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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions we often receive from San Mateo County property owners. For specific information, please call us at (650) 363-4142 or visit our office.


What are "secured" property taxes?

The term "Secured" simply means taxes that are assessed against real property, (e.g., land or structures). The tax is a lien that is "secured" by the land/structure even though no document was officially recorded. This means that if the taxes remain unpaid after a period of 5 years, the property may be sold to cover the taxes owed.

When is the secured tax assessed?

The Assessor establishes the value of property on January 1. This date is often referred to as the Tax Lien date. The secured property tax bill, issued months later, uses the value established on the tax lien date.

How are tax amounts determined?

The January 1 value established by the Assessor is multiplied by the tax rate (usually 1% plus voter approved indebtedness) then special charges are added. These special charges are added to the tax bill by local districts and cities, not by the Tax Collector. A sewer assessment is a typical special charge that is added to a tax bill.

What period of time does a secured property tax bill cover?

A secured tax bill covers a "fiscal year." The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year.

When should I expect my secured property tax bill?

Every year, the Tax Collector mails the secured tax bills by November 1. If you did not receive a bill, or if you recently purchased a property, you may obtain a duplicate tax bill by calling (650) 363-4142 or visiting our office. You may also go to our on-line property system to determine the amount due.

When are secured property taxes due?

The secured property tax bill is payable in two installments:
  1. The 1st installment is due and payable on November 1. However, you have until 5:00 p.m. of December 10th to make your payment before a 10% penalty is added to your bill.
  2. The 2nd installment is due and payable on February 1. The grace period on the 2nd installment expires at 5:00 p.m., on April 10. If the installment remains unpaid as of April 10, a 10% penalty and $40.00 cost is imposed.

When should I mail my payment to avoid penalties?

You can mail your payment, but in order to avoid the delinquent penalty, your payment envelope must possess a United States Postal Service postmark on or before the tax delinquent date. Remember the delinquent dates are as follows:
  • 1st installment delinquent at 5:00 p.m., December 10
  • 2nd installment delinquent at 5:00 p.m., April 10
If the delinquent date falls on a week-end or holiday, the penalty is not imposed until 5:00 p.m. on the next business day.

Where should I mail my payment?

Under normal circumstances, please use the envelopes supplied with your tax bill and enclose the appropriate installment coupon(s) with your check for payment. If you have misplaced the original envelope, you may use a plain legal sized envelope. Please make sure to enclose your payment coupon(s) with your payment.

Make Checks Payable to :
San Mateo County Tax Collector
Mail Tax Payments to:
San Mateo County Tax Collector
PO Box 45878
San Francisco, CA 94145-0878

Is a private postage meter date the same as the United States Postal Service postmark?

No. California law requires the Tax Collector to accept the US postmark, not a private meter date, as the date of payment.

Can I pay my secured property tax bill with my credit card?

Yes. You can pay your taxes by calling (650) 363-4142 or through our web site using your Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express. All credit card payments are processed through our payment service, Official Payments Corporation. Please be aware that there is a 2.35% service fee for payments over $168.00 and a flat fee of $3.95 for payments of $168.00 or less.

Are there any programs to assist me with paying my Secured tax bill?

Unfortunately, the two programs designed to assist qualified individuals pay their property taxes have been suspended by the state due to budget cuts.

Property Tax Assistance for Senior Citizens, Blind, or Disabled Persons The 2009/2010 state budget suspended funding for the Gonsalves-Deukmejian-Petris Senior Citizens Property Tax Assistance Law, which provides direct cash assistance. The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) will not be issuing Homeowner and Renter Assistance (HRA) Program instruction booklets and will not accept HRA claims for the 2009 claim year. For the most current information on the HRA program, go to ftb.ca.gov and search for HRA.

Property Tax Postponement for Senior Citizens, Blind, or Disabled Persons On February 20. 2009, the Governor signed Chapter 4, Statutes of 2009, which immediately suspends the Senior Citizens' Property Tax Deferral Program. This legislation prohibits the filing of claims for property tax postponement and prohibits the Controller from accepting claims filed after February 20, 2009. As a result of the program suspension, the Controller will no longer accept claims for property tax postponement pending modification of repeal of this new law. However. the Controller's Office will continue processing claims postmarked prior to February 20. 2009. For the most current information on the PTP program, please visit our website at sco.ca.gov.

Who should I call if I have questions?

Nature of Question Department Phone
Values Assessor 650-363-4500
Tax Rates Controller 650-363-4777
Exemptions Assessor 650-363-4500
Tax Payments Tax Collector 650-363-4142
Tax Bills Tax Collector 650-363-4142

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2008 Tax Collector, County of San Mateo
Please email comments to taxmaster@co.sanmateo.ca.us