The assessment appeals process utilizes terms and phrases specific to the area of property tax. Understanding the meanings of the following terms will assist you in completing your application form and in preparing for your hearing. The following definitions are provided for your convenience and may be further defined and clarified in the Revenue & Taxation Code, Property Tax Rules, related cases, and Board of Equalization publications.

Affidavit

A person's written statement of fact that the person certifies to be true and correct.

Allocation

Allocation of value is the division of the assessed value between the land and improvements; the total of which constitutes the assessment of the subject property as a whole.

Appeal 

A process that enables taxpayers to contest a proposed liability. An appeal is also often referred to the completed "Assessment Appeal Application" form filed with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board.   

A.P.N. or Parcel Number

An A.P.N. (Assessor's Parcel Number) is the number assigned to identify each parcel of property in the County. The A.P.N. will appear on all correspondence received from the Assessor relating to that particular property.

Appeal Number or Application Number 

The number assigned to an Assessment Appeals Application form once it has been filed with the Assessment Appeals Board Clerk. This reference number will appear on all correspondence from the Clerk relating to that appeal.  

Applicant 

A taxpayer who has filed an "Assessment Appeals Application" form with the Assessment Appeals Board Clerk.  

Assessed Value 

Taxable value of a property, as determined by the Assessor, against which the tax rate is applied.  

Assessee 

The person to whom tax for a property is assessed.  

Assessor

The elected County Officer who has the constitutional duty to assess all County property subject to taxation.  

Assessment Appeal 

A formal process whereby a taxpayer can file an application to request a hearing before the Assessment Appeals Board in which the taxpayer can contest the amount of the assessed value of his/her property.  

Base Year Value

The full cash value (market value) property on the date it changed ownership or the full cash value of newly constructed property on the date construction was completed. This value may or may not be equal to the purchase price.  

Board of Equalization

The state agency that administers sales and use taxes, property taxes, and special taxes and fees. The Board of Equalization also prescribes the rules and guidelines for the Assessment Appeals process.

Burden of Proof

The duty of the person to provide evidence in order to either prove or disprove the disputed fact. or to support their claim.

Calamity Assessment

A reassessment of taxable property following the damage or destruction of said property due to no fault of the assessee, such as by fire, flood, earthquake, etc., which assessment may reduce the property's taxable value to reflect the damaged condition.  

Change in Ownership 

The transfer of a full or partial interest in real property, including the beneficial use thereof.  

Classification 

The determination of the type of property to be assessed: land, improvements, personal property, fixtures, etc.  

Commercial/Industrial or Business Property 

Property used for commercial purposes, i.e., the buying or selling of goods or services, and not for dwelling purposes.  

Comparable Sales or Comps 

The terms "Comparable Sales" or "Comps" refer to actual sales of properties similar to the property at issue in the appeal. The sale must be an arms-length open market transaction and the date of the sale may be any time prior to the valuation date but cannot occur more than 90 days after the valuation date of the property. Comparable sales information is the most common type of evidence used in residential appeals. 

Decline in Value

A "Decline in Value" occurs when the current market value of real property is less than the assessed (taxable) factored base year value as of the lien date of January 1. The reduced value is sometimes referred to as a "Prop 8 Value." If a property has experienced a "decline in value" then the taxpayer may be eligible to receive a temporary reduction in assessed value.  

Economic Unit

A parcel that is not saleable, in and of itself, because it is part of a larger unit and contiguous-owned parcels e.g., shopping centers, apartment complexes, etc.  

Escape Assessment 

An assessment made outside the regular assessment period to correct for property that was undervalued or not valued at all during the regular assessment period. (See "Regular Assessment" definition.)  

Fixtures

A "fixture" is an item of personal property classified as realty for property tax purposes because it is physically or constructively annexed to land or buildings with the intent that it remain annexed indefinitely, i.e., printing press, counters, clothing racks, etc.  

Hearing

A public meeting where the taxpayer and the Assessor staff each have the opportunity to present oral arguments about unresolved tax disputes.

Improvements

All buildings, structures, wells, fences, etc., on or affixed to the land.  

Income Approach

The support of opinion of value using evidence based on gross income, allowable expenses, capitalization method and the rate employed.

Lien Date 

12:01 a.m. on January 1 preceding the fiscal year for which taxes are collected. The Lien Date is also the date when taxes for any fiscal year become a lien against any real property assessed on the secured roll.  

Market Value/Full Cash Value 

The amount of cash a property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market or the taxable value of your property at time of purchase or completion of new construction. It may also be your purchase price. However, if your property was obtained as the result of a foreclosure, auction, probate, non-open market transaction etc., your purchase price may not be the value enrolled by the Assessor.  

Penalty Assessment

Assessment imposed for failure to file an annual property statement for personal property or failure to file a change of ownership statement reflecting a change in ownership of real property or amobilehome. This assessment is in addition to your normal property tax assessment.

Person Affected

One who owns an interest in property that is the subject of an assessment appeal proceeding.  

Personal Property 

All tangible property except real property (real estate).  

Postponement 

A change of a hearing date by either party or the Assessment Appeals Board Clerk prior to the commencement of the scheduled hearing. The "postponement" of a hearing is sometimes referred to as a "continuation" of a hearing.  

Real Property 

The possession of, claim to, ownership of, or right to the possession of land; all mines, minerals and quarries in the land; and improvements to land. In California property tax law, the term is synonymous with "real estate."  

Regular Assessment 

An assessment issued during the regular assessment period of January 1 through July 1.

Regular Assessment Period 

The regular assessment period is from January 1 through July 1.  

Residential Property

Property in which persons live or dwell and which is not used for commercial purposes.  

Secured Property 

Property for which property taxes are adequately secured by a lien on real property.  

Supplemental Assessment 

Assessments for events, such as, a change in ownership or completion of new construction, which occur on or after the January 1 lien date resulting in a supplement to the regular assessment. These types of events create a new base value. A supplemental assessment has its own tax bill issued outside the regular billing period and becomes a lien on real property as of the date of the reassessable event.  

Taxable Value

For real property subject to Article XIII A of the California Constitution, the "taxable value" is generally the lesser of (a) the base year value plus the annual inflation factor; or (b) the full cash value as of the current year's lien date. For personal property, the "taxable value" is generally the full cash value for the lien date each year.  

Unsecured Property 

Property for which the taxes are not secured by a lien against real property. Consists largely of boats, aircraft, and business property owned or leased by tenants.  

Valuation Date

Decline in value: January 1st (must be the owner or lessee on record)
Change of ownership: Actual date of transfer
New construction: Date of completion
Partial completion of new construction: January 1st lien date

Waiver

Used to extend the time beyond the two-year limit from the date the application was originally filed.

Value on Roll

The assessed value as it appears on the official roll.

Withdrawal

A signed request indicating that the applicant no longer wishes to pursue the assessment appeal. The request, once approved by the Assessment Appeals Board, is considered final and the appeal to be closed. If, however, the Assessor's Office notifies the Assessment Appeals Board their intent to raise the value of the property, the request to withdrawal will be denied and the appeal will be required to be heard before the Assessment Appeals Board.

Written Findings of Facts

A written document setting forth the Assessment Appeals Board's decision of an Appeal. Written Findings of Fact must be requested prior to the commencement of the hearing (such a request may be made by checking the appropriate box of the Application for Changed Assessment) and a fee for such findings must be paid to the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board prior to the conclusion of the hearings.