Frequently Asked Property Tax Questions

Question 1: Will I receive a tax bill if I pay taxes through an impound account?

If your taxes are paid through an impound account, your lender will receive your annual tax bill and you will receive an information copy. Supplemental tax bills, however, are not sent to your lender; they are mailed directly to you. It is your responsibility to contact your lender to determine who will pay the supplemental tax bill, you or your lender.

Question 2: What determines the amount of taxes that I pay?

The County Assessor determines the taxable value of your property. Generally, the taxable value is the cash or market value at time of transfer. This value increases not more than 2% per year until the property is resold or any new construction is completed, at which time the portion which changes must be reassessed. Additional information may be obtained from the County Assessor at 805-568-2550.

After the Assessor has determined the property value, the Auditor-Controller applies the appropriate tax rates, which include: the general tax levy, locally voted special taxes, and any city or district assessments.  After applying the tax rates, the Auditor-Controller calculates the total tax amount. The Treasurer-Tax Collector prepares property tax statements based on the Auditor-Controller's calculations, mails the tax statements and collects the taxes.

Question 3: What can I do if I disagree with the valuation the County Assessor has placed on my property?

You should first discuss the matter with the Assessor's Office and if the question is not resolved to your satisfaction there is an Assessment Appeals Board established for the purpose of reviewing taxable values and such matters. Appeals on regular assessments must be filed each year between July 2 and November 30. The valuation information may be obtained from the Assessor's Office by July 1 each year. If you choose to appeal your assessment, you should nonetheless pay the tax installment presently due and payable by the appropriate deadline. If your appeal is granted a refund will be made. If you have not made a timely payment, you may incur penalties while the case is in appeals.

Question 4: What are the consequences if I fail to make a timely payment?

If you do not pay the first installment of your annual tax bill at the Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on December 10 * or payment is not postmarked by that date, then the taxes become delinquent and a 10% delinquent penalty is added to any unpaid balance. If you fail to pay the second installment by 5 p.m. on April 10,* or payment is not postmarked by that date, it becomes delinquent and a 10% penalty plus a charge of $30.00 is added to the unpaid balance. If you fail to pay either or both installments at the Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on June 30, or payment is not postmarked by that date, then the property becomes tax defaulted and additional penalties and costs accrue. Please see page on Delinquent Property Taxes for full information.

If you fail to pay the installments of your supplemental taxes by the applicable delinquency dates, the same penalties accrue as for delinquent secured taxes. Please see page on Supplemental Property Taxes for more information.

*If either December 10 or April 10 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 P.M. the next business day.

Question 5: Will payment of part of current taxes stop property from becoming tax-defaulted on June 30?

ANY unpaid taxes as of June 30 will cause the property to become tax defaulted and further penalties and costs will accrue. Please see the page on Delinquent Property Taxes for more information.

Question 6: When will I receive my property tax bill?

Annual secured Property tax bills are mailed during October of each year to the owner of record (as of January 1st). As a courtesy, a tax bill will be mailed to the new owner of the property if a deed change occurs after the first of the year. Depending on when the property is transferred, new owners should contact their title company or review their closing statement to determine who is responsible for paying the taxes. However, unpaid taxes will continue to accrue against the property.

Question 7: When are my property tax payments due?

Due dates for annual secured taxes in Santa Barbara County are as follows: taxes for the first installment are due November 1 and considered late after December 10. Taxes for the second installment are due February 1 and considered late after April 10. You may pay both installments, if you choose, by December 10. If you choose to pay the total amount, it must be paid by December 10.

Question 8: What if I miss the deadline for my tax payment?

There is a 10% penalty for late mail-in payments of the first or second installments if the envelope is not postmarked by December 10 and April 10, respectively. There is also a $30 charge for a late 2nd installment payment. If you mail your payment on time, but the Post Office fails to postmark it by those dates, it will be considered a late payment. Office meter dates are not acceptable for mail-in payments.

Question 9: Where can I find definitions of terms used on my tax bill?

Check our online glossary section for a definition of terms on your tax bill.

Question 10: As a Santa Barbara County property owner, am I eligible for special tax exemptions?

There are several exemptions for property owners with special circumstances that must be filed with the County Assessor's Office.

Builders' Exemption

There is an exclusion from the supplemental assessment for a new construction. The property must be held for sale, and the builder must file the necessary claim form with the Assessor prior to or within 30 days from, the start of construction. If the form isn't filed, a supplemental assessment is made to the builder upon completion of the construction. If the form is filed, a supplemental assessment is not made until the property is sold to the new owner.

Homeowners' Exemption

If you own a home and occupy it as your principal place of residence as of January 1, you may apply for an exemption of $7,000 of your assessed value. New property owners should automatically receive an exemption application in the mail. A Homeowners' Exemption also may apply to a supplemental assessment if the property was not previously receiving a Homeowners' Exemption on the regular Assessment Roll.

Veterans' Exemption

To be eligible for a Veterans' Exemption, a veteran must have been a resident of California as of January 1. Also, a single veteran or a non-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran must not have assets valued at more than $5,000. A married veteran must not have assets valued at more than $10,000.

Disabled Veterans' Exemption

If you are a California veteran who is rated 100% disabled, blind or a paraplegic due to service-connected disability while in the armed forces (or if you are the non-remarried surviving spouse of such a veteran or one who died of service-connected causes while on active duty) you may be eligible for an exemption off the assessed value of your home.

Institutional Exemptions

Property used exclusively for a church, college, cemetery, museum, school or library may qualify for an exemption. Properties owned and used exclusively by a non-profit religious, charitable, scientific or hospital corporation are also eligible. A claim must be filed with the Assessor.

State Sponsored Programs

Property Tax Assistance for Senior Citizens, Blind, or Disabled Persons
The state budget did not include funding for the Gonzalves-Deukmejian-Petris Senior Citizens Property Tax Assistance law, which provides direct cash assistance. The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) will not issue Homeowner and Renter Assistance (HRA) Program instruction booklets and will not accept HRA claims. For the most current information on the HRA program, go to http://ftb.ca.gov and search for hra.
If you have any questions, call 916.845.2119 or fax 916.845.4022

Property Tax Postponement for Senior Citizens, Blind, or Disabled Persons
In September 2014, Assembly Bill AB 2231 Chapter 703, Statutes of 2014, reinstated a revised Property Tax Postponement (PTP) program. The State Controller’s Office (SCO) will begin accepting new PTP applications beginning September 1, 2016.
Please see website at http://www.sco.ca.gov/ardtax_prop_tax_postponement.html for more information.

Question 11: Where can I pay my bill in person?

There are two offices where you can pay your property tax bill in person:

Santa Barbara Administration Building
105 East Anapamu Street Suite 109
Santa Barbara CA 93101
(805) 568-2920
Mon- Fri 8:00am- 5:00pm

Santa Maria
511 E. Lakeside Parkway, Bldg. D
Santa Maria, CA 93455
(805) 346-8330
Mon- Fri 8:00am- 5:00pm

Question 12: Where can I find information on the assessed value of my property?

The County Assessor is responsible for the appraisal and assessment of property. You can visit the County Assessor’s Web site (http://www.sbcvote.com/) for more information regarding property appraisal in Santa Barbara County. You may also contact the County Assessor's office by phone at 805-568-2550.

Question 13: What is the relationship between the County Assessor and the Tax Collector?

According to state law, the County Assessor is responsible for the appraisal and assessment of property. The Tax Collector's office is responsible for billing and collection of taxes based on assessments. The Tax Collector has no authority over the amount of assessment.

Question 14: How do I appeal the assessed value of my property?

If you disagree with the assessed value as shown on the tax bill, you have the right to an informal assessment review for the following year by contacting the County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor’s Office by January 1. If the taxpayer and the assessor are unable to reach an agreement throught the informal review, the taxpayer has the right to file an application for reduction in assessment with the county assessment appeals board or the board of equalization, as applicable. The filing period is July 2 through November 30. Forms are available from the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board, 105 E. Anapamu Street, Room 407, Santa Barbara CA 93101, or by phoning 805-568-2240.

Question 15: How do I change my mailing address for property tax bills?

You must send your change of address in writing, signed by the property owner, to the Assessor's office. You may download the change of address form from Assessor's site here.  Include the Parcel Number (APN) of all properties included in the mailing address change.

Question 16: How do I find out about tax sales in Santa Barbara County?

Sales of tax defaulted properties occur rarely in Santa Barbara County. The best way to be informed of these tax sales is to continue to monitor this website.

The County of Santa Barbara does not sell Tax Lien Certificates. There is currently no county within California which sells Tax Lien Certificates. Some other states, such as Texas and Arizona, may sell Tax Lien Certificates, but this is not yet a practice within the state of California.

Specific information on Tax Sales can be viewed by clicking on Current Tax Sale Information.

The County of Santa Barbara does not sell Tax Lien Certificates. There is currently no county within California which sells Tax Lien Certificates. Some other states, such as Texas and Arizona, may sell Tax Lien Certificates, but this is not yet a practice within the state of California.