April 14, 2024
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Why Property Tax Matters

Property tax is an essential part of owning real estate in San Mateo County. It helps fund vital public services such as schools, police and fire departments, and infrastructure development. Understanding how property tax works is crucial for homeowners and investors alike.

How Property Tax is Calculated

The property tax in San Mateo County is calculated based on the assessed value of the property. The Assessor’s Office determines this value by considering factors such as location, size, and condition of the property. The assessed value is then multiplied by the current tax rate, which is set by the county.

Property Tax Exemptions

There are certain exemptions available for property owners in San Mateo County. For example, homeowners who use their property as their primary residence may be eligible for a homeowner’s exemption, which reduces the taxable value of their property. Additionally, there are exemptions for senior citizens, disabled individuals, and veterans.

The Impact of Proposition 13

Proposition 13, passed in 1978, significantly limits the increase in property taxes in California. Under Proposition 13, the assessed value of a property can only increase by a maximum of 2% per year, unless there is a change in ownership or new construction. This has helped to protect homeowners from drastic increases in property taxes.

Transfer of Property and Reassessment

When a property is sold or transferred, it triggers a reassessment of the property’s value for tax purposes. The new owner will be responsible for paying property taxes based on the reassessed value. However, certain transfers, such as transfers between spouses or parents and children, may be eligible for exclusion from reassessment.

Challenges and Appeals

If you believe that your property’s assessed value is incorrect or if you think you qualify for an exemption that has not been applied, you have the right to appeal. The San Mateo County Assessment Appeals Board handles appeals and provides a process for property owners to present evidence and arguments to support their case.

Resources for Property Owners

San Mateo County provides resources to help property owners understand and manage their property taxes. The County Assessor’s Office has a website where you can find information about property tax assessments, exemptions, and appeals. Additionally, the County Tax Collector’s Office handles the collection of property taxes and can provide assistance with payment options and deadlines.

Planning for Property Taxes

When budgeting for homeownership or real estate investment in San Mateo County, it’s essential to consider property taxes. Understanding how they are calculated and any potential exemptions or appeals processes can help you plan and manage your finances effectively.

Consulting with Professionals

If you have specific questions or concerns about your property taxes in San Mateo County, it’s a good idea to consult with a tax advisor or real estate attorney. They can provide personalized guidance based on your unique circumstances and help you navigate the complexities of property tax laws and regulations.


San Mateo County property tax is an important aspect of owning real estate in the area. Understanding how property tax is calculated, available exemptions, and the impact of Proposition 13 can help you make informed decisions and effectively manage your property taxes. By utilizing available resources and seeking professional advice when needed, you can ensure that you stay compliant with tax laws and optimize your financial planning.