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Welcome to the

CENTER FOR SPECIAL TAXES

California is the only state where local governments may impose add-on property taxes. This database contains measure text and other materials on California's parcel and Mello-Roos taxes.

Welcome to the

CENTER FOR SPECIAL TAXES

Center for Special Taxes

In 2014, the California Tax Foundation released the first comprehensive study of California parcel taxes. The study, “Piecing Together California’s Parcel Taxes – An In-Depth Survey of Local Special Taxes on Property,” identifies the trends and structure of local parcel taxes (click to read the full report or the summary). 

 

The study was the product of a nine-month effort to obtain information from every city, county, and special district that levies a tax. We obtained more than 11,500 files, including local government meeting minutes, ballot pamphlets, parcel tax ordinances and resolutions, engineers’ reports and other key documents relating to parcel taxes.

For information or questions about the information posted on this website, or if you represent a local government that would like to provide information or update information listed on this website, please email foundation@caltax.org

What is a parcel tax?

According to the California State Controller, a parcel tax is:

 

"...a non-ad valorem tax imposed as an incident of property ownership and collected on the annual property tax bill. Generally, the tax is charged on a parcel of property based on either a flat per parcel rate or a variable rate depending on the size, use and/or number of units on the parcel. A parcel tax includes, but is not limited to, all types of Mello-Roos taxes and special taxes for governmental purposes such as libraries, hospitals, schools, protection services, fire protection, ambulance services, parks, or museums."

Understand Your Property Tax Bill

If you are like most property owners in California, you have noticed that your property tax bill has a number of various charges, assessments and taxes beyond what you pay in local property taxes. Many of the items listed on your tax bill are “special taxes.” (For a sample property tax bill, see the graphic below.)

 

In 1978, voters passed Proposition 13 (California Constitution, Article XIIIA), which allows local governments to impose a “special tax” on property, as long as the tax is not based on the value of the property. These types of levies, which are in addition to the annual value-based property tax, are known as special taxes, and are commonly referred to as parcel taxes (as they are based on parcels of land).

 

In the more than 35 years that taxpayers have been paying parcel taxes, there has been little transparency, oversight or accountability. The Center for Special Taxes was established to address that problem, and to bring transparency to California’s parcel taxes.