Proposition 13 requires that all property be reassessed as of its date of change in ownership. The Assessor's Office reviews all recorded deeds to determine which parcels require reappraisal under the law. Once it has been determined that a reappraisal? change in ownership has occurred, the Assessor then determines the market value of the properties as of the date it changed ownership. These values are known as Proposition 13 Base Year Values and will not be changed (except for the automatic maximum 2% annual inflation factoring provided for in Prop 13) until a subsequent change in ownership or new construction occurs.
Only that portion of the property that changes ownership is subject to reappraisal. For example, if a 50% interest in the property is transferred, the Assessor will reassess 50% of the property at its market value as of the date of transfer, and also deduct 50% from any existing Proposition 13 base year values already assigned to the property.
In addition to the Preliminary Change In Ownership statement (PCOR) filed when a transfer of a property interest is recorded with the County Recorder, the Assessor may also request additional information about a deed or other matters related to the transfer. (Note?: Any change in ownership statements or other information supplied to the Assessor about any property transfer are strictly confidential and are not available for public inspection.)
The law provides that the sales price of the property is presumed to be its market value unless the Assessor can demonstrate through market or other evidence that the sales price does not accurately reflect market value. Because of this provision in law, the Assessor may, and often does, assess property at amounts below or above its actual sales price.
The Assessor must also adjust the sales price of a property to reflect any value attributable to non-cash items exchanged in a sale. For example, if a buyer assumes a construction loan, or 2nd mortgage from a seller, the current market value of those promissory notes must be added to the sales price. The same is true if the buyer assumes assessment bonds, tax liabilities or things of that nature, or trades a car or other property as part of the sales prices.
Owners Must Notify the Assessor of any Change in Ownership:
The law requires the owners of any property that has changed ownership (except those caused by the death of an owner) to file a change in ownership statement (PCOR) when the transfer is recorded, or, if not recorded, within 45 days of the date of transfer. Failure to notify the Assessor may result in the assessment of failure-to-file penalties.
If the change in ownership was the result of a death, the law requires that the Assessor be notified of such changes within 150 days of the date of death, or if the estate is probated, at the same time that the "inventory and appraisal" is filed. Failure to notify the Assessor may result in the assessment of failure-to-file penalties.
The penalty for failure to file a Change in Ownership Statement upon a written request by the Assessor is $100 or 10% of the new base year value resulting from the transfer, whichever is greater, but cannot exceed $2,500 unless the failure to file was willful.
Ordinarily, when sales or transfers of property are recorded with the County Recorder, whoever records the deed also files what is known as a "Preliminary Change In Ownership Report" (PCOR) for the owner. This notice normally satisfies the reporting requirement unless the PCOR is incomplete. However, if the deed is not recorded, or if at the time of recording the owner chose not to file a PCOR, the owner is still obligated to file a change in ownership statement with the Assessor within the prescribed time limits.
It is important that owners notify the Assessor of any changes in ownership as soon as possible in order to avoid potential interest charges and other possible penalties associated with resulting escape assessments?. Under the current statute of limitations, the Assessor must retroactively escape assess as many as 8 prior assessment rolls if the escape was the result of the failure to file a required change in ownership statement. Such long-term escape assessments can be very problematic and expensive to resolve, and prompt filing can help an owner avoid those pitfalls.