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Kern County Assessor
1115 Truxtun Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93301
661-868-3485
assessor@co.kern.ca.us
8-5 M-F (Except Holidays)
 
Property Valuations
 Real or Secured Property Assessments

The "Residential", "Commercial and Industrial", "Oil and Gas", and "Agriculture" property Divisions are responsible for the assessment of all secured properties within the County of Kern.


NO FEE IS NECESSARY TO HAVE YOUR PROPERTY TAXES LOWERED
There are many private firms sending advertisements to our residential property owners, advising them that, for a fee ranging from $100.00 to $180.00, they can get their property taxes lowered. This is a service that is provided free by the Assessor. The Assessor anticipates reviewing close to 170,000 residential properties for a reduction in value. He has estimated, at this time, well over 100,000 homeowners will realize a reduction in their Proposition 13 base value. The continued downturn in the residential market requires the Assessor to perform this review for January 1st. If the market value is lower than the property owner’s base value, the Assessor is required to place the lower value on the assessment roll. The review will be automatic. If, by the first of September you feel your value is too high, please contact us at 661-868-3485. The Assessor is committed to producing a correct assessment roll for all Kern County property owners.


Proposition 13: 
Proposition 13 is a Constitutional amendment that limits the valuation and taxation of property in California. It was passed by the voters in June, 1978. Under Proposition 13, real property is reappraised only when a change in ownership occurs, or when new construction takes place. A change in ownership occurs when there is a transfer of property, whether the transfer is a purchase, a gift, an inheritance, a foreclosure, the addition or deletion of an owner, or any other means. New construction is any improvement to property that is not normal maintenance.

Proposition 13 restricts both the tax rate and the rate of increase in valuation of real property as follows:

  • The maximum amount of property tax cannot exceed 1% of a property's taxable value, plus bonds approved by the voters, service fees, improvement bonds and special assessments.


  • A property's original base value is its 1975-76 market value. This value is automatically increased by a maximum of 2% annually (or less if the California cost of living rate is less than 2%). A new base value is set whenever there is a change in ownership or new construction. This base value is also increased by a maximum of 2% each year.

CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP REAPPRAISALS: 
When a transfer occurs, the Assessor receives a copy of the deed and determines if a reappraisal is required under State law. If required, an appraisal is made to determine the new market value of the property as of the date of transfer. The actual sales price is a strong indicator of value, but it is not the only factor used in establishing the assessed market value. Sales of comparable properties are also indicators of value that the Assessor relies on.
 
The date of reappraisal is generally the recording date of the deed that transfers ownership. However, the reappraisal of property acquired by inheritance from an estate or living trust occurs as of the date of death of the former owner, not as of the date of distribution to the beneficiary.
 
The property owner is notified of the new assessment and has the right to appeal this value. Property owners who feel that their new assessed values are incorrect should contact the Assessor to discuss the issue prior to filing a formal assessment appeal


EXCLUSIONS FROM REAPPRAISAL: 
The transfer of property between husband and wife usually does not require a reappraisal for property tax purposes. These husband/wife transfers are automatically excluded from reappraisal. Other changes in ownership can be excluded from reappraisal, if a timely claim is filed with the Assessor's Office. Some of the common exclusions requiring that applications be filed include:

  • the transfer of a principal place of residence between parents and children and the transfer of up to $1 million of any other real property between children and parents
  • some transfers between grandparents and grandchildren when the parent-child relationship between grandparent and his child has been severed
  • the replacement of a principal residence with one of equal or lesser value by a person who is 55 years old or older

Some restrictions may apply in each of these cases - owners with questions should contact our office for additional information. Some exclusion forms may be obtained via the Assessor's Forms section found on the main page of this website.


PRELIMINARY CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP REPORT: 
State law requires the transferee/buyer of a property to file a "Preliminary Change in Ownership Report" with the Kern County Recorder when recording certain documents. A $20 fee will be charged if the completed form is not filed at the time of recording. If the form is not filed, the Assessor is then required to mail the property owner a further request for the same information. This form is used to assist in the appraisal of property and is not open for public inspection.

The "Preliminary Change of Ownership Report" form may be obtained via our Assessor's Forms section on the main page of this website.


NEW CONSTRUCTION REAPPRAISAL: 
Copies of all building permits are forwarded to the Assessor by all permitting agencies in the county. Normal maintenance work does not create a reappraisal. In appraising new construction, the market value of the new construction is determined and is then added to the existing value of the property. The value of the existing property increases only by the amount of the addition or new construction.
 
The property owner is notified of the value of the new construction and has the right to appeal this value. Property owners who feel that their new assessed values are incorrect should contact the Assessor to discuss the issue prior to filing a formal assessment appeal.
 
Some types of new construction may be excluded from reappraisal:

  • disaster repairs
  • retrofitting of unreinforced masonry buildings
  • the addition of fire sprinklers
  • certain types of new construction for the residence of a disabled person

Owners who feel that their new construction may fall into these categories should contact our office.


SUPPLEMENTAL ASSESSMENTS: 
Whenever there is a reappraisal due to a change in ownership or due to the completion of new construction, a Supplemental Assessment is issued. This assessment is in addition to the regular tax bill. The supplemental tax bill reflects the difference between the prior assessed value and the new assessment. This value is prorated based on the number of months remaining in the fiscal year, which ends June 30. If the new assessment is lower than the prior assessed value, a supplemental refund may be generated. Supplemental bills or refunds are mailed to the owner of record and not to the lender if there is an impound account.
 
Prior to the issuance of the supplemental bill, notification of the increase or decrease in value is sent to the owner at the address of record. The owner has the right to appeal the value within 60 days of the date of the notice.


PROPOSITION 8 (DECLINE IN VALUE): 
Proposition 8 allows the Assessor to review both the factored base-year value and the current market value of a property as of January 1 of each year and enroll the lesser value. When the current market value replaces the higher Proposition 13 value, that lower value is commonly referred to as a "Prop 8 Value". In no circumstance can the Assessor value a property higher than its Proposition 13 factored base-year value.
 
Although the annual increase for Proposition 13 values is limited to no more than 2%, the same restriction does not apply to values adjusted under Proposition 8. Actual market value must be enrolled as a Proposition 8 value and any subsequent increase or decrease in market value is enrolled regardless of its percentage. However, when the current market value of a Proposition 8 property exceeds its factored Proposition 13 base-year value, the Assessor simply reinstates the factored Proposition 13 value.
 
Property owners who feel that their assessed value exceeds current market value should contact our office and request a Proposition 8 review. The last day to request a Proposition 8 review of the assessment on the current tax bill is November 30. Requests made after November 30 will apply to the upcoming tax year. Owners may also elect to file a formal assessment appeal during the open filing period.


ASSESSMENT APPEALS: 
If a property owner has discussed his assessment with our office and still feels that his property is over-assessed, he or she may file a formal assessment appeal. Appeals on regular assessments must be filed between July 2 and November 30. Appeals on supplemental assessments must be filed within 60 days of the date of the Supplemental Assessment Notice.
 
An independent Assessment Appeals Board has been established to hear these differences in opinion on values. The Board is composed of private citizens appointed by the County Board of Supervisors. They consider all evidence presented by the property owner and the Assessor at a formal hearing. The Appeals Board then determines the value of the property in question. If the Board orders a decline in value, this reduction applies only to the tax bill for the year in which the application was filed.
 
All appeals must be filed with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors at the County Administration Building, 1115 Truxtun Ave, Bakersfield, California 93301.
 
For more information see the Clerk of Board's Assessment Appeals page.


MOBILEHOMES: 
All mobilehomes purchased new after June 30, 1980, and those on permanent foundations, are subject to property taxes. As with real property, the assessed value of mobilehomes cannot be increased by more than 2% annually, unless there is a change in ownership or new construction. Unless voluntarily converted to local tax assessment, mobilehomes originally built and sold before June 30, 1980 are not subject to property taxes. Instead, license fees paid through the State Department of Housing and Community Development are required.


POSSESSORY INTERESTS: 
A taxable possessory interest is created when a private party is granted an exclusive use for private benefit of real property that is owned by a non-taxable entity. The Assessor must discover and value all taxable property in the county, including possessory interests, as of the lien date, January 1, each year.
 
Taxable possessory interests can be created in virtually any use of government-owned real property. Common examples are campgrounds, forest cabins, ski resorts, airplane hangars and terminals and grazing rights. A taxable possessory interest is found when possession of real property owned by a non-taxable entity is independent, durable, and exclusive of the rights held by others. It provides a private benefit to the possessor above that which is granted to the general public.


 
 Business, Personal, and Special Property Assessments

The Business and Special Property Division is responsible for the discovery and assessment of all taxable business property, boats, aircraft, and other special properties within the County of kern.

Unlike real property, business property is appraised annually. All business owners must file a property statement each year detailing costs of all supplies, equipment and fixtures at each location. Business inventory is exempt from taxation.

The California Constitution and the Revenue and Taxation Code state that all property is taxable, including business property, unless it is specifically exempt by law. Examples of taxable business property are:

  • Building / Fixture / Land Improvements
  • Office Furniture and Equipment
  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Tools
  • Computer Hardware and Operating Systems
  • Leasehold Improvements
  • Property Leased to Others
  • Construction in Progress

BOATS AND AIRPLANES: 
Boats and airplanes are taxable and are subject to annual appraisal. Their value is determined by reviewing the purchase price and sales of comparable boats and airplanes. Information on their location and ownership is obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Aeronautics Administration and on-site inspections.