When are property taxes due in Silicon Valley?
Silicon Valley property taxes are due twice a year. This region is not a governmental area, like the City of San Jose or San Mateo County. Silicon Valley includes virtually all of Santa Clara County, most of San Mateo County, and parts of Alameda County and Santa Cruz County. Property taxes, or real estate taxes, are paid to whichever California county the home or land is located. Luckily, all four of these Silicon Valley counties (Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz County, and Alameda) work off the same basic set of dates, so Silicon Valley property taxes do not have complicated due dates overall.
Fiscal year for real estate taxes and due dates:
Here’s how the system works:
The fiscal year for the county tax assessor’s office begins July 1st. Property taxes are billed in two installments. The first one covers July 1st to December 31st, and the second one begins with January 1st and runs through the last day of June.
- The property tax bill for the first installment is due November 1st and is late if not paid (or postmarked) by December 10th at 5 pm.
- The second installment of real estate taxes is due February 1st and is late if payment is not received or postmarked by April 10th at 5pm. (This one fools people because U.S. income taxes are due April 15th, so be extra careful!)
Should the delinquent date fall on a weekend or holiday, the deadline falls to 5 pm the next business day.
What happens if the payment is late?
If your payment is late, there’s a 10% penalty (and an administrative fee may be charged for processing the late payment as well). If taxes aren’t paid by the end of the fiscal year, the property is then “in default”. Eventually, if the tax isn’t paid, the home may be foreclosed on by the tax assessor’s office, though ordinarily this may take years and the owner’s credit can be damaged significantly in the process.
Other dates to know
Property taxes are mailed in September and October and should arrive before November 1st.
Property tax bills become a lien January 1st. Don’t be offended, it’s just a bill that is always due!
January 1st is also the assessment date, meaning that is the date when the county tax assessor’s office figures out the taxable value of your condo, townhouse, house, multiplex, etc. When you get your assessment, it’s the perceived value as of January 1st that year.
If you just bought your home, the tax rate applied at closing was the former owner’s rate, which normally will be lower than the new rate due. A few months later, when everyone has forgotten about it, a Supplemental Tax Bill comes in the mail. That’s a one-time “catch up” bill and after that you’ll get taxed at the rate you should have been since you bought, which is approximately 1.25% of the purchase price for the first year. After the first year, taxes can rise only 2% per year from that initial value*, even if the home appreciates much more. (This situation inclines people not to sell and is part of the reason for our housing shortage.)
This is Silicon Valley and really we ought to be able to get that calculated at closing, but for some reason, the systems in place cannot seem to muster it.
Did your home drop in value since you purchased it?
*If there’s a decline in value since a home was purchased, home owners may appeal their assessed rate and get a lower tax rate. When values rise again, the 2% constraints will not be in place as such. Real estate property taxes can jump up a lot, but not more than if they had been climbing 2% per year during the correction. But during the “down” time, your property taxes may be reduced.
If you are a past or current client of mine and your property taxes seem to be based on a value that you believe is higher than market value, please contact me and I’ll try to help you by providing “comps” (comparable sales) to bolster your case for lower property taxes.
Read more about high property tax assessments at this related post.