Understanding California Property Taxes

Property taxes are one of those things that are certain: you can count on receiving your bill twice each year. It’s common for new homeowners to forget about property taxes, but they should absolutely be something that any home-buying plans for as a significant expense. Setting aside money to help pay your property taxes is an excellent idea, so you’re not unexpectedly hit with a hefty bill. We’ve put together some helpful information to help you understand more about California property taxes! 

How Are Taxes Assessed? 

Property taxes are assessed on the current value of your home, and tax rates vary spending on the county where you live. 

What Can I Expect To Pay?

In California, the average property tax rate is approximately 0.79%. But keep in mind it can vary depending on where you live. In general, most property tax rates fall between 0.65% and 1.01%. 

How Do I Pay My California Property Taxes?

A good rule of thumb is to have your property tax assessment broken up into your monthly mortgage payments instead of paying a larger lump sum twice annually. If you’re unsure whether your property taxes are part of your monthly mortgage payment, just pull out the last statement you have and look for it as a line item. Whether you pay them monthly or annually, the first installment of your property taxes must be paid in full by November 1 (delinquent after December 10th), with the second coming due by February 1 the following year (delinquent after April 10th).

What Do Property Taxes Pay For?

This is a question that is on many people’s minds when they’re forking out significant amounts of money in property taxes. Here, the State of California collects property taxes and uses them to pay for various public services, like government services, police/fire/other first responders, municipal employees and projects, residential services like garbage pick-up, and more.

What Are The Different California Property Taxes?

In California, three property taxes are assessed: general tax levy, voter-approved bond debts, and voter-approved assessments for special districts. The general tax levy has been in place since 1978, and the current rate is 1% of your property value—the other two help with the repayment of local and state bonds and support fire and school districts. 

Another option for home buyers is to obtain an escrow or impound account. This ensures that your property tax payments are incorporated into your monthly mortgage payment, so you will never find yourself in a situation when you have to write a large check for the entire amount in one payment. 

When you’re thinking about your annual property tax bill, it’s a good idea to divide the total amount by 12 to see what your monthly payments will be. This can be a huge asset for budgeting purposes so that you will always have the money you need to pay your bill monthly or bi-annually in November and February.

I’m a local real estate professional who has decades of experience in the Pasadena area. I am available to assist you in buying or selling a home, so please contact me if you would like to schedule a time to discuss your real estate goals.