Thousands of Tulare County residents will pay less in property taxes thanks to a new ordinance approved July 9 by the Board of Supervisors.

The ordinance, approved by a 5-0 vote, authorizes the Tulare County Assessor to cancel regular tax bills of $100 or less, beginning with the 2020/2021 tax year. It also eliminates supplemental and escape bills of $50 or less starting January 1, 2020.

The ordinance, proposed by the Assessor’s Office, applies to real property (land and structures) and personal property (business equipment, boats and aircraft). Approximately 15,000 assessments will be eliminated.

“I am excited for the tax relief this new ordinance will provide, especially for small businesses, and for the support the Board has shown throughout this process,” said Tim Kochendarfer, assistant assessor. “I am likewise thrilled to see the increase of fiscal responsibility this ordinance generates by not spending more to tax something than is generated by the actual tax.”

The modest decrease in income to the county, an estimated $680,000 (or 0.2% of total revenue for 2018/2019), will be offset by savings of $740,000 annually in staff time and other resources.

Revenue and Taxation Code section 155.20 permits county supervisors to exempt real and personal property from taxation if the full value is so low the total taxes would amount to less than the cost of assessing and collecting them, up to a maximum of $10,000 ($50,000 in the case of certain possessory interest assessments).

Similarly, Revenue and Taxation code section 75.55 permits counties to cancel any supplemental tax bill up to $50, and section 531.7 does the same for escape assessments. Supplemental bills are issued for changes of ownership or new construction, and escape bills are for taxes owed for a previous tax year.

In 1984, the Board of Supervisors set the minimum assessed value for regular tax bills at $1,000. Last October, Supervisors raised the exemption to $5,000, also by resolution. The resolution approved July 9 supersedes that ordinance. All of the maximum assessments in the ordinance code would be adjusted automatically if the statutes are amended.

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