Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 9. Corrections, Cancellations, and Refunds

CHAPTER 1. General Provisions

Part 9. Corrections, Cancellations, and Refunds

Chapter 1. General Provisions

4801. "Taxes." As used in this part, "taxes" includes assessments collected at the same time and in the same manner as county taxes.

4802. "District attorney." As used in this part, "district attorney" means the civil legal adviser of the board of supervisors.

4803. Notice to Controller. [Repealed by Stats. 1998, Ch. 497 (SB 2233) in effect January 1, 1999.]

4804. Performance of acts by authorized county officers. The board of supervisors of any county may, by resolution, authorize the county administrative officer, or the county legal advisor, or the county auditor, or any other county officer, or a specified group of any county officers acting as a committee, to perform in its behalf any act required or authorized to be performed by the board of supervisors under this part, if such act is not imposed upon the board of supervisors by the Constitution.

The resolution may, at the request of the county legal advisor, provide for a waiver of the requirement for the written consent of the county legal advisor in any act performed under the provisions of this section.

The resolution shall enumerate those sections or subdivisions, or those portions of sections or subdivisions, to which the authorization is to apply, and shall specify administrative rules and procedures concerning any act performed under the authorization.

The resolution shall require that the county auditor record each act performed under the authorization.

The resolution may provide for review by the board of supervisors of any act performed under the authorization, or for periodic reports to the board of supervisors of any or all acts performed under the authorization, or both.

History.—Added by Stats. 1969, p. 282, in effect November 10, 1969.

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4806. Prohibition of tax refunds. No refund shall be made under Chapter 5 of this part, nor shall any action be hereafter commenced nor shall any action heretofore commenced be further prosecuted for the recovery, of any tax voluntarily paid which was levied prior to January 1, 1939, claimed to be erroneous or illegal, by reason of errors, omissions or illegalities in preparing, transmitting, computing, determining or fixing the budget or the tax rate or rates of any county, city and county, school district, municipal corporation or other public corporation, or political subdivision, in any case in which the taxes collected from such erroneous or illegal levy have been applied in the next or any succeeding fiscal year to reduce the tax levy for such year, or have been expended, appropriated, or applied for a public purpose.

For the purposes of this section, the mere payment of a tax under protest shall not be deemed to constitute such payment an involuntary payment.

Construction.—Constitutionality.—A tax is paid voluntarily within the meaning of this section unless there is "some compulsion or coercion attending its assertion, which controls the conduct of the party making the payment." Taxes so paid cannot be recovered in the absence of statutory authorization, and although in California such authorization has been provided by Section 5096 and former Section 5136, it may be withdrawn at any time without the violation of constitutional rights. Southern Service Co., Ltd., v. Los Angeles County, 15 Cal.2d 1.

As to what constitutes an involuntary payment, see also Cooper v. Chamberlin, 78 Cal. 450; Gill v. City of Oakland, 124 Cal. 335; Palomares Land Co. v. Los Angeles County, 146 Cal. 530; Hanford Gas Etc. Co. v. Hanford, 163 Cal. 108; Spencer v. City of Los Angeles, 180 Cal. 103; Flynn v. San Francisco, 18 Cal.2d 210; Home Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. City of Los Angeles, 40 Cal.App. 492.

4807. Injunction. No injunction or writ of mandate or other legal or equitable process shall issue in any suit, action, or proceeding in any court against any county, municipality, or district, or any officer thereof, to prevent or enjoin the collection of property taxes sought to be collected. In the case of a collection of taxes pursuant to a bankruptcy proceeding, the county may request a reasonable amount of attorney's fees.

History.—Added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 539 in effect January 1, 1978. Stats. 1998, Ch. 497 (SB 2233), in effect January 1, 1999, added the second sentence of the first paragraph.

Construction.—Taxpayers challenging certain assessment practices that began after the adoption of Article XIII A of the Constitution were not entitled to relief by either injunction or mandate since they had an adequate remedy at law, a claim for refund followed by a suit for refund, and since the section prohibits the issuance of an injunction or writ of mandate to prevent or enjoin the collection of property taxes. Schoderbeck v. Carlson, 152 Cal.App.3d 1027. Taxpayers' actions to have personal property tax liens declared invalid on the ground they were for taxes more than ten years old at the time they were filed are barred by this section since taxpayers, in effect, sought a prepayment adjudication of the county's right to collect tax that would have effectively prevented the collection of a tax. Section 5140 provided the taxpayers with an adequate remedy for their claims. McKendry v. Kern County, 180 Cal.App.3d 1165. Taxpayers' mandamus proceeding to correct alleged assessment inequalities in Article XIIIA of the Constitution assessments is barred by this section, notwithstanding their disclaimer of any right to tax refunds. Although they disclaimed rights to refunds, by seeking to lower their assessments the taxpayers were seeking to avoid the future payment of taxes, which this section forbids, Merced County Taxpayers' Assn. v. Cardella, Merced County Taxpayers' Assn. v. Merced County, 218 Cal.App.3d 396. Plaintiffs' mandamus proceeding to direct county to grant a property tax exemption for 200 homeowners on their possessory interests in the leased land underlying the homes they owned is barred by this section, notwithstanding the interests of the nontaxpaying University of California and its campus housing authority. The statutory command is clear and admits of no exceptions. Connolly v. Orange County, 1 Cal.4th 1105. A class action via mandamus seeking to require a county to follow Revenue and Taxation Code Section 1604(c) is not a prohibited class claim for property tax refund. Bunker v. Orange County, 103 Cal.App.4th 542.

Where special taxes remain unpaid, a trial court has no jurisdiction to offset the amount of unpaid taxes based on a plaintiff's failure to timely perform its contractual obligations since, under this section, any legal action or defense seeking prepayment adjudication that would effectively prevent the collection of a tax is barred. Community Facilities District v. Harvill, 74 Cal. App. 4th 876. Where special taxes remain unpaid, any legal action or affirmative defenses, such as lack or failure of consideration, seeking prepayment adjudication are barred as a matter of law by this section. Riverside County Community Facilities District v. Bainbridge 17, 77 Cal.App.4th 644.

Mandamus.— Because the taxpayer did not request a new hearing before the board or otherwise challenge the board's determination that it lacked jurisdiction by reason of untimeliness (Revenue and Taxation Code sections 51.5, subdivision (b), 80, subdivision (a)(3), case law providing that an assessment appeals board can be compelled to hold a hearing when it erroneously fails or refuses to decide an issue did not apply, and mandate relief thus was unavailable. William Jefferson & Co., Inc. v. Orange County Assessment Appeals Board No. 2 (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1.

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4808. Declaratory relief. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, any taxpayer may, no later than 30 days after the delinquency date of a property tax bill or any installment thereof, seek declaratory relief in the superior court in the county in which the property is located alleging that the locally assessed property taxes have been illegally or unconstitutionally assessed or collected or are to be so assessed or collected.

Any action alleging an illegal or unconstitutional method of valuation or similar matter shall name as respondent the assessor of the county in which the property is located. An action alleging an unconstitutional or illegal tax rate shall name as respondent the auditor-controller of such county. In the event the action involves the validity of a rule or regulation adopted by the State Board of Equalization, the board shall be named as a respondent. The relief granted pursuant to this section shall be limited to a declaration that the taxes assessed or collected or to be assessed or collected are unconstitutional or otherwise legally invalid.

This section shall not be interpreted to allow a taxpayer to postpone payment of property taxes pending the decision of the court. All assessment and collection provisions of this division shall continue to apply to properties affected by this section.

This section shall be applicable only in instances where the alleged illegal or unconstitutional assessment or collection occurs as the direct result of a change in administrative regulations or statutory or constitutional law that became effective not more than 12 months prior to the date the action is initiated by the taxpayer.

The procedure for obtaining a declaratory relief judgment under this section shall be the same as that used to obtain a writ of mandate.

History.—Added by Stats. 1981, Ch. 550, in effect January 1, 1982.

Note.—Section 3 of Stats. 1981, Ch. 550, provided it is the intent of the Legislature that actions pursuant to Section 4808 of the Revenue and Taxation Code be quickly heard and determined in both the trial court and the appellate courts in order that final tax liabilities may be determined at the earliest possible moment. Section 4 provided if any section, part, clause, or phrase hereof is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining sections, parts, clauses, and phrases shall not be affected but will remain in full force and effect.

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