Prop 13 and the Assessor’s Role

California’s system of property taxation under Article XIIIA of the state Constitution, commonly referred to as Proposition 13, values property at its 1975 fair market value with annual increases limited to the inflation rate, as measured by the California Consumer Price Index, or 2%, whichever is less.  Subsequently, real property is reappraised for tax purposes only when: 

  • A change in ownership occurs
  • New construction is completed
  • New construction is unfinished on the lien date (January 1)
  • Market value declines below Proposition 13 factored value on the lien date. (ref. Art XIIIA of the State Constitution, R&T 51)

If none of these things occurs, the assessed value of a property should increase by no more than 2% per year. 

Since property taxes are calculated on the value of the property being taxed, it is vital to accurately determine the value of the various kinds of property subject to taxation. It is also necessary to locate and describe the property being taxed so that the property can be reported and valued. The valuation function for property tax purposes rests with the elected County Assessor and the staff of the Assessor's office. 

It is my opinion that the Assessor is elected by the voters of the County so that the position is not subject to pressure from the governing body of the county, cities or school and special districts to increase assessments in order to generate more revenue. The Assessor works for all the voters and property owners in the county and is charged with preparing fair and correct valuations based on objective market standards and in accordance with all legal provisions. 

Assessor’s Primary Responsibilities:

Locate all taxable property

  • Interpret legal descriptions, create and maintain parcel, parcel  maps, and GIS data

Identify the owner for property tax assessment purposes

  • Analyze recorded documents and unrecorded events and apply change in ownership laws

Determine the assessed value of all taxable property

  • Appraisal
  • Audit
  • Exclusions & Exemptions

Publish annual and supplemental property tax rolls

  • Data and record accuracy and maintenance
  • Customer service

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