Santa Barbara County contains a wealth of land, buildings, and taxable personal
property. The property tax revenues generated from these assets are vital to maintaining
all county operations and public services.
for an overview of the property tax cycle that involves
three departments: Assessor, Treasurer Tax-Collector and Auditor-Controller.
The Assessors Office identifies, maps, inspects, and calculates assessed value for
these properties (typically taxed at 1% of assessed value). Each year, the Assessors
staff creates the official record of taxable property (local assessment roll), shares
it with the-Auditor Controller and Tax Collector, and makes it publicly available.
Real property (land and structures) is appraised (inspected and evaluated) and assessed
(charged with property tax) when it is first identified or created. Certain later
changes in ownership or construction may trigger a supplemental assessment, for
example, change of ownership, death of a real property owner, new construction or
additions; major damage or loss.
As of each lien date on January 1, declining market values, change to a charitable
use, or participation in a land conservation contract may change the assessed value.
Once a parcel (a unique unit of land/buildings, identified by a parcel number or
APN) has been assessed, the owner may qualify by applying for certain exemptions
(reductions of tax), such as owners who are veterans, seniors, disabled, low-income,
living in the home as a principal residence, or using the property for non-profit
or other charitable purposes. The Assessors Office can help you learn if you qualify
for these or other forms of tax relief. Call (805) 568-2550 for additional information.
Personal property (business property, boats, and planes) is reassessed each year,
based on the owners property statement, which are filed by April 1.
Proposition 13 is a Constitutional amendment that limits the valuation and taxation
of property in California. It was passed by the voters in June, 1978. Under Proposition
13, real property is reappraised only when a change in ownership occurs, or when
new construction takes place. A change in ownership occurs when there is a transfer
of property, whether the transfer is a purchase, a gift, an inheritance, a foreclosure,
the addition or deletion of an owner, or any other means. New construction is any
improvement to property that is not normal maintenance.
Proposition 13 restricts both the tax rate and the rate of increase in valuation
of real property as follows:
The maximum amount of property tax cannot exceed 1% of a property's taxable value,
plus bonds approved by the voters, service fees, improvement bonds and special assessments.
A property's original base value is its 1975-76 market value. This value is automatically
increased by a maximum of 2% annually (or less if the California cost of living
rate is less than 2%). A new base value is set whenever there is a change in ownership
or new construction. This base value is also increased by a maximum of 2% each year.
Change In Ownership Reappraisals:
When a transfer occurs, the Assessor receives a copy of the deed and determines
if a reappraisal is required under State law. If required, an appraisal is made
to determine the new market value of the property as of the date of transfer. The
actual sales price is a strong indicator of value, but it is not the only factor
used in establishing the assessed market value. Sales of comparable properties are
also indicators of value that the Assessor relies on.
The date of reappraisal is generally the recording date of the deed that transfers
ownership. However, the reappraisal of property acquired by inheritance from an
estate or living trust occurs as of the date of death of the former owner, not as
of the date of distribution to the beneficiary.
The property owner is notified of the new assessment and has the right to appeal
this value. Property owners who feel that their new assessed values are incorrect
should contact the Assessor to discuss the issue prior to filing a formal assessment
Preliminary Change In Ownership Report:
State law requires the transferee/buyer of a property to file a "Preliminary Change
in Ownership Report" with the Santa Barbara County Recorder when recording certain
documents. A $20 fee will be charged if the completed form is not filed at the time
of recording. If the form is not filed, the Assessor is then required to mail the
property owner a further request for the same information. This form is used to
assist in the appraisal of property and is not open for public inspection.
The "Preliminary Change of Ownership Report" form may be obtained via our Assessor's
Forms section on this website.
New Construction Reappraisal:
Copies of all building permits are forwarded to the Assessor by all permitting agencies
in the County. Normal maintenance work does not create a reappraisal. In appraising
new construction, the market value of the new construction is determined and is
then added to the existing value of the property. The value of the existing property
increases only by the amount of the addition or new construction.
The property owner is notified of the value of the new construction and has the
right to appeal this value. Property owners who feel that their new assessed values
are incorrect should contact the Assessor to discuss the issue prior to filing a
formal assessment appeal.
Some types of new construction may be excluded from reappraisal:
retrofitting of unreinforced masonry buildings
||the addition of fire sprinklers
||certain types of new construction for the residence of a disabled person
Owners who feel that their new construction may fall into these categories should
contact our office.
Whenever there is a reappraisal due to a change in ownership or due to the completion
of new construction, a Supplemental Assessment is issued. This assessment is in
addition to the regular tax bill. The supplemental tax bill reflects the difference
between the prior assessed value and the new assessment. This value is prorated
based on the number of months remaining in the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
If the new assessment is lower that the prior assessed value, a supplemental refund
may be generated. Supplemental bills or refunds are mailed to the owner of record
and not to the lender if there is an impound account.
Prior to the issuance of the supplemental bill, notification of the increase or
decrease in value is sent to the owner at the address of record. The owner has the
right to appeal the value within 60 days of the date of the notice.
If a property owner has discussed his assessment with our office and still feels
that their property is over-assessed, he or she may file a formal assessment appeal.
Appeals on regular assessments must be filed between July 2 and November 30. Appeals
on supplemental assessments must be filed within 60 days of the date of the Supplemental
An independent Assessment Appeals Board has been established to hear these differences
in opinion on values. The Board is composed of private citizens appointed by the
County Board of Supervisors. They consider all evidence presented by the property
owner and the Assessor at a formal hearing. The Appeals Board then determines the
value of the property in question. If the Board orders a decline in value, this
reduction applies only to the tax bill for the year in which the application was
All appeals must be filed with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors at the County
Administration Building, 105 East Anapamu Street Suite 406, Santa Barbara, California
93101. For more information call (805)568-2248 or to view program details and access
forms on the web go to: http://www.countyofsb.org/cao/cob/services.asp
All mobilehomes purchased new after June 30, 1980, and those on permanent foundations,
are subject to property taxes. As with real property, the assessed value of mobilehomes
cannot be increased by more than 2% annually, unless there is a change in ownership
or new construction. Unless voluntarily converted to local tax assessment, mobilehomes
originally built and sold before June 30, 1980 are not subject to property taxes.
Instead, license fees paid through the State Department of Housing and Community
Development are required.
The Williamson Act-Agricultural Preserves
The Williamson Act Program enables local governments to enter into contracts with
private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural
or related open space use. Private land within locally designated agricultural preserve
areas is eligible for enrollment under contract. The minimum term for contracts
is ten years. However, since the contract term automatically renews on each anniversary
date of the contract, the actual term is essentially indefinite unless the parties
enter into a non-renewal of contract.