Flood, Fire, or Disaster: Property Tax Relief That May Save You Money

​Was your property damaged by a fire, flood, or disaster? If the physical damage is over $10,000, you may qualify for property tax relief for the period between the date of the damage and the date the repairs are complete. Filing a Calamity Claim will also ensure that repairs are determined to be non-asses​sable as opposed to assessable new construction. In some cases, property tax payments could be deferred.

The claim forms linked on this webpage contain “General Information" about the qualifications and instructions on how to file the claim forms for each type of tax relief.  It is recommended that you review all forms to determine which ones may apply to your circumstances and provide the best relief for you.  Here are the claim forms presently available:

  • Calamity Claims must be filed with the Assessor within 12 months of the date of damage and the damage must be valued at over $10,000.  Damages caused by neglect or deterioration do not qualify for tax relief. See California Revenue and Taxation Code (RTC) RTC 170.
  • Affidavit of Calamity must accompany calamity claim applications completed and signed outside of California. 
  • Property Tax Installment Deferral Application is a claim to postpone the next installment of property taxes that occurs immediately after a Governor-declared disaster that must be filed in conjunction with a Calamity Claim.  The Tax Collector will process the actual deferral of tax payment.   There are several qualifiers:
  1. The Governor must have declared a state of emergency or disaster area in the county.
  2. All applicants for property tax installment deferral must also have filed a Calamity Claim​ for reduction.
  3. Property tax installment deferral is available only for secured roll tax payments.
  4. The taxes must be paid directly by the owner. If the taxes are paid through an impound account, the property does NOT qualify.
  5. You must file both a property tax installment deferral claim and a calamity claim before the next payment on the current tax year is due or you will not qualify. For example, if the disaster occurs in January, you must apply for deferral before April 10th to qualify for a property tax deferral.
  6. To qualify for property tax installment deferral, property receiving or that is eligible for the homeowner's or disabled veteran's exemption as of the most recent lien date, must suffer physical damage of at least 10% of its fair market value but not less than $10,000. For example, if fair market value is $250,000 and physical damages are $15,000, the property would not qualify since 10% of the fair market value is $25,000 and physical damage would have to exceed this amount.
  7. Properties without a homeowner's exemption must suffer physical damage of at least 20% of fair market value (not assessed value). Examples are commercial or rental properties.

Tax Installment Deferral Applications that do not qualify may be subject to delinquent penalties and interest.

  • Base Year Transfer to a Replacement Property is for property located in Sacramento County that has more than 50% physical damage or destroyed in a Governor-declared disaster.  Rather than rebuilding, if a “substantially equivalent" replacement property is purchased within 5 years of the disaster and is located within Sacramento County, the replacement property may qualify for an Intra-County Base Year Value Transfer that could save you money.  Intra-County Transfer" means that both the original property and the replacement property are located within the same county and the claimant(s) own both properties. See RTC 69.

Inter-County Transfer" means that the original property and replacement property are located in different counties and the same claimant(s) owned both properties.  There is no ordinance in Sacramento County to allow for an Inter-County Base Year Value Transfer.  For more information regarding Inter-County Transfers and a list of counties that do have an ordinance, please see BOE LTA 2020/018.

NOTE: A taxpayer could receive relief through
either the Calamity Claim under RTC 170 or the Base Year Value Transfer under RTC 69.  However, relief cannot be received under both for the same event, on the same property.

California Law requires that the necessary claim form(s) be filed timely with the Assessor's Office
.   If you need help filing a claim or need more information, please contact the Sacramento County Assessor's Office at (916) 875-0700 between the hours of 8:00am - 4:00pm Monday through Friday.

​Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a calamity​?​​​
  2. Will a Calamity affect my Disabled Veterans' Exemption​?​
  3. How is the calamity reduction calculated?​​​​​​
  4. After my property is repaired or rebuilt, will my property taxes be increased?​​
  5. If I disagree with the Assessor's calamity reassessment or if the Assessor denies my claim, do I have any appeal rights?​
  6. Does the Calamity Claim cover personal property?​
  7. Do I qualify for a property tax reduction if my roof leaked during the heavy rains?
  8. Do I qualify for property tax reduction if high winds and flooding damaged my orchard or vineyard?​

 

1. Calamity

The courts have defined "disaster, misfortune, or calamity" as an event out of the ordinary, an unforeseeable, sudden, or unusual occurrence, in contrast to gradual deterioration or worsening condition over time. To qualify for a Calamity Claim the cost to repair the physical damage must exceed $10,000.

2. Will a Calamity affect my Disabled Veterans' Exemption?

  • If a home is completely destroyed in a disaster for which the Governor issues a proclamation of a state of emergency, the exemption will remain in effect, if the person continues to own the property, intends to rebuild a home on the property, and intends to occupy the home as his or her principal place of residence.
  • If a person receiving the disabled veteran's exemption is not occupying the dwelling on the lien date because the dwelling was partially damaged in a misfortune or calamity, the exemption will remain in effect provided the person intends to return to the home. This applies to any misfortune or calamity regardless of whether the event resulted in the Governor issuing a proclamation of a state of emergency.  
  • ​If a home that was receiving the disabled veteran's exemption is completely destroyed in a misfortune or calamity for which the Governor did not proclaim a disaster or state of emergency, the property is not eligible for the exemption because no dwelling exists as of the lien date.  However if the displaced person purchases and occupies another dwelling as his or her principal residence while the destroyed dwelling is under construction, that person can claim the disabled veteran's exemption for the interim dwelling. When the destroyed structure has been replaced and occupied, it will once again be eligible for the exemption.​​​

​​3. How is the calamity reduction calculated?

Temporary prorated value reduction: If a property qualifies, its assessed value on the current tax roll will be reduced by the same percentage as the percentage reduction in market value suffered by the property due to the calamity or disaster.  That reduction will remain in effect from the first day of the month in which the damage occurred to the last day of the month in which repairs are completed.

Example of a calamity claim with damage repaired in 6 months:

Real property that has a market value of $200,000 suffers $50,000 flood damage in January. Repairs are completed the following June.

Calculation of the Assessment Reduction:

  • ​·         Determine the percentage of damage to Market Value:50,000 divided by $200,000 = 25% Market Value damage
  • ·         Apply that percent of damage to the Assessed Value on the tax roll:
              The property's factored base year value (Prop 13) on the tax roll is $100,000. Therefore, 25% of its factored base year value is $25,000.
  • ​·         Apply the loss to the factored base year value to reflect only the period between physical damage and completion of repairs:
              The repairs are complete in six months, so we adjust the $25,000 loss to reflect its duration of 50% of the year. 50% of $25,000 = a $12,500             net reduction in factored base year value.

Because property taxes are 1% of assessed value, a reduction of $12,500 in factored base year value amounts to a net savings of about $125 in property taxes owed. Note that the amount of physical damage suffered was $50,000 but the calamity tax relief totals only $125. As you can see, this form of relief can be limited.

4. After my p​roperty is repaired or rebuilt, will my property taxes be increased?​

Yes, but only to the amount they were before the physical damage occurred, as long as the improvements are rebuilt in a like or similar manner, regardless of the actual cost of rebuilding. However, if additional living space or other significant improvements are made in addition to the repair, an increase in taxes may result.​


5. If I disagree with the Assessor's calamity reassessment or if the Assessor denies my claim, do I have any appeal rights?

Once the Assessor has reassessed the property to reflect the damage, the Assessor must notify the owner in writing of the reassessment. You have 6 months from the date of the postmark of that notice in which to file an assessment appeal with the Sacramento County Assessment Appeals Board (916) 874-7894).

If the assessor denies the claim, you may still file an appeal within the prescribed 6-month period. The Appeals Board will then hold a hearing to determine whether it has jurisdiction in the matter. If it accepts jurisdiction, then a hearing as to the proper calamity assessment will be scheduled for a later date.

6. Does the Calamity Claim cover personal property?

Some.  Household furnishings are not assessed for property taxes and therefore do not qualify for property tax relief.  Boats and airplanes are assessed for property taxes, therefore are covered under a Calamity Claim as long as all requirements are met.  Mobile homes may be covered if their value has been assessed for property taxes.  Those registered through Dept of Motor Vehicles are not assessed; therefore, do not qualify for tax relief.

7. Do I qualify for a property tax reduction if my roof leaked during the heavy rains?

If the leaks are due to the age and normal deterioration of the existing roof, the leaky roof will not qualify you for property tax relief. However, if a falling tree or heavy winds damaged your roof and the damage exceeds $10,000, you may qualify for tax relief.

8. Do I qualify for property tax reduction if high winds and flooding damaged my orchard or vineyard?​

Yes. Tax relief is available if the damage to the trees or vines exceeds $10,000. However, since the crops produced by the trees or vines are not assessed for property tax purposes, no property tax relief is available for crop losses.
More questions? Visit the California State Board of Equalization's Disaster Relief - Frequently Asked Questions page.