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Assessor Division - Assessment Terminology

Ad Valorem: "According to the Value"; the amount used as the value of a property for tax purposes.

Appraiser: Assessor’s Office employee whose job is to value real and personal property for tax purposes. Position requires State Certification along with yearly continuing education.

Assessment Appeal: A request for a hearing for reduction of an assessment.

Assessor: A person elected by County voters who is required by State law to annually discover, list and value all taxable property in the County.

Base Year: The assessment year 1975-76 serves as the original base year. Thereafter, any assessment year in which the real property transfers title or has new construction becomes the base year. A property's base year value is set at this time, based on market value.

Factored Base Year Value: A property’s base value will be adjusted by no more than 2% each year, based on the California Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Improvements: Any buildings or structures existing on the land whether new or old; improvements also include certain commercial and industrial fixtures, fences, swimming pools, decks, etc.

Market Value: The amount of cash or its equivalent that a property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market, under conditions in which neither buyer nor seller are under abnormal pressure, and both buyer and seller are knowledgeable of the property's uses and restrictions (Revenue and Taxation Code Section 110). This can be simply stated as "the price at which a willing buyer and willing seller would transfer property."

New Construction: The construction of new buildings, an addition to an existing building, or the alteration of existing buildings, if the alteration converts the property to a different use or extends the economic life of the improvement.

Personal Property: Any property other than real estate, including airplanes, boats, and business property such as machinery, equipment, furniture, etc; business inventory is exempt.

Secured Property: Property on which the property taxes are a lien against real estate.

Unsecured Property: Property on which the property taxes are not a lien against the real estate on which they are located, including personal property or improvements located on leased land.

Special Assessment: Direct charges against property which are included in the total amount of your tax bill, but which are not property taxes based on the Assessor’s valuation (e.g. solid waste, service districts, bonds, fire, etc.).

State Board of Equalization: A State agency that instructs, advises, and directs Assessors as to their duties under the law.

Supplemental Assessment: An assessment which supplements the regular assessment roll; this applies to the transfers and new construction taking place after the new roll has been closed; a one-time assessment for the difference between current assessed value and previous assessed values; it can result in a refund or a bill for a period from 1 to 17 months.

Tax Base: The total taxable value in the County.

Tax Rate: The maximum ad valorem (according to the value) property tax rate is 1% of the net taxable value of property. This rate is divided among the county, cities, schools and special districts.