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County of Madera

California

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Homeowner's Exemption FAQ

  • What is the Homeowners' Exemption?
    • The California Constitution provides for the exemption of $7,000 (maximum) in assessed value from the property tax assessment of any property owned and occupied as the owner's principal place of residence. The exemption reduces the annual property tax bill for a qualified homeowner. (Art XIII Sec 3 of the CA Constitution, Rev & Tax 218).
  • How do I qualify for the Homeowners' Exemption?
    • To obtain the exemption for a property, you must be its owner or co-owner (or a purchaser named in a contract of sale), and you must live in the property as your principal place of residence. You must also file the appropriate exemption claim form with the Assessor.
      There are two, basic, alternative ways that persons qualify for this exemption:
      Alternative 1 – Ownership & Occupancy on the Lien Date:
      The exemption is available to the eligible owner of a dwelling which is occupied as their principal place of residence at 12:01 a.m. on January 1 (the lien date) of each year, or
      Alternative 2 – Ownership & Occupancy or Intent to Occupy within 90 days of a change in ownership or completion of new construction:
      The exemption is available to the eligible owner of a dwelling that is subject to a supplemental assessment resulting from a change in ownership or completion of new construction on or after January 1, provided that:
      • The owner occupies or intends to occupy the property as their principal place of residence within 90 days after the date of change in ownership or the date of completion of new construction. and
      • The property is not already receiving the homeowners' exemption or another exemption of greater value. If the property received an exemption of lesser value on the current assessment roll, the difference in amount between the two exemptions shall be applied to the supplemental assessment.
      • The claim is filed by 5 p.m. on or before the 30th day following the date printed on the "Notice of Supplemental Assessment" issued for the change in ownership or new construction.
    • Under Alternative 2, whatever exemption is granted will be applied to the supplemental assessment or assessments, if any, and the full exemption will take effect for the next fiscal year, provided the claim is timely filed (i.e., within 30 days of the date of Notice of Supplemental Assessment).
      If you do not own the property, you should not file a Homeowners' Exemption claim. If you do not occupy, or intend to occupy property you own, you should not file a Homeowners' Exemption.
  • What sorts of properties can qualify for the Homeowners' Exemption?
    • A qualifying dwelling can be any place you own as your principal place of residence and that is subject to property tax. Examples include, but are not limited to:
      • A single family residence
      • A duplex or half-plex
      • A condominium or planned unit development (PUD)
      • A unit of any multi-unit property
      • A mobilehome
      • A houseboat or floating home that is subject to property tax
      • A living unit in a commercial or industrial property
      • A motor home or other temporary structure used as a principal residence on otherwise vacant property owned by the claimant
        A dwelling will not qualify for the exemption if it is (or is intended to be) rented or leased, vacant/unoccupied, or if it is the vacation or secondary home of the claimant, or if you do not own it.
  • What is the Normal Filing Period for a Homeowners' Exemption claim, and are there any Provisions for Late Filing?
    • Alternative 1 - Main Assessment Roll Filing (owned & occupied as of 12:01 a.m. January 1).
      Normal filing period: To receive the full exemption on the coming annual tax bill, you must file before 5 p.m. on February 15.
      Late filing period: If a claim is filed after February 15 and before 5 p.m. on Dec 10, then only 80% of the exemption may be granted.
    • Alternative 2 - Supplemental Assessment Filing (owned & occupied or intent to occupy within 90 days of a change in ownership or completion of new construction):
      Normal filing period: The full exemption, if any (and only up to an amount that does not exceed the amount of the supplemental tax bill), may be available, but only if the full exemption has not already been applied to the same property on the current assessment roll, or on a prior supplemental assessment for the same year. To qualify, you must file before 5 p.m. on the 30th day following the date printed on the "Notice of Supplemental Assessment" sent to you as a result of a change in ownership or completed new construction.
      Late filing period: If a claim is filed after the 30th day following the date printed on your "Notice of Supplemental Assessment," but on or before the date on which the first installment of taxes on the supplemental bill becomes delinquent, then 80% of the exemption may be allowed. Once the first installment of taxes on the supplemental bill becomes delinquent, no Homeowners' Exemption may be granted for the supplemental assessment.
  • I also have a vacation home in the mountains. Can I get the exemption on it as well as my regular home?
    • No. You are only entitled to one Homeowners' Exemption.
  • Once I have been granted the exemption, do I need to re-file a claim every year?
    • No. Once you have been granted the exemption, and as long as you continue to own and occupy the property on a continuing basis, there is no need to refile a claim. However, if you vacate on a long-term basis (such that you are not residing there on January 1, the lien date), or rent or lease the property, you must notify the Assessor in writing that you are no longer eligible for the exemption. If at a later date you then reoccupy the property, you must then file a new claim in order to receive the exemption.
  • If I already have an exemption on file but recently changed title on the deed to my property (by addition/deletion of names to/from the deed, such as that of my children or a spouse or some other person, for example), do I need to re-file for the exemption?
    • Yes. A new Homeowners' Exemption claim is required any time there has been any change in the manner in which title is held.
      Whenever the Assessor becomes aware of a change in the way title is held in a property, the existing exemption is cancelled and a new Homeowners' Exemption claim form is sent to the owner of record. A new exemption claim must then be filed to renew the exemption even though occupancy may not have changed. If you receive a new claim form in the mail, do not ignore it; you might lose your existing exemption if you do not respond.
  • I just acquired my home and its prior owner already had a Homeowners' Exemption on the property. Do I still need to file a new Homeowners' Exemption claim?
    • Yes. In order for your property to receive the exemption in the years following your acquisition, you, as the new owner, must file a claim even if the property was already receiving the Homeowner's Exemption under the prior owner.
  • I just sold my home and it was receiving the Homeowners' Exemption, do I need to notify the Assessor that it may no longer be eligible for the exemption?
    • There are two circumstances where it is not necessary for you to notify the Assessor of the termination of your eligibility for the exemption:
      • If you are moving because your property has been sold, the recording of the deed by the new owner will automatically terminate the existing exemption on your former residence. However, you should notify the Assessor if you move before January 1 and the recording of the change in ownership occurs after January 1.
      • If you are moving immediately to another residence in Madera County for which you will be filing a new Homeowners' Exemption claim, the new claim form will serve as written notification of the cancellation of your prior exemption (which we identify by matching social security numbers on the new and old claims).
    • In any other circumstance, you must notify the Assessor that your former property is no longer eligible for the exemption.
  • I just moved away from a home where I was receiving the Homeowners' Exemption but still own it, do I need to notify the Assessor of that circumstance?
    • Yes. You must notify the Assessor in writing whenever a property you own is no longer eligible for the Homeowners' Exemption. Please notify us as soon as possible after vacating the property, but in no case later than the first December 10 following the lien date (January 1) immediately following your vacating the property. Failure to notify the Assessor will result in escape assessments and penalties if an unauthorized exemption is discovered.
      If however you are moving immediately to another residence in Madera County for which you will be filing a new Homeowners' Exemption claim, the new claim form will serve as written notification of the cancellation of your prior exemption (which we identify by matching social security numbers on the new and old claims).
  • We moved our elderly parents into a Rest Home (or Extended Care Facility) on a permanent basis. Will the home they own remain eligible for the Homeowners' Exemption?
    • Unfortunately, the answer is no. In order to be eligible, they must both own and occupy the property as specified in the law. Owners who permanently relocate to a rest home must also notify the Assessor that they are no longer eligible for the exemption. Failure to do so will result in escape assessments and penalties if an unauthorized exemption is discovered.
  • Would an extended stay in a Convalescent Hospital jeopardize eligibility for the exemption?
    • A temporary move to a convalescent hospital will not disqualify the property from the exemption unless the stay becomes prolonged. In other words, the exemption is allowed if the owner is expected to return. However, according to the State Board of Equalization, an absence of more than one year raises considerable doubt that the owner is expected to return, and in that case eligibility may be terminated.
  • Can I receive both a Disabled Veterans' Exemption (or the Veterans' Exemption) AND a Homeowners' Exemption at the same time?
    • Where the Disabled Veterans Exemption is concerned, the answer is no, you are only entitled to have one or the other exemption, but not both. The Disabled Veterans' Exemption ($171,952 maximum) normally provides much more benefit than the Homeowners' Exemption ($7,000 maximum), and is the preferred choice if one must chose between the two.
      Where the obscure and little-used Veterans' Exemption (which is different from the Disabled Veterans' Exemption; has $4,000 maximum benefit and very restrictive income limits) is concerned, the answer is generally no. However, there are some very rare instances where an owner may legally hold the Veterans' Exemption and a Homeowners' Exemption simultaneously, and you should discuss this issue with the Assessor's staff if you think it might apply to you. The Homeowners' Exemption ($7,000 maximum) provides more benefit than the Veterans' Exemption ($4,000 maximum), and is the preferred choice if one must chose between the two.
  • The Homeowners' Exemption Claim Form asks what date I ACQUIRED the property. What date should I use?
    • Use the original date you first became the owner of the property (approximate dates are acceptable).
  • The Homeowners' Exemption Claim Form asks what date I OCCUPIED the property. What date should I use?
    • Use the date you first moved into the property but only if your occupancy of the property has been continuous since that date. If you previously vacated the property and then moved back, use the most recent date you moved-in. (Approximate dates are acceptable)
  • After I file, will I receive something in writing notifying me that I have qualified for the exemption?
    • Yes, you will receive a stamped receipt from the Assessor's Office. This will be proof of your filing of your Homeowners' Exemption Claim. If more information is needed to process your claim you will be contacted by phone or in writing. This is why it is important to provide all requested information on the claim, especially a telephone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • I filed a Homeowners' Exemption months ago but recently received a tax bill that does not show the exemption. What happened and what should I do?
    • Due to our limited resources, backlogs often occur in processing the Homeowners' Exemption claims and changes we receive each year. These backlogs sometimes delay the processing of a claim for several months and, in some cases, up to 6 months. As a result, it is not uncommon for tax bills to be issued that do not properly include the exemption. If you receive such a bill, do not ignore it.
      Where a claim is processed too late to affect the next qualifying tax bill, you should pay the first installment (or both installments, if you prefer) of the bill you do receive on time to avoid any penalty and interest charges. If we process your claim before the second installment is due and that installment has not already been paid, a corrected bill will be issued with the exemption reflected in the amount of that bill. If instead you paid the full bill with the first installment, a refund check will be issued to you.
      If you pay the first installment only and a corrected bill has not been issued by the due date of the second installment, you should pay the second installment on time to avoid possible penalty and interest charges. In that case, a refund check will be sent to you as soon as the claim has actually been processed, but the refund cannot be issued until after the original, excessive bill has been completely paid.
      We apologize for any inconvenience, you will eventually receive the proper benefit of the exemption if you qualify.
      In the unfortunate circumstance where your claim may have been lost in the mail or by the Assessor, you should discuss that matter with the Assessors' Homeowners' Exemption staff.
  • Will the public have access to the information on my Homeowners' Exemption claim form?
    • No. The Homeowners' Exemption claim form is NOT a public document and both it and the Social Security number information on the form must be held confidential by the Assessor as a matter of law (ref Property Tax Rule 135(e)(4)).
  • Why do we have to put my Social Security Numbers on the claim form? Isn't it against the law to require that information.
    • The numbers are required because the Assessor uses them to verify your eligibility and because the State Board of Equalization uses them to detect unauthorized multiple claims. In order to do that, the state runs the Social Security number information you provide through an electronic matching process that detects instances of multiple filings.
      The Social Security Number information may also be used by State Department of Justice Parent Locator Services and State Department of Social Services' Statewide Automated Child Support System for locating absent parents or property of persons who are delinquent in their child support payments. The State Department of Social Services may also use them to identify homeowners who failed to report property ownership to county welfare departments.
      The content of the application is prescribed by law and cannot be altered by the Assessor. The reporting of the Social Security Number is required by the State Board of Equalization as part of the application process under Revenue & taxation Code Section 218.5, which grants that Board the discretionary authority to make that requirement.
      The Social Security Number requirement is made under the umbrella of Title 42 of the United State Code, Section 405(c)(2)(C)(I), which authorizes the use of Social Security Numbers for the administration of any tax.
      It is also true that Federal law does restrict local governments' authority to require the Social Security Number under the "Privacy Act of 1974" (Title 5 United State Code, Section 552a). However, the Privacy Act was amended (Section 7 of Public Law 93-579, USC), to provide that if the reporting was required by the state before January 1, 1975, then the state could continue to require its reporting. Reporting the Social Security Number was required on the Homeowners' Exemption claim form before that specified date; hence, its requirement now appears to be within the law.
      In any case, failure to provide the SSN on the Homeowners' Exemption claim form will result in a delay in the claim's processing and disallowance of the claim.
  • I have other questions about the Homeowners' Exemption, how do I contact the Assessor's Office?
    • See the contact information on this page.

REMINDER: Once you have an approved claim on file, you must notify the Assessor's Office in writing if you move from the property, rent it, move 'permanently' to an extended care facility or rest home, or occupy your property only as a secondary home (refer to questions 8, 9, 10 and 11 for more detail). Your notice to the Assessor should include the following:

  • Property address and parcel number (printed on your tax bill)
  • Date you vacated the property
  • Your name
  • Daytime phone number
  • Your new mailing address.
  • Your signature
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Contact the Assessor

Assessor
200 W. 4th Street
Madera, CA 93637
(559)675-7710
Fax: (559)675-7654
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Office Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm


Staff Spotlight - Assessor

Jacquelyn Nieves - Assessor

J. SPOTLIGHT_20141009_140906 How long have you worked for the County? 7 1/2 years
What do you like most about your job? Serving the community and working with great people.
Why did you decide to work for the County? I saw an awesome opportunity for learning, growth and advancement.
What is your most memorable accomplishment during your County career? Becoming a valued employee and being entrusted with a wide variety of responsibilities.
When I'm not at work you can find me...Engrossed in some art project, cooking, sewing, and doing community work with my congregation.
What was your first job?  I was a waitress in a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles.
What is your favorite food? Always chocolate!
What is your favorite kind of music? My husband and I DJ'd for a few years, so I love variety - especially good dance music in-the-mix!
What is your favorite sports team? I'm more into art than sports, but I enjoy watching a good game with great friends.
If you were to travel anywhere in the world for a dream vacation, where would it be? To Uruguay, South America with my husband to see where he grew up and meet his family.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Happily retired, close to my parents and family in Arizona.



General County Contact

General County Contact
200 W. 4th Street
Madera, CA 93637
559-675-7703
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Use this number to get general information about the County or County departments.  

For non-emergency information or service, dial 311