Direct Charges on Property Tax Bill
The primary purpose of the bill each property owner receives in October is to collect property taxes, which are based on the assessed value of the property.
However, California law also permits local agencies, such as municipalities, sanitation districts and resort improvement districts, to attach to the bill certain direct charges unrelated to the assessed value of the property. With the passage of Proposition 218 in 1996, most of these direct charges must be property related and usually require voter approval. Direct charges on tax bills in this county may be general, such as flood control maintenance or storm drain improvements which are usually agency wide, i.e. a municipality or the county.
There are also more limited direct charges, such as water and sewer availability charges, bank stabilization and landscape maintenance, etc., which are usually only for a specific subdivision. In addition, the law permits the property tax bill to be used to collect charges for sewer and other municipal type services that are based on usage.
The primary difference between direct charges, created by local agencies, and property taxes, based on values established by Assessor office staff, is how the two items are calculated. Direct charges are established on a per parcel basis and under Proposition 13 cannot be related to the value of the parcel. Thus the flood maintenance assessment is based on the use of the parcel, the size of the structure if commercial or industrial and the amount of vineyard acreage. A single-story, 10,000-square-foot industrial building worth $500,000 pays a lesser amount than a single-story, 20,000-square-foot industrial building worth $400,000 because the calculation for commercial and industrial parcels is based on runoff generated by roof coverage, not on value.
Calculating property tax
Property taxes (also known as ad valorem taxes from the Latin "by value") are calculated on the value of taxable property, including land, structural improvements and vines. Proposition 13 restricts the property tax rate to 1% of the factored base-year value. So property with a $100,000 factored base-year value (the assessed or taxable value) will pay $1,000 in property taxes (1% of $100,000). In addition, Proposition 13 permits voter-approved bonds to be repaid using ad valorem taxes, so most property owners in Napa County see a School Bond tax amount on their tax bills.
Questions regarding specific direct charges should be asked of the agency responsible for that direct charge (a list of phone numbers is shown on your tax bill.)