Frequently Asked Questions
Assessor’s Office will be closed December 25, 2023, through January 1, 2024. We will reopen on January 2, 2024.
- What is a
- State law requires the Assessor reappraise property when a change in ownership or completion of new construction occurs. A Supplemental Assessment is designed to pick up changes in assessed value that occur in the middle of a fiscal year, whether an increase or decrease. Taxes based on these value changes are prorated from the time of the change to the end of the fiscal year. This is in addition to the regular tax bill. You may be eligible for the Homeowners Exemption if the property will be your principal place residence. You must apply within 30 days of the date printed on the Notice of Supplemental Assessment.
- What is a
Separately Assessed Improvement?
- When improvements are owned by one person and the land is owned by a second person, either may file a written statement with the Assessor stating the separate ownership. The land and improvements are then not assessed to the same person. The written statement remains in effect until ownership changes or the written statement of separate ownership is canceled by one of the owners.
- What is
- Possessory Interest exists when there is a private, beneficial use of publicly owned, non-taxable property. Possessory Interests include such things as:
- A boat dock built on a public lake
- A cabin on forest service land
- Grazing rights on Federal or State land
- Private companies leasing government buildings
- Tenants, concessionaires, and exhibitors at the Fresno Fairgrounds
- A rental car agency at an airport
- What is an
- An escape assessment is a retroactive assessment intended to correct an omission or error that caused taxable property to be under assessed or not assessed at all. Once such an omission or error occurs, the property escapes assessment until the error is discovered and corrected. The Assessor is required to value the property upon discovering the error and process appropriate escape assessments for the prior years.
- I received a letter stating that there was a problem identifying my parcel. Do I need to re-record a new deed even though I used a title company?
- We sometimes have to write to property owners when the legal description is not 'definite and certain'. This means it is unclear or uncertain where your property lies or how the property's shape is defined. If we transfer your property 'per intent', you may not have clear title in a court of law. If you used a title company, that should be your first stop in getting the issue resolved. If you did not use a title company, you may need to seek legal help.
- Why did I receive a Form 571-L, Business Property Statement?
- You were sent a statement because our records indicate that you were in business on January 1. The Assessor is required to assess any taxable business personal property in your possession on that date.
- Why do I have to pay taxes on my Business Property?
- The California Constitution states in part,
Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or the laws of the US, (a) All property is taxable. That means all forms of tangible property are taxable in California unless otherwise exempted. The Assessor must assess business personal property because the law requires us to.
- I don't own the building my business is in. Do I still need to fill out the property statement?
- Yes. Even if you don't own the building where your business is located, you must still file the property statement. It is used to report business personal property (equipment, supplies, etc.) you do own. You must also complete any related schedules that apply to your particular business. Tenant-owned improvements are reported on Schedule B.
- What happens if I don't return the property statement?
- Failure to file as required by law or requested by the Assessor triggers an estimate of the value of personal property based on the best information available. The estimate may be based on similar businesses. Our office may also perform a field inspection to estimate the value as of lien date, January 1. A penalty of 10 percent is also added to any assessment made as a result of a failure to file the property statements.
- I was not open for business on January 1. Do I still have to complete the property statement?
- Yes. A business does not have to be open for its assets to be subject to assessment. For example, on January 1st, a new pizza parlor is under construction and nearly ready for its grand opening. Even though the pizza parlor was not open for business on January 1, taxable business personal property, such as furniture and ovens, were in the owner's possession.
- If the business is no longer in operation, the property statement still needs to be signed and returned to the Assessor. Include a note on the statement stating that the business was closed so that the Assessor will not continue to assess you. Include the date you went out of business as well as what happened to any equipment owned or used by the business. If any of the property was sold to another person or business, indicate the new owners name and address.
- Can I just write
Same as Last Year on the property statement and return it?
- No. You must report personal property holdings in detail. If no equipment was purchased or sold, then refer to your prior year filing in order to be consistent in completing the current property statement. If you failed to keep a copy of the prior year filing, you or your agent can request copies. If an agent is requesting copies or other information, we need a letter of authorization from you.
- My boat is not in Fresno County. Why are you assessing it?
- Boats and aircraft are assessed at the
place of documentation unless kept elsewhere and notice has been sent to the Assessor. Temporary absences of a few months duration would not affect this. If you feel you are being improperly assessed in Fresno County, then contact us.
- I sold my boat, so why am I getting a tax bill for it?
- Liability for taxes is for the owner as of 12:01 a.m. on January 1 each year. The bill is issued to the owner of record at that time, and that person is liable for the taxes even if the boat was sold soon after that date. If the boat was sold just before the lien date (December 10, for example), the new owner would be liable for the bill. If you were not the owner on January 1 but the bill was issued in your name, then you need to contact us to resolve that problem.
- How do I find my property lines?
- If you are trying to locate your property corners for any legal purpose, you should hire a surveyor. The Assessor's office cannot determine your shared fence line (property line). If you have a dispute with your neighbor about the placement of a fence, this office cannot resolve it. For any other purpose, please come into our office and request assistance from someone in mapping. Based on the legal description for your property, we can give you a general idea of your parcel's shape and location.
- Is my property inside city limits or in the county?
- The six-digit Tax Rate Area (TRA) code on your tax bill and the annual assessment roll shows if it is within city boundaries. The first three (3) digits are the primary or city code. Each primary code number is for a specific incorporated city. All other primary codes other than 001 through 015 are areas outside of city limits.
- 010-SAN JOAQUIN
- 014-ORANGE COVE
- Why did my APN number change?
- Sometimes it is necessary to administratively change your APN due to our map page layout and mainframe computer limitations. Other reasons are Lot Line Adjustments, Parcel Map Waivers, Agricultural Land Contracts, Tax Rate Code changes, and many others.
- How do I change the name on the tax bill?
- In order to change the name as it appears on assessment records, a new deed must be recorded. Record the notarized deed in the Fresno County Recorder's Office along with a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report. We recommend that you seek legal advice and assistance from an attorney before filling documents that affect the ownership of your property.
- What is the difference between an
- Some properties are exempt from taxation under the California Constitution. The value placed on the property for tax purposes is reduced by the amount exempt from taxes. The amount of the exemption may only be a portion of the taxable value. The most common exemptions are the Homeowner's Exemption, Religious Exemption, and Disabled Veterans' Exemption.
- The Assessor is required to assess property with an ownership change or there is new construction, which usually results in an increase in property taxes. There are some changes in ownership that are specifically excluded from reassessment such as transfers between spouses, registered domestic partners, or between parents and children. New construction such as retrofitting a building to be handicapped accessible is not taxable. An exclusion keeps the reassessment from taking place.
- Can I apply for disaster relief?
- Property destroyed by a calamity (i.e., fire, flood, earthquake) may be eligible for property tax relief. The Assessor's office will reappraise the property to reflect its damaged condition. The property will retain its previous taxable value if rebuilt similar to original condition. To qualify, you must file a calamity claim with the Assessor within 12 months and the loss must exceed $10,000 in value.
- What is the Property Tax Postponement program?
- The program allows a property owner to postpone the payment of property taxes if they meet specific requirements. Applications are filed with the California State Controller's Office, not with the Assessor.