Each year, the Orange County Assessor Department, headed by Assessor Webster J. Guillory, determines the taxable value of some 1,050,000 units of property—a value that currently totals around $420.3 billion in a county with a population of over 3 million—and publishes assessment reports that are provided to property owners on valuation notices.
To establish taxable value, department employees compare the Proposition 13 value with the market value. Market value is what the property would sell for in an open market transaction. Proposition 13 value includes consumer price index inflation adjustments of up to 2 percent per year for each year since the property last changed hands plus the value of any new construction. Taxable value is the market value or the Proposition 13 value, whichever is lower for a specific tax year.
On April 12, Webster Guillory was the third speaker in OCAR’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Among other things, Guillory hastened to assure an audience of REALTORS® and Affiliates that he neither determines tax rates (which are established by law) nor collects property taxes (which is the job of the Orange County Treasurer–Tax Collector) and that Proposition 13 creates “property text saving zones” that benefit both home owners who have “stayed put” in the homes they bought before 1978 and those who have purchased homes more recently.
Guillory points out that, although only about 88,000 of the 400,000 or so parcels that existed in 1978 (the year in which California voters passed Proposition 13) are still subject to the original 1976 base year assessed value level, the difference between market value and Proposition 13 value creates property tax savings zones for a much larger number of Orange County parcels, especially in volatile economic times, when this value difference can become quite large.
To learn what property is taxable (almost everything is), where foreclosures are headed, what portion of property tax is deductible for state income tax purposes, and what parcel creation numbers reveal about new development in Orange County, read “A Q&A with Orange County Assessor Webster J. Guillory About Property Valuation, Foreclosures, Proposition 13, Property Tax Savings Zones, and More” on pages 12–14 in the June issue of the Orange County REALTOR®.
By Sherri Butterfield