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Fire Damage And Property Taxes: What You Need To Know

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Little was left of some Santa Rosa neighborhoods by October 12, 2017, after the Tubbs Fire swept through.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

If your home was damaged or destroyed in the blazes that tore through Northern California last week, you may be able to get a break on your property taxes.

The California State Board of Equalization has some assistance for homeowners who lose their homes in a natural disaster.  

Rose Marie Kinnee with the board says to start by calling your local county assessor's office within 12 months of the damage.

Here are the numbers:

Napa County: (707) 253-4466
 
Sonoma County:  (707) 565-1888
 
Yuba County:  (530) 749-7820
 

You can apply with your county to have your next property tax payment postponed until the damage to your home is assessed.

The assessor will determine how much damage your home has taken. If it's more than $10,000 in damage, the assessor will recalculate your property taxes accordingly. The reduced taxes will remain in place until your home is repaired or rebuilt.

Note: If you've lost your entire home, you'll still need to pay property taxes for the land.

As you decide whether to rebuild or move into a new house, check in with your county assessor's office to find out whether your pre-damage property taxes can be transferred to your new home. In many counties, the predetermined base year value of the destroyed house will still apply after a rebuild, as long as the new house is of similar size and market value.

“So in addition to this immediate type of relief, for the long term there’s also provisions in law to help with the recovery,” Kinnee says.

For more information about property tax relief, visit the State Board of Equalization FAQ here.

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