Frequently Asked Questions - Personal Property

Business Property Statements

  1. I need to file a Business Property Statement. Are Board-prescribed forms available on your Web site?
  2. Who is required to file the Business Property Statement for leased equipment?

Boats and Aircraft

  1. Are boats and aircraft subject to property tax?
  2. I sold my personal property (boat, aircraft, machinery, or equipment) after January 1. Shouldn’t the new owner be required to pay the property tax?
  3. Can the assessor prorate assessments or taxes between the seller and buyer of taxable personal property?
  4. Are California registered vessels owned by California residents still assessable when located outside of California waters?

Software

  1. Is software taxable?

Business Property Statements

  1. I need to file a Business Property Statement. Are Board-prescribed forms available on your Web site?

    Although the Board prescribes many types of forms for use by assessors, taxpayers must obtain the business property statement and any other required forms from the county in which the taxable property is owned, claimed, possessed, controlled or managed. This also applies to filing requirements and instructions for completing the form. A Listing of County Assessors is available on our Web site.

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  1. Who is required to file the Business Property Statement for leased equipment?

    When equipment is leased, either the lessor or the lessee may be the assessee. The law states that the assessor may assess leased property to either the lessee or the lessor, or both, whether or not there is a private agreement between the parties to the lease. However, property is not normally assessed jointly, and county requirements for the filing of business property statements vary with respect to leased equipment. Therefore, you should contact your county assessor for further information about business property statement filing requirements.

Boats and Aircraft

  1. Are boats and aircraft subject to property tax?

    Boats and aircraft are taxable and are subject to annual appraisal. Their values are determined by reviewing sales of comparable boats and airplanes. Information on their locations and ownerships is obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, on-site inspections, and other public and private sources.

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  1. I sold my personal property (boat, aircraft, machinery, or equipment) after January 1. Shouldn’t the new owner be required to pay the property tax?

    Even though you may no longer own the property, you are still liable for the taxes because you owned it on the lien date. When taxable personal property is sold subsequent to the lien date, it is the duty of the seller to pay the taxes on the property for the ensuing fiscal year.

  1. Can the assessor prorate assessments or taxes between the seller and buyer of taxable personal property?

    No. The assessor must annually assess all property in the county to the person owning it on the lien date. There is no provision in the law that allows the assessor to prorate assessments between the buyer and seller of taxable personal property that is sold in the ensuing fiscal year.

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  1. Are California registered vessels owned by California residents still assessable when located outside of California waters?

    Yes. Until such time as a vessel’s habitual place of mooring has been established elsewhere, a vessel documented in California continues to be taxable in California. That is, if the vessel is not in California, but is traveling from one place to another and has not become permanently situated in one place outside of California, the vessel is still assessable in California.

Software

  1. Is software taxable?

    Storage media for computer programs is to be valued as if there were no computer programs on such media except basic operational programs. Basic operational programs are those programs that are "fundamental and necessary to the functioning of a computer." Thus, while basic operational programs are taxable, application programs are exempt unless included as part of an unitemized package sale. Rule 152 explains how to properly determine the classification of computer software.

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