Exemptions From Property Taxes
What They Are & Who Is Eligible
Even though the California Constitution states that “all property is taxable,” over the years a number of exemptions from property tax have been approved by the legislature or the voters. Reasons for these exemptions may have been to recognize private activities that replace demands on public services [welfare/private colleges]; church and religious activities that should be separated from state intrusion [religious/church]; promotion of homeownership [homeowner] and recognition of service to state and country [veteran]. In addition, counties are allowed to adopt low-value ordinances which allow assessments below a certain level (in Napa County $2,000) to be exempted because the cost of billing and collecting the tax is less than the revenue.
Probably the best known exemption is the homeowner exemption which reduces the value of an owner-occupied residence by $7,000 in value or approximately $71.00 in annual property taxes. Napa County’s 21,450 homeowner exemptions accounts for approximately $150 million of assessed value reduction to our almost $46 billion assessment roll. The $1.5 million in reduced property tax revenue resulting from the homeowner exemption is reimbursed to local agencies by the State of California.
Welfare & Religious
Welfare and religious exemptions cover all churches, entities such as Queen of the Valley Hospital, Pacific Union College, the Salvation Army, Napa County Land Trust, some pre-schools and many others. The combined reduction in the assessment roll from all exemptions other than homeowners is $1.6 billion. This $16 million revenue reduction is not reimbursed by the State of California.
Disabled veterans and their widows/ers can qualify for the disabled veteran exemption which is either $149,993 or $224,991 value reduction depending on the income of the claimant for 2022. To qualify for the higher exemption the household income must be below $67,355. To qualify for the disabled exemption, the veteran must be 100% disabled from service related injuries or illness or, if less than 100%, rated by the Veterans Administration as unemployable. If the veteran died from those injuries or illness, the unmarried widow/er is eligible to claim the exemption during their lifetime.
All exemptions except the low-value exemption require a claim for exemption. For homeowners and disabled veterans at the $149,993 level, only an initial claim is required and the exemption remains in effect for as long as they remain eligible. Most other exemptions require an annual filing to insure that eligibility is current.