The California local government and county assessors do not have the authority to extend the April 10 property tax deadline because this can only be done by legislative act or executive order. However, beginning on April 11, taxpayers unable to pay on time for reasons related to COVID-19 may submit a request for penalty cancellation. Los Angeles has a special team set up to process requests for those who demonstrate they were affected by the outbreak.

Other counties such as San Francisco and San Mateo have similar penalty waivers available, but their due date is now May 4 due to county shelter-in-place orders. In addition, partial property tax payments are allowed in certain counties (e.g., Los Angeles) which may help reduce penalties.

Disaster Relief for California Property Taxpayers

On March 22, Gov. Newsom requested a Major Disaster Declaration for the COVID-19 preparedness and emergency response efforts. Shortly thereafter, the federal government approved the emergency declaration. For California real and personal property tax, certain counties in the state (including Los Angeles) allow for disaster relief provisions.

Due to the state of disaster, property tax assessment reductions may be available for damage caused by misfortune or calamity through no fault of the taxpayer. In some counties, "damage" may include a decrease in value caused by restricted access resulting from the misfortune or calamity.

Under California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 170, to qualify for property tax relief, taxpayers must file a claim (application for reassessment) with the county assessor within 12 months from the date of damage or destruction, or the time specified in the applicable county ordinance, whichever is later. There must be at least a $10,000 estimated loss of current market value to qualify the property for this relief.

After an application is processed by the county assessor's office, a notice of proposed new assessment will be issued. Subsequently, a separate supplemental refund will be made based on the amount of reduction. Note that the approval of the application is not automatic and the county assessor’s office may reach out with additional information requests or questions in order for them to review and process the application.

Please contact your GHJ tax advisor with any specific questions regarding property tax that your business may be considering.