The types of situations triggering an individual’s right to a property tax refund have expanded in 2019, with some slight changes to California’s property taxation laws.
Individuals who might seek a property tax refund include:
- disabled veterans who are retroactively exempt from paying property taxes;
- property owners who paid taxes erroneously or more than once; and
- property owners who have had their property reassessed and the assessment value reduced, and are seeking a refund on taxes paid in that assessment year. [Calif. Revenue and Taxation Code §§205.5; 5096]
Previously, tax refunds were able to be collected and verified by:
- the person who paid the tax (including the last recorded owner) or their guardian;
- the property’s executor; or
- the property’s administrator.
With the passage of SB 1246, beginning January 1, 2019, a trustee of the person who paid the tax is also able to collect a tax refund. [Rev & T C §5097(a)(1)]
Further, the law changes authorize a property tax refund to be granted without a verified claim when:
- the property has not been transferred the same fiscal year the taxes were collected; and
- the refund is for less than $5,000. [Rev & T C §5105(a)]
Property tax refunds may only be granted without a verified claim in counties where the board of supervisors adopts a resolution or ordinance allowing such unverified claims to be granted tax refunds. [Rev & T C §5105(b)]
Verifying a claim typically takes a lot of work on behalf of the taxpayer, as the onus is on the taxpayer rather than the county to get a refund they are entitled to on property taxes. Now — in counties choosing to adopt the law change, which will likely be many due to the lack of opposition to the bill — the county will be able to simply issue a refund without the taxpayer needing to first file a claim.
Anything that simplifies the property tax collection — and refund — process is positive news. These changes make the property tax refund process more efficient, avoiding extra steps and needless headaches.