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Frequently Asked Questions

Appeals

  • If I do not agree with my assessment, can I appeal?

    Yes. First, you should consider contacting the Assessor’s Office for an informal review to discuss the basis for the value. Differences over the valuation of property that cannot be resolved by discussion with the Assessor's Office require filing a formal appeal which is heard by the Assessment Appeals Board. For additional filing information, visit the Alpine County Board of Equalization page or contact the Alpine County Clerk at (530) 694-2281.  For more information regarding appeals, visit our Taxpayer's Remedies page or the State Board of Equalization's FAQ page. You may also want to visit our Decrease My Taxes page for other ways to save money.


Assessments
  • I received a “Notice of Escaped Assessment”. What is an escaped assessment, and does it mean I owe more taxes?

    Occasionally the Assessor must make a correction to an assessed value after an assessment roll (a list of all property in the county together with their assessed values) has been completed and turned over to the Auditor-Controller and then to the Tax Collector for billing. These corrections or changes to an assessed value are known as “escaped assessments”. These corrections could be the result of an error by the Assessor’s office or by the property owner. An example would be the Assessor’s office not assessing new construction in a timely manner or the property owner building an addition without obtaining a building permit, therefore, the Assessor’s office was not aware of the new construction.

    Since escaped assessments always deal with value that should have been on the tax roll for a particular year but wasn’t, additional taxes may be due but some escaped assessments will lower your tax obligation. However, the current owner will not be responsible for taxes on any escape assessment that covers a time period before they acquired the property. 

     
  • The assessed value of my property increased more than 2 percent this year. There was no change of ownership or new construction. Doesn’t Proposition 13 limit annual increases in value to 2 percent?

    Under Proposition 13, base year values may not be increased more than 2% per year. A property receiving a Proposition 8 adjustment is not restricted to the 2% increase so long as the new value doesn't exceed the factored Proposition 13 base year value. For example, in a situation where a property’s market value increased more than 15%, but the market value is still below the factored Proposition 13 base year value, the new increased Proposition 8 value will be enrolled. Additional information regarding Prop 8 is available on this State Board of Equalization News Release.
     
  • What is a “Proposition 8” value?

    Sometimes the market value of a property on January 1 has fallen below the Prop 13 adjusted base year value. In this situation the Assessor has the authority to reduce the assessed value to the current market value. This is sometimes referred to as a “Proposition 8” assessment, after the November 1978 proposition that amended Article XIII A to allow these reductions in value.
     
  • Does the sale price mean the market value, if so, why are you taxing me on $300,000 when I only paid $200,000?

    This is a very common misconception. The sale price is presumed to be market value but only if the definition of market value is met.

    Typically, property that is purchased from a Foreclosure, Short Sale or Auction is missing one or more of the conditions stipulated in the definition of market value.


    Definitions of market value, as follows:


    In addition to the meaning ascribed to them in the Revenue and Taxation Code, the words "full value," "full cash value," "cash value," "actual value," and "fair market value" mean the price at which a property, if exposed for sale in the open market with a reasonable time for the seller to find a purchaser, would transfer for cash or its equivalent under prevailing market conditions between parties who have knowledge of the uses to which the property may be put, both seeking to maximize their gains and neither being in a position to take advantage of the exigencies of the other.

    In short, market value is the value in exchange under certain stipulated conditions. Each selling price an appraiser uses as an indicator of market value should be investigated to determine whether these conditions were present at the time of the sale. If any of the conditions stipulated in the definition of market value is absent, the appraiser must determine whether—and to what extent—this influenced the selling price. Important aspects of the relationship between fair market value and open market conditions covered in the above definitions are:

    • The amount the property would bring in cash or its equivalent
    • Exposure on an open market for a sufficient amount of time
    • Neither the buyer nor the seller able to take advantage of the exigencies of the other
    • Both parties seeking to maximize their gains
    • Both buyer and the seller having full knowledge of the property and acting prudently


    If these conditions are not met, your base year value will be set at market value based on our appraisal only if there is a preponderance of evidence that indicates the property would have sold for at least 5% more or 5% less than the reported sale price. 
  • How do you estimate market value?

    When there is an active market for the type of property being appraised, we compare it to similar properties that were recently purchased. The process can involve anything from a simple comparison of prices adjusted for any significant physical and location differences to a complex analysis of the rate of return investors expect for properties with similar income-generating potential. If there are not enough recent sales from which to draw a conclusion, the appraisal would be based on an analysis of the current replacement cost, including typical overhead and profit, and any necessary adjustments for depreciation. 
     
  • If a home was purchased in 1975, when will the next increase in property value take place?

    Under Prop 13, there will be no increase except the 2% per year. If there is a change of ownership or new construction, this may require a re-appraisal, which could increase the value.
     
  • If my property is damaged in a fire, is this taken into consideration when appraising the property?

    Yes. If the loss was over $10,000, and if the Assessor has been informed of the damage, this will be taken into consideration. Other calamity damage is also taken into consideration. Disaster relief FAQ  Calamity application
     
  • What is the property tax rate that will be applied to my assessed value?

    Proposition 13 limits the general property tax rate to 1 percent of the assessed value, plus an amount for the debt service on any bonds approved by popular vote. The tax rate will vary depending on where the property is located. You can obtain the exact tax rate for a particular parcel by contacting the Alpine County Auditor-Controller’s Office at (530) 694-2286.
     
  • Why is my tax bill more than 1% of the market value of my home?

    Prop 13 allows the tax bill to include bonded indebtedness (sewer, solid waste, etc.) previously approved by the voters to be added to the 1% general tax levy. This amount will vary across the county.

     
  • Why do I have to pay more taxes than my neighbor whose house is newer and larger than mine?

    The most likely reason is that under California’s unique “Proposition 13” property tax system, the maximum assessment on real property is limited based on the value at the time it was acquired. This “base year value” cannot be increased by more than 2% each year, so it is normal for people who have owned their properties for many years to have lower assessments than neighbors who bought more recently. The only other time a property’s assessment would reflect its current market value is if market value were to fall below the Prop 13 value limitation at some point in the future.

  • I pay a fee/rent to the Forest Service for my leased cabin, why do I have to pay taxes for it?

    Taxable Possessory Interests in Public, Non-Taxable Property
  • Can I sell my home in Alpine County and move my base year value to my new home in Alpine County?

    Yes, if you are at least 55 years of age and it is your principle place of residence and it meets the other criteria specified on the claim form. Please read the general information on the claim form to see if you qualify.


Change of Ownership

  • Why did you reappraise my property when it didn’t change ownership?

    A number of transactions are legally excluded from the meaning of the term “change of ownership”, but we can’t apply those exclusions without first verifying that all requirements have been met and the proper application (if required) has been filed. For example, if you simply added your spouse on title, but you have different last names, we will need a copy of your marriage certificate. If you had to add or remove someone from title so you could refinance or get a new loan on the property, we will need verification from the lender or a signed affidavit from you. If you transfer title into your trust, partnership, corporation or LLC, we may need copies of the relevant documents showing no one else has an ownership interest. Call our office immediately if you believe your property should not have been reappraised.
     
  • In a divorce situation, does the change of ownership trigger a reappraisal?

    No. All transfers between husband and wife are excluded from reappraisal.
     
  • I would like to add my son as joint tenant. Will the property be reappraised?

    No. This is not a change of ownership requiring a reappraisal under the present law; however, you may need to apply for the proposition 58 exclusion.
     
  •  If I transfer title of my property to a legal entity will it be reassessed?

    In general, the transfer of any interest in real property to a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, or other legal entity is a change of ownership of the interest transferred and will be reassessed. Exception: Transfers between individuals and legal entities or between legal entities which result solely in a change in the method of holding title and in which the proportional ownership interest remain the same after the transfer are not subject to reappraisal. If this applies, the property owner will be required to provide documentation such as articles of incorporation, articles of organization, or partnership agreements to show that no proportional interest change took place.
     
  • Where can forms to transfer title or a deed of reconveyance be located?

    Legal forms can usually be found at stationary stores or other businesses that carry legal forms. Some forms can also be found on the Sacramento County Public Law Library website.

     

Damaged Property

  • If my property is damaged in a fire or flood, is this taken into consideration when appraising the property?

    Yes. If the loss was over $10,000, and if the Assessor has been informed of the damage, this will be taken into consideration. Other calamity damage is also taken into consideration. Disaster relief FAQ  Calamity Application

     

Exemptions and Exclusions
  • If purchasing a new home, is the Disabled Veteran’s Exemption automatically transferred to the new property?

    No. Contact the exemptions section at the Assessor’s office at (530) 694-2283 and request the appropriate forms.
     
  • What is a homeowner’s exemption and when is it due?

    A homeowner’s exemption is a free benefit to homeowners who occupy the property as their principal residence as of January 1st of any given year. The exemption reduces the taxable value by $7,000; therefore, saving approximately $70 on the tax bill. To receive the full $7,000 for the first year or the Supplemental, the homeowner’s exemption form must be received by February 15th or the 30th day following the date of the notice of supplemental assessment. Look at your tax bill, contact our office or search your property online to see if you are currently receiving a $7,000 exemption on your property taxes. Please review the form to see if you qualify for the exemption. 
     
  • I would like to add my son as joint tenant. Will the property be reappraised?

    No. This is not a change of ownership requiring a reappraisal under the present law; however, you may need to apply for the proposition 58 exclusion.
  • If I purchase a new home in Alpine County, can I transfer my Base Year Value from the house I sold in another county to my new home in Alpine County?

    No. Alpine County Board of Supervisors did not pass an ordinance to allow that.
  • Can I sell my home in Alpine County and move my base year value to my new home in Alpine County?

    Yes, if you are at least 55 years of age and it is your principle place of residence and it meets the other criteria specified on the claim form. Please read the general information on the claim form to see if you qualify.


Improvements 

  • I recently bought my home and haven’t done any improvements. Why is my assessment notice showing improvements?
     

    Tax law requires the separation the value between the land and the improvements. The improvement value is for the structure and/or septic and/or portion of the well that is added to the land.
      
  • Why do you show my house having 2,543 square feet when the builder told me it only has 2,516 square feet?

    Under guidelines issued by the State Board of Equalization, we round building measurements to the nearest foot. The square footage shown in our records is therefore rarely the same as the figure calculated by the architect. All building data we maintain is for assessment purposes only and a minor difference such as this would have no impact on value.

     

Mailing Address

  • Why aren’t you using my correct mailing address?

    When a deed is recorded to transfer title to a property, there is a section on the deed to indicate the mailing address to be used for property tax purposes. This address is used until you sign a request for a change of address. So if the records are not correct, it is because 1) the address written on the deed was not correct, 2) a mistake was made inputting the information into the computer system, or 3) notification of a different address was not received. Regardless of the reason, contact us in writing immediately so we can update the records. If you own property in Alpine County, it is important to keep your current mailing address on file with the Assessor’s Office to assure delivery of important assessment notices. Assessor mailing address information is also passed to the Treasurer-Tax Collector for the purpose of mailing property tax bills.

    Mailing address changes may only be made by the owner of record or their pre-designated agent and must be in writing.  Change of Address forms are available at the Assessor’s Office or requests may be made via correspondence to the Assessor’s Office or in our document center here.  Please include the following:
     

    • Assessor’s Parcel Number or physical address of the property
    • New mailing address
    • Signature of the property owner or agent
    • Printed name of the owner or agent
    • Date

    Please mail your request to: 

    Office of the Assessor
    PO Box 155

    Markleeville, CA 96120  


Supplemental Assessment

  • What causes a supplemental assessment?

    Supplemental assessments are generated due to qualifying changes of ownership or new construction. Well known types of change of ownership are those changes involving a buyer and a seller. However, change of ownership situations also include removing or adding someone’s name from title even when monetary consideration is not exchanged. Typical new construction events may include building a new home, adding on to an existing home, or adding a well or septic. However, new construction can be considered adding any real property improvements that did not previously exist.
     
  • I received a “Notice of Supplemental Assessment”. What is a supplemental assessment and does it mean I owe more taxes?

    Under Proposition 13, a new base year value is established for the portion of a property that undergoes a “change of ownership”, and a separate base year value is established for any “new construction” completed after a change of ownership. As of July 1, 1983, taxes are based on these new values starting on the first day of the following month. These taxes come in the form of a supplemental assessment, which is determined by taking the new value and subtracting the total value already assessed to previous owners for that time period. If the new value is higher than the total value already assessed, additional taxes will be due. However, if the new value is less than the total value already assessed, taxes will be refunded.
     
  • I recently added a bedroom to my home. Will you reappraise the whole property or just the value of the new bedroom?

    Only the new addition (bedroom) will be assessed, which will add to the current value. The same will apply for a garage, air conditioning, or other major improvements.
     
  • Why did you reappraise my property when it didn’t change ownership?

    A number of transactions are legally excluded from the meaning of the term “change of ownership”, but we can’t apply those exclusions without first verifying that all requirements have been met and the proper application (if required) has been filed. For example, if you simply added your spouse on title, but you have different last names, we will need a copy of your marriage certificate. If you had to add or remove someone from title so you could refinance or get a new loan on the property, we will need verification from the lender or a signed affidavit from you. If you transfer title into your trust, partnership, corporation or LLC, we may need copies of the relevant documents showing no one else has an ownership interest. Call your local district office immediately if you believe your property should not have been reappraised. 
     
  • My new home was assessed for more than my construction cost. Why?

    The law requires the Assessor to appraise new construction at fair market value. Fair market value is the price that the property would bring if it were exposed for sale on the open market. We determine fair market value for single family residences by analyzing sales of homes similar to the one being appraised.
     
  • Will painting or making roof repairs cause a reappraisal?

    No. These items are considered normal maintenance. Items requiring a building permit will be appraised. 
     
  • What is a supplemental tax bill?

    State law requires the Assessor to reappraise property upon a change of ownership or new construction. The supplemental assessment reflects the difference between the new assessed value and the old or prior assessed value. If the property is reassessed at a higher value than the old assessed value, a supplemental bill will be issued. If the property is reassessed at a lower value than the old assessed value, a refund will be issued. Changes in ownership or new construction occurring from June 1 to Dec 31 will generate one bill covering a single fiscal year. The taxes are based on the number of months left in the fiscal year from the date of ownership change or the new construction completion date. If the change of ownership or new construction occurs between January 1 and May 31, two supplemental tax bills would be issued to cover changes for two fiscal years. The first bill would be from the date of the transaction for the remainder of the fiscal year; the second bill would be for the next fiscal year. Supplemental tax bills are mailed directly to the property owner and are the owner’s responsibility. In general, they are not paid out of your impound account. Please check with your lender.
     
  • I just purchased my property and I am supposed to receive a supplemental tax bill. Can you tell me how much that will be?

    Not until we re assess the property. At that point, we will know the new property value and generate a Supplemental Assessment Notice that will be mailed to you. You might be able to get an idea of your supplemental by using the supplemental calculator (must have the APN number or address to use).

     

Taxes

  • How much are my taxes and when will I get my bill?

    The Assessor does not compute the actual amount of taxes due or send you a tax bill. If you need to know the amount due on a bill that has already been issued, contact the Tax Collector at (530) 694-2286. Future tax bills will be based on 1% of the assessed value, plus the current payment on any bonded indebtedness that existed at the time Proposition 13 passed, plus any “special assessments”. Special assessments are levied by various government agencies and are generally a flat fee as opposed to being based on value. Examples would include fees for payments on Mello-Roos bonds that were issued to finance the construction of infrastructure for a new development

    Annual tax bills are mailed in late September or early October each year. Supplemental tax bills are mailed at least 45 days after the notice of supplemental assessment was mailed. Tax bills related to corrected assessments are generally mailed within 60 days of the notice of the corrected assessment
     
  • When is the next tax sale?

    To verify this information, contact the Alpine County Tax Collector at (530) 694-2286. 
     
  • My credit report shows a tax lien. Where can I obtain information regarding this?

    If it is a property tax lien, contact the Alpine County Tax Collector at (530) 694-2286. Other type of liens can be researched at the Alpine County Recorder's office.
     
  • I sold this property years ago. Why are you still sending me tax bills?

    The Assessor’s Office does not send out tax bills. The bill will come from the Tax Collector for one of two reasons. Either we failed to update our records after a deed transferring real property was recorded, or the property was transferred by means other than a recorded deed and no one notified us. Personal property (including boats, aircraft, manufactured homes, and business property) is not transferred by a deed, so it is imperative that you notify us as soon as possible after selling it. The same is true for real property transactions in which a deed is not recorded until the buyer has paid the seller in full and/or satisfied any other conditions of the sale.
  • I sold my boat. Why have I gotten a tax bill?

    The Assessor’s Office does not send out tax bills. The bill will come from the Tax Collector for one of two reasons. Either we failed to update our records after the new owner registered the boat with the DMV, or they didn't re register it with the DMV. Personal property (including boats, aircraft, manufactured homes, and business property) is not transferred by a deed, so it is imperative that you notify the Assessor's Office as soon as possible after selling it. Unlike real property, the ownership, value and tax obligation is set on January 1st of the year. Even though you may not receive the tax bill till July or August, the person owning the boat prior to January 1st is responsible for the tax bill.  


Transfer of Title

  • How do I transfer title?

     

    Legal Advice Limitation 

     

    The Assessor’s Office is prohibited from giving legal advice.  It may be advisable to consult an attorney because of the legal aspects involved in holding title to property or transferring title. 

     

    How To Transfer Title

     

    Name changed to the tax records on real property cannot be made by request, only by documents recorded in the Office of the Alpine County Recorder.

     

    To change the name(s) on real property, the present owner(s) may execute a new deed conveying the property from the name(s) as they presently appear, to the name(s) that will be used to hold title.  Full names of all parties must be used.  The new deed should state how title will be held, i.e., joint tenants, tenant in common, etc.  The new deed must be acknowledged by a Notary Public. 

     

    Deed forms may be obtained from stationery stores that carry legal forms or from the Sacramento County Public Law Library website.

     

    The deed must be recorded in the county where the property is located.  There is a fee for the recording. 

     

    A Preliminary Change of Ownership Report should be completed, signed, and returned with the document.  If it is not completed and submitted, an additional fee of $20.00 will be required for recording.  If you need assistance in completing this form, call (530) 694-2283.

     

    For recording in Alpine County, please contact the Recorder's Office for information regarding procedures at (530) 694-2283. Additional information is on our Recorder's page.