California’s Property Tax Deadline: San Francisco and San Mateo Counties Extend Deadline While Other Counties Maintain Deadline with Penalty Relief

While the April 15 deadline for filing federal and state tax returns has been extended, the April 10 deadline to pay California property taxes without penalty will stand for most California counties. As an exception, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties have extended their property tax deadline to May 4, 2020, which is the first business day after the current shelter-in-place order will be lifted.  

For other counties, the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) issued a letter on April 4, 2020 offering to work on a case by case basis to waive late payment penalties for those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but affirming that the April 10th deadline will not be extended. The letter states in relevant part:

“Counties will use all existing authority to cancel penalties and other charges for homeowners, small businesses, and other property owners that are unable to pay their property taxes due to circumstances caused by COVID‐19 on a case‐by‐case basis. However, property owners who can pay or that haven’t been directly affected by COVID‐19, including international corporations and out‐of‐state landlords, still need to pay on time to keep critical government services running. Assisting taxpayers in this way is not new to Tax Collectors, who most recently worked to help those who were affected by the Camp and Woolsey fires.”

While the CSAC letter does not provide further information about conditions for eligibility, a number of counties have issued their own statements implementing specific guidelines. By way of example:

  • Los Angeles County taxpayers may request a penalty cancellation beginning on April 11, and the department has already set up a special team to process such requests. 
  • San Diego County’s Request for Cancellation of Penalties Form, available online, requires an explanation and supporting documentation of how the taxpayer was impacted by the virus, and how that interfered with their ability to pay on time.   
  • Alameda County will provide a penalty cancellation request form specifically related to COVID-19 after April 10th. In addition to requiring documentation, taxpayers will also be required to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, to represent that they were unable to pay on time for reasons related to the impacts of coronavirus from “reasonable cause and circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control” under current state law.

In summary, penalty relief procedures will vary for each county and more counties may issue new information in the next few days. Affected taxpayers should check with their specific county prior to April 10. Below are links to the CSAC letter and the releases for the counties discussed above.


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