent to sell to the state the" after "notice of", substituted "tax-defaulted property" for "tax-sold property" after "except", and substituted "by 5 p.m. on the last business day of the fiscal year" for "at the time set for the sale" after "paid". Stats. 1991, Ch. 532, in effect January 1, 1992, substituted "8" for "8th" after "June" and substituted "the close of business" for "5 p.m." after "paid by". Stats. 2002, Ch. 723 (AB 1008), in effect January 1, 2003, designated the former first paragraph as subdivision (a) and added "business" after "on the last" in the first sentence therein; and added subdivision (b). Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 407 (SB 1832), in effect January 1, 2005.

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

Note.—Section 5 of Stats. 2002, Ch. 723 (AB 1008) provided that:

(a) The Legislature finds and declares each of the following:

(1) California is currently experiencing a severe shortage of affordable housing. According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, currently about 2.4 million California households need some form of housing assistance, that is, those households are low-income and are overpaying for housing costs. According to the California Budget Project, statewide there are approximately 2.3 low-income renter households per affordable unit, or a shortage of 581,000 units.

(2) Given this shortage of affordable housing, the state cannot afford to lose units from the marketplace due to deterioration and condemnation for building code violations.

(3) Prevention of real property deterioration is a legitimate government interest, and funding for local programs that increase efforts to enforce building codes is an important tool in preventing affordable housing from being removed from the market.

(b) The Legislature further finds and declares that there may be a link between real properties that are delinquent in payment of property taxes and building code violations, and that this issue is worthy of study. It is therefore the intent of the Legislature, pursuant to Section 7 of this act, to make available to the University of California data, with respect to tax-delinquent properties, collected by local tax collectors and described in Section 7 of this act.

(c) The Legislature further finds and declares that there are costs incurred by local tax collectors in providing the information required for the study pursuant to Section 7 of this act, and that these costs may be offset by correspondingly eliminating unnecessary costs incurred by local tax collectors in fulfilling the notice requirements pursuant to Sections 3351 and 3371 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature, in amending Sections 3351 and 3371 of the Revenue and Taxation Code in this act, to offset the costs incurred by local tax collectors in providing the information required for the study pursuant to Section 7 of this act.

Section 6 thereof provided that:

(a) The University of California may need to obtain data in order, to the extent possible, to study the following:

(1) The breakdown of tax-delinquent properties by residential, commercial, and industrial properties.

(2) The breakdown of tax-delinquent properties by length of delinquency.

(3) The potential of tax-delinquent properties to provide affordable housing.

(b) In order to obtain the data necessary to perform this study, the University of California shall notify the Controller, in writing, that it is requesting the data required to be published pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 3351) of Part 6 of Division 1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

(c) Within 14 days of receipt of the request for data from the University of California, the Controller shall request from county tax collectors for the most recently completed fiscal year and the current fiscal year the information requested pursuant to subdivision (b). The tax collectors shall provide the requested information for the most recently completed fiscal year within 14 days of receipt of the request and the information for the current fiscal year by the following September 15. The tax collectors shall transmit the requested information in electronic text format if possible. Data fields shall include, if possible, assessor's parcel number, situs address including ZIP Code, duration and amount of tax delinquency for each parcel, and associated zoning designations such as residential, commercial, or industrial. The Controller shall transmit that information to the University of California within 14 days of receipt of the information requested from the county tax collectors.

(d) The University of California may not sell, rent, or exchange information it obtains pursuant to this section.

Section 7 thereof provided that no reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because this act provides for offsetting savings to local agencies or school districts that result in no net costs to the local agencies or school districts, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.

Construction.—Posting improved real property constitutionally required as a prerequisite to its divestiture where the statutory procedures for giving notice of impending tax sales are constitutionally insufficient as to the equitable owners of the property in actual possession, who had no reason to believe that the required taxes had not been paid. Banas v. Transamerica Title Ins. Co., 133 Cal.App.3d 845.

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3352. Form and content of notice. The notice shall be in the form of an affidavit and shall show:

(a) That unless paid, the amount due shall be in default.

(b) The time at which the default will occur by operation of law.

(c) The fact that if tax defaulted, the real property may be redeemed by the payment of the amount of defaulted taxes together with such additional penalties and fees as prescribed by law, or that the real property may be redeemed under an installment plan of redemption.

(d) The fact that tax-defaulted real property will be subsequently sold in satisfaction of the tax lien unless that property is redeemed or an installment plan of redemption is initiated and maintained.

(e) The fact that a publication of a detailed listing of all real property which is tax defaulted will be initiated on or before September 8th, unless that property is sooner redeemed.

History.—Stats. 1955, p. 839, in effect September 7, 1955, substituted "total amount due is" for "taxes, penalties, and costs are" and "the total amount is" for "they are" in subdivision (a). Stats. 1967, p. 2341, in effect November 8, 1967, revised this section to conform to the amendment to Section 3351, and added subdivisions (c), (d), (e) and (f). Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, in effect September 11, 1984, deleted "the total amount due is" after "unless", deleted "real property on which the total" after "the", and substituted "shall be in default" for "is a lien will be sold to the state" after "due" in subdivision (a); deleted "and place" after "the time" and substituted "the default will occur" for "property will be sold to the state" after "which" in subdivision (b); substituted "tax defaulted" for "sold to the state" after "if", and substituted "defaulted taxes" for "sold taxes" after "of" in subdivision (c); added "tax-defaulted" after "that", deleted "which is sold to the state for delinquent taxes" after "real property", substituted "sold in satisfaction of the tax lien" for "deeded to the state, at the time prescribed by law" after "subsequently, and substituted "that" for "such tax-sold" before "property" in subdivision (d); deleted former subdivision (e) which provided "The fact that real property deeded to the state may be sold at public auction or otherwise conveyed, unless such real property is redeemed."; and relettered former subdivision (f) as (e), and substituted "tax-defaulted" for "sold to the state" after "is" and substituted "that" for "such" after "unless" therein.

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

3353. Manner of publication. Publication shall be made pursuant to Section 6063 of the Government Code in the county. If no newspaper of general circulation is published in the county, the publication shall be made by posting in three public places in the county. The cost of publication shall be at no more than the rate fixed by the board of supervisors for other county advertising.

History.—Stats. 1949, p. 467, in effect October 1, 1949, substituted " 'to be deeded to the State' " for " 'to be sold at public auction' " and substituted " 'See No.' " for " 'See sale No.' " Stats 1967, p. 2341, in effect November 8, 1967, revised the section.

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Article 1.5. Deeds to the State*

Note.—See history note under Article 1.

* Article 1.5 was added by Stats. 1967, p. 2342, in effect November 8, 1967.

3361. Notice of power and intent to sell tax-defaulted property. Annually, on or before June 8th, the tax collector shall publish a notice of power and intent to sell all property that will be tax defaulted for one of the following:

(a) Five years or more on the date specified.

(b) Three or more years on the date specified in the case of residential real property that could serve the public benefit by providing housing or services directly related to low-income persons, for which a request has been made by a city, county, city and county, or nonprofit organization, pursuant to Section 3692.4, to offer that property at the next scheduled public auction.

(c) Three years or more in the case of nonresidential commercial property, as defined in Section 3691, in an applicable county, on the date specified.

History.—Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, substituted "of power and intent . . . date specified" for "of his intent to deed to the state all real property which was previously sold to the state and which is subject to deeding to the state" after "notice". Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 944 (AB 2144), in effect January 1, 2005.

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

3362. Content of notice. The published notice shall show:

(a) The date of the notice.

(b) (1) That on July 1, five years or more will have elapsed since the property became tax defaulted; or

(2) That, on July 1, three years or more in the case of nonresidential commercial property, as defined in Section 3691, in an applicable county will have elapsed since the property became tax defaulted; or

(3) That, on July 1, in the case of real property that could serve the public benefit by providing housing or services directly related to low-income persons, three years or more have elapsed, and a request has been made by a city, county, city and county, or nonprofit organization, pursuant to Section 3692.4, to offer that property at the next scheduled public auction.

(c) That, unless sooner redeemed or an installment plan of redemption is initiated, the property will be sold.

(d) That the power to sell for nonpayment of taxes arises if the property remains tax defaulted at 12:01 a.m. on July 1.

(e) That if the property is sold for nonpayment of taxes the right of redemption will terminate.

(f) The official who will furnish all information concerning redemption.

(g) The fiscal year for which the defaulted taxes were levied.

(h) A description of the property. The assessments contained in this notice shall be numbered in ascending numerical order.

(i) The amount necessary to redeem the property as of the date specified in the publication opposite the description of the property.

(j) The name of the assessee on the current roll.

(k) The street address of the property, if any, shown on the county assessment records.

History.—Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, in effect September 11, 1984, deleted "of intent to deed to the state." after "notice" in the first sentence; substituted subdivision (b) for former subdivision (b) which provided "that the number of years prescribed by law will have elapsed on the date set for deeding to the state since the property was sold to the state"; substituted subdivision (c) for former subdivision (c) which provided "That the property will be deeded to the state, unless sooner redeemed or an installment plan of redemption is initiated"; substituted "power to sell for nonpayment of taxes arises" for "property will be deeded to the state, which date and time shall not be less than 21 days after the first publication" after "the" in subdivision (d); deleted former subdivision (c); relettered former subdivision (f) as (e), and substituted "sold for nonpayment of taxes" for "deeded to the state", and deleted "upon any subsequent sale, or other conveyance, by the state" after "terminate" therein; relettered former subdivision (g) as (f); deleted former subdivision (h); substituted subdivision (g) for former subdivision (i) which provided "the year of the sale to the state and the fiscal year for which the taxes were levied"; relettered former subdivision (j) as (h); relettered former subdivision (k) as (i), and substituted "of taxes originally declared in default" for "for which the property is to be deeded" therein; and relettered former subdivision (l) and (m) as (j) and (k), respectively. Stats. 1991, Ch. 532, in effect January 1, 1992, substituted"July 1" for "the date specified" after "on" in subdivision (b), and substituted "That" for "The date and time at which" before "the power", and added "if the property remains tax defaulted at 8 a.m. on July 1" after "arises" in subdivision (d). Stats. 1994, Ch. 705, in effect January 1, 1995, substituted "12:01" for "8" after "defaulted at" in subdivision (d). Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 944 (AB 2144), in effect January 1, 2005. Stats. 2007, Ch. 340 (AB 1745), in effect January 1, 2008, substituted "necessary to redeem the property as of the date specified in the publication" for "of taxes originally declared in default" after "The amount" in the first sentence of subdivision (i).

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

Other matters not required.—The notice need not advise the owner of his rights under statutes permitting an extension of the redemption period. Mallman v. Kneeben, 11 Cal.App.2d 484.

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3363. Manner of publication. Except as provided in Article 1.8 (commencing with Section 3381) of this chapter, the publication shall be made pursuant to Section 6063 of the Government Code in the county. If no newspaper of general circulation is published in the county, the publication shall be made by posting in three public places in the county.

The cost of publication shall be at no more than the rate fixed by the board of supervisors for other county advertising.

Construction.—It is not necessary that three weeks elapse between the first and the last publication but only that there be a publication in each of three different weeks. The tax collector has no discretion to authorize a fourth publication and the county is not legally bound to pay for the same. Hanhart v. Madera County, 76 Cal.App. 290.

Newspaper supplement.—Publication in a separate section of a newspaper containing no other printed matter than that pertaining to the delinquent list, but folded with the section containing the general news and advertising constitutes a compliance with this section. Penaat v. Terwilliger, 23 Cal.2d 865.

3364. Copy filed; affidavit. Immediately after the publication is completed, the tax collector shall file with the county recorder a copy of the publication and an attached affidavit. This affidavit is prima facie evidence of the facts stated. The affidavit shall show:

(a) That it is affixed to a true copy of the publication.

(b) The manner of publication.

(c) If the publication was in a newspaper, its name and place of publication and the date of each appearance.

(d) If not published in a newspaper, the places of posting.

The county recorder may destroy such publications and affidavits that have been on file in his office for more than seven years.

History.—Stats. 1973, Ch. 370, p. 812, in effect January 1, 1974, added the last paragraph.

Note.—See annotations under Section 3374.

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3365. Notice to assessee of default and power to sell property. After the first publication of the notice and not less than 21 days nor more than 35 days before July 1, the tax collector shall send by registered mail to the last assessee of the tax-defaulted property at his or her last known address a notice of default and power to sell the property for nonpayment of taxes. The tax collector shall make a reasonable effort to ascertain the address of the last assessee of the tax-defaulted property, including, but not limited to, an examination of the assessment of this property on the rolls beginning with the year of delinquency to and including that of the last equalized roll, an examination of the most recent telephone books in the county in which the tax-defaulted property is located, and an examination of the telephone book covering the area of the last known address of the last assessee.

Any failure of the tax collector to make a reasonable effort to ascertain the address of the last assessee as required by this section shall not affect the validity of any subsequent sale to satisfy the lien of unpaid taxes.

History.—Stats. 1971, p. 2135, in effect March 4, 1972, added the provisions concerning an examination of the telephone books to the second sentence of the first paragraph and added the second paragraph. Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, in effect September 11, 1984, deleted "of intent to deed to the state" after "publication of the notice" added "days" after "21", substituted "the power to sell for nonpayment of taxes arises" for "of deeding, when tax-sold property is to be deeded" after "date"; substituted "tax-defaulted" for "tax-sold" after "the"; added "or her" after "his", and substituted "a notice of default . . . taxes" for "either a copy of the publication or a notice of intent to deed the property to the state" after "address" in the first sentence, and substituted "tax-defaulted" for "tax-sold" after each "the" in the second sentence of the first paragraph; and substituted "Any" for "The," and substituted "any subsequent . . . taxes" for "the deed to the state" after "validity of" in the second paragraph. Stats. 1991, Ch. 532, in effect January 1, 1992, substituted "July 1" for "the date the power to sell for nonpayment of taxes arises" after "before" in the first sentence.

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

Ascertainment of address.—The inquiry of the tax collector in endeavoring to ascertain the address of the delinquent property owner need not extend beyond the examination of the assessment roll from the date of the delinquent assessment to that of the last assessment before the sale. If no address appears and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it must be assumed, in accordance with the presumption of law that official duty has been regularly performed (Code of Civil Procedure Section 1863, Subdivision 15), that the address was not known to the tax collector, so that the mailing of the notice is not required. Jacoby v. Wolff, 198 Cal. 667, cited and followed in Scott v. Beck, 204 Cal. 78, and Tasker v. Nieto, 108 Cal.App. 135. See also to the same effect with respect to sales of tax-deeded property under former Political Code Section 3897: Campbell v. Moran, 161 Cal. 325; Smith v. Boston, 161 Cal. 341; Crouch v. Shafer, 177 Cal. 154.

Mailing.—It is not required that the postal authorities be instructed to return the notice in the event that it is not delivered. Bray v. Jones, 20 Cal.2d 858.

If the notice is returned to the tax collector prior to the sale without having been delivered, due to the fact that the wrapper contained instructions that the parcel should be returned to the sender within 10 days if not claimed, Numitor Gold Mining Co. v. Katzer, 83 Cal.App. 161, or if it is mailed within 21 days of the date of sale, Sawyer v. Berkeley Securities Co., 99 Cal.App. 545, the sale is void.

Deed as evidence.—Under Subdivision (e) of Section 3517 the tax collector's deed is prima facie evidence that the notice was properly mailed. Usher v. Henkel, 205 Cal. 413; Bell v. Brigance, 74 Cal.App. 322.

Failure to give notice.—An action based on the failure to give the notice required by this section, whether or not such defect is considered to be a jurisdictional one, is barred by Section 3521 of the Revenue and Taxation Code in a case in which defendant has occupied land under a tax deed from the state for over the period prescribed in that section and the plaintiff has had actual notice of that fact throughout such period. Tannhauser v. Adams, 31 Cal.2d 169.

3366. Content of special notice. The mailed notice shall show the same information required for the published notice in Section 3362. A copy of the published notice may be mailed in lieu of a separate notice.

History.—Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, in effect September 11, 1984, deleted "of the deed to the state" after "The mailed notice", and substituted "show the same . . . separate notice" for former subdivisions (a) through (f), which specified the content of the notice after "shall".

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

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Article 1.7. Published Delinquent List*

Note.—See history note under Article 1.

* Article 1.7 was added by Stats. 1967, p. 2343, in effect November 8, 1967.

3371. Affidavit of default published. (a) Annually, on or before September 8, the tax collector shall publish the affidavit that the real property on which the taxes, assessments, penalties, and costs had not been fully paid are in default, together with a list of all that real property. However, in any county that mails delinquent notices to the assessees of record before June 30, the tax collector shall publish the affidavit and list of all that real property on or before September 8 of the year following the date of default.

(b) If the tax collector sends reminder notices prior to the close of the fiscal year and annually sends a redemption notice of prior year due taxes, the delinquent notice described in subdivision (a) may be published only for those properties that have been tax-delinquent for three or more years and for which the latest reminder notice or redemption notice was returned to the tax collector as undeliverable.

History.—Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, effective September 11, 1984, substituted "the" for "his" before "affidavit," and substituted "are in default" for "was sold to the state," after "paid". Stats. 1989, Ch. 68, in effect June 28, 1989, substituted "8" for "8th" after "September" and substituted "that" for "such" after "all" in the first sentence and added the second sentence. Stats. 2002, Ch. 723 (AB 1008), in effect January 1, 2003, designated the former first paragraph as subdivision (a) and added subdivision (b). Stats. 2003, Ch. 199 (SB 1063), in effect January 1, 2004, substituted "published" for "mailed" after "(a) may be" in the first sentence of subdivision (b).

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

Note.—Stats. 2002, Ch. 723 (AB 1008), see note following Section 3351.

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3372. Content of notice. The notice shall show:

(a) The affidavit of tax default.

(b) The fact that the real property may be redeemed by the payment of the amount of defaulted taxes together with those additional penalties and fees as prescribed by law, or that the real property may be redeemed under an installment plan of redemption.

(c) The official who will furnish all information concerning redemption.

(d) The following information relating to each assessment of tax-defaulted property:

(1) The name of the assessee, and where there is more than one valuation the name of the assessee need be listed only once. For the purposes of this section, the name of the assessee may be the name of the assessee as shown on the current roll.

(2) The description of the property.

(3) The total amount necessary to redeem the property as of the date specified in the publication.

This information required to be published is the "published delinquent list." If any tax-defaulted property is redeemed, the information relating to the property may be omitted from any publication.

History.—Stats. 1982, Ch. 694, in effect January 1, 1983, operative July 1, 1983, added paragraph (4) to subdivision (d). Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, in effect September 11, 1984, substituted "tax default" for "sale to the state." after "of" in subdivision (a), substituted "defaulted taxes" for "sold taxes." after "of" in subdivisions (b) and (d), and substituted "which was originally declared in default" for "for which the property was sold" after "amount" in paragraph 4 of subdivision (d). Stats. 1989, Ch. 68, in effect June 28, 1989, added "tax-defaulted" after "If any", deleted "on the published delinquent list" before "is redeemed", deleted "subsequent" after "omitted from any", and substituted "publication" for "publications" in the second sentence of the second paragraph. Stats. 1998, Ch. 497 (SB 2233), in effect January 1, 1999, substituted "those" for "such" after "together with" in the first sentence of subdivision (b), and deleted former paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) which provided that the street address of the property, if any, shown on the county assessment records be provided on the notice. Stats. 2007, Ch. 340 (AB 1745), in effect January 1, 2008, substituted "necessary to redeem the property as of the date specified in the publication" for "which was originally declared in default" after "The total amount" in the first sentence of paragraph (3) of subdivision (d).

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

Errors invalidating proceedings.—The following errors in the delinquent list have been held to render tax sales void under prior statutory provisions: Overstatement of fifty cents in the amount due, even though the sale was actually made for the correct amount (Warden v. Broome, 9 Cal.App. 1972), the omission of the word "penalties" in stating the amount due (Miller v. McKenna, 23 Cal.2d 774; Fleishman v. Davis, 128 Cal.App. 174); (cf. Bray v. Jones, 20 Cal.2d 858), stating in one sum the amount due for several parcels separately assessed to a single owner (Gottstein v. Kelly, 206 Cal. 742), errors and ambiguities in stating the time or place of sale (Beck v. Wilson, 49 Cal.App. 281; Numitor Gold Mining Co. v. Katzer, 83 Cal.App. 161); or in describing the property (Cordano v. Kelsey, 28 Cal.App. 9); omission of the name of the owner, Ellis v. Witmer, 134 Cal. 249. A mistake in spelling the owner's name is not material, in view of Section 613 (Schainman v. All Persons, 96 Cal.App. 753), nor are errors in an explanatory note appended to the delinquent list. In re Rogers, 91 Cal.App. 726. See also the 1943 Validating Act (Stats. 1943, p. 1993), infra, and annotations thereto.

Abbreviations.—A condensed description in a delinquent list which consists only of the use of common abbreviations is permissible if thereby the property may be easily known. Rollins v. Woodman, 117 Cal. 516. In the publication of the delinquent list the employment of figures to represent dollars and cents without having prefixed thereto the dollar mark is sufficient when the meaning of the figures is fully explained in the publication. Fox v. Wright, 152 Cal. 59. The delinquent list with the word "amount" and under it "400" clearly gave notice to any intelligent person that dollars were meant, and the absence of the dollar mark does not invalidate the tax sale. Carter v. Osborn, 150 Cal. 620.

Description of property.—The object of requiring the description of the property in the delinquent list is to notify the owner of the land that the taxes thereon are delinquent, and if the description is sufficient to give this notice it must be held a sufficient compliance with the statute. Davis v. Pacific Improvement Co., 137 Cal. 245; Numitor Gold Mining Co. v. Katzer, 83 Cal.App. 161.

Property included in notice of sale.—If the taxes for the years subsequent to the sale to the state have been paid, property covered by the notice of sale need not be included in the delinquent list. Scott v. Beck, 204 Cal. 78.

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3373. Manner of publication. Except as provided in Article 1.8 (commencing with Section 3381), the publication shall be made pursuant to Section 6063 of the Government Code in the county. If no newspaper of general circulation is published in the county, the publication shall be made by posting in three public places in the county.

The cost of publication shall be at no more than the rate fixed by the board of supervisors for other county advertising.

Construction.—It is not necessary that three weeks elapse between the first and the last publication but only that there be a publication in each of three different weeks. The tax collector has no discretion to authorize a fourth publication and the county is not legally bound to pay for the same. Hanhart v. Madera County, 76 Cal.App. 290.

Newspaper supplement.—Publication in a separate section of a newspaper containing no other printed matter than that pertaining to the delinquent list, but folded with the section containing the general news and advertising constitutes a compliance with this section. Penaat v. Terwilliger, 23 Cal.2d 865.

3374. Copy filed; affidavit. Immediately after the publication is completed, the tax collector shall file with the county recorder a copy of the publication and an attached affidavit. This affidavit is prima facie evidence of the facts stated. The affidavit shall show:

(a) That it is affixed to a true copy of the publication.

(b) The manner of publication.

(c) If the publication was in a newspaper, its name and place of publication and the date of each appearance.

(d) If not published in a newspaper, the places of posting.

The county recorder may destroy such publications and affidavits that have been on file in the recorder's office for more than seven years.

History.—Stats. 1975, Ch. 155, p. 286, in effect January 1, 1976, added the second paragraph.

Effect of tax deed.—Under Section 3518 a tax deed is conclusive evidence that the affidavit and copy of the published delinquent list were properly filed. Stuart v. Chapman, 87 Cal.App. 552, 555; Haaran v. High, 97 Cal. 445; Penaat v. Guasco, 84 Cal.App.2d 445, 452.

Loss of delinquent list.—A copy of the delinquent list, duly verified and filed as provided by this section, establishes the original in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and the loss of the original can not affect the rights of the purchaser at the tax sale. Davis v. Pacific Improvement Co., 137 Cal. 245, 249.

3375. Notification by tax collector. The tax collector shall notify the Controller, in such manner as the Controller shall direct, of all property subject to a "Notice of Lien for Postponed Property Taxes" recorded pursuant to Section 16182 of the Government Code, which:

(a) Becomes tax defaulted subsequent to the date of entry on the secured roll of the information required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 2514; or

(b) Becomes subject to those collection procedures that are available for collection of delinquent taxes or assessments on the unsecured roll.

History.—Added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 1242, in effect October 1, 1977. Stats. 1978, Ch. 576, in effect August 31, 1978, in the first paragraph after the word "which" added the ":" and designated the remaining portion of the old sentence as subdivision (a) and also added the ";" and the word "or" to the end of subdivision (a). Also added subdivision (b). Stats. 1984, Ch. 988, in effect September 11, 1984, substituted "Becomes tax defaulted" for "Is sold to the state for unpaid taxes" before "subsequent" in subdivision (a).

Note.—See note following Section 2194.

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Article 1.8. Alternative Method of Publication*

* Article 1.8 was added by Stats. 1967, p. 2344, in effect November 8, 1967.

3381. Alternate method of publication. In each county where the tax collector or, if the county is a chartered county, the board of supervisors determines that the public interest, convenience and necessity require the local publication of the delinquent list required by Section 3371, or the published notice of power and intent to sell required by Section 3361, in order to afford adequate notice, all items required to be published shall be published as provided in this article.

After the determination, the tax collector or, if the county is a chartered county, the board of supervisors shall divide and distribute the items to be published and cause the same to be published either within (a) the municipal corporations, (b) the elementary, high school, or junior college districts, (c) the supervisorial districts, (d) judicial districts, (e) tax districts, areas included in map books, or tax code areas, or (f) by any annexation or annexations of same, or any combination of same, or any combination of those districts, annexations, areas included in map books, and code areas, within the county as they shall determine most likely to afford adequate notice to owners of the property.

Except as provided in this article, the publication shall be in the same manner as provided in Article 1.7 (commencing with Section 3371).

The publication provided for in this article shall be made once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation. The publication shall be made in a newspaper published not less frequently than once a week.

History.—Added by Stats. 1967, Ch. 894, effective November 8, 1967. Stats. 1985, Ch. 316, effective January 1, 1986, substituted "required by Section 3371 . . . required by Section 3361" for ", or the list of properties to be deeded to the state," after "list" in first paragraph; substituted "such" for "the" after "After" and "such" for "those" after "combination of" in second paragraph; added "(commencing with Section 3371)" after "Article 1.7" in third paragraph, substituted "The" for "such" after "circulation." in second sentence of fourth paragraph.

Construction.—Publication of a delinquent list covering property within a city need not be made in a newspaper "printed" and "published" in that city, and such publications circulated in the geographical areas in which the property covered by the list was located was valid, although the newspaper itself was printed and published in a city located in a different geographical area. Western States Newspapers, Inc. v. Gehringer, 203 Cal.App.2d 793.

3382. Contract for publication; rate. Annually, the board of supervisors shall let the contracts for publication of the published delinquent list, or the published notice of power and intent to sell, and shall determine the rate to be paid for those publications or any portions thereof.

The publication rate shall be based on a common denominator of measurement for all newspapers and may be graduated according to circulation.

History.—Added by Stats. 1967, Ch. 894, effective November 8, 1967. Stats. 1985, Ch. 316, effective January 1, 1986, substituted "published notice of power and intent to sell" for "list of properties to be deeded to the state", after "list, or the"; "those publications" for "the publication of such delinquent list", after "paid for"; and "portions" for "portion", after "or any" in first paragraph.

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3383. Contents of contracts. The contracts for the publications shall include the publication of the proper portion of the published list and all other items relating to that portion of the published list required by law to be published.

3384. Notice by mail. The board of supervisors may provide by order for mailing to each assessee on the published delinquent list a copy of the items delinquent assessed to him and, if so ordered, the copy shall be mailed to the assessee at his address as shown on the roll. This section gives no one any right to receive the copy of items delinquent, and neither the county nor any office or employee is liable for failure of the assessee to receive the copy or for any mistake in connection with the mailing.

3385. Mailing by whom. In ordering mailing of a copy of items delinquent, the board of supervisors may do either of the following:

(a) Authorize the tax collector to perform the mailing.

(b) Include, or authorize the inclusion of, the mailing as an item in the contracts for publication of the published delinquent list.

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