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Taxation of Mobile Homes

This information, produced by the Tax Collector's Office, explains the taxation of Mobile homes.


TAXES ON MOBILE HOMES

Mobile homes in California are taxed either through the local property tax system administered by the county in which the mobile home is situated or by payment of vehicle "in-lieu" license fees to the State.

Before July 1, 1980, mobile homes that were not on permanent foundations were treated as motor vehicles and were taxed just like automobiles or trucks through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Mobile homes affixed to the land on a permanent foundation have always been taxed in the same manner as conventional homes. In 1980 the State Legislature adopted the "Mobile home Property Tax Law", which provides for a system of taxing all new and most used mobile homes purchased on or after July l, 1980 in a manner similar to conventional homes. This pamphlet describes this new system of taxing mobile homes.

WHAT IS A MOBILE HOME?

A mobile home is a structure, transportable in one or more sections, designed and equipped to contain one or more dwelling units, and to be used with or without a foundation system. Specifically, any trailer coach that is more than eight feet wide or forty feet long, or one that requires a permit to move on the highway is considered a mobile home.

I HAVE A RECREATIONAL VEHICLE (RV), IS IT CONSIDERED A MOBILE HOME?

No. Recreational vehicles, as well as buses and prefabricated housing units, are not considered mobile homes.

MY MOBILE HOME IS SITTING ON A PERMANENT FOUNDATION ON MY PROPERTY; HOW WILL IT BE TAXED?

For purposes of taxation, mobile homes affixed to the land on a permanent foundation are not considered "mobile" homes, but are viewed instead as modular housing, and have always been taxed in the same way as conventional homes.

If your mobile home is not attached to a permanent foundation, for example, if your mobile home is in a mobile home park please read on. Throughout the remainder of this pamphlet, the term "mobile home" refers only to those that are not on permanent foundations.

UNDER WHICH CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD MY MOBILE HOME AUTOMATICALLY BECOME SUBJECT TO LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES AS OPPOSED TO IN-LIEU LICENSE FEES?

If your mobile home was originally purchased new on or after July 1, 1980, it was automatically subject to local property taxes. Also if the license fees on your mobile home, regardless of when it was originally purchased became delinquent on or before May 31, 1984, your mobile home was automatically converted to the local property tax system. (Delinquent license fees no longer cause automatic transfer to local property taxation.)

ARE THERE ANY ADVANTAGES TO CHANGING FROM IN-LIEU LICENSE FEES TO LOCAL PROPERTY TAXATION?

There may be advantages, but each case must be evaluated individually.

One possible advantage is that property taxes are payable in two annual installments. You may also be entitled to the $7,000 homeowner's exemption or other exemptions administered by the County Assessor. In addition to County exemptions, you may be eligible for the tax assistance and postponement programs offered by the State of California.

Finally, it is important to note that mobile homes subject to local property taxation are exempt from any sales or use tax. Therefore, you may enhance the marketability of your mobile home by voluntarily converting it to local property taxation prior to selling it.

Once you convert to local property taxation, however, you cannot revert back to vehicle license fees.

HOW DO I FIND OUT IF I AM ENTITLED TO THE HOMEOWNERS' EXEMPTION?

Information regarding homeowners' and other exemptions can be obtained by calling the office of the County Assessor at (831)454-2002 or writing to Santa Cruz County Assessor, 701 Ocean Street, Room 130, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

WHAT ADDITIONAL TAX ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS ARE OFFERED BY THE STATE?

The State of California administers programs that provide property tax assistance and postponement of property taxes to qualified homeowners and renters who are 62 or older, blind, or disabled. For information on the State's Homeowner or Renter Assistance Program, call the Franchise Tax Board at (800)852-5711. For information on the Property Tax Postponement Program, call the State Controller at (800)952-5661.

HOW CAN I CHANGE TAXATION OF MY MOBILE HOME FROM LICENSE FEES TO THE LOCAL PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM?

You can request a voluntary conversion to local property taxes by calling (800)952-8356 or writing to: State of California, Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), P.O. Box 2111, 6007 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95810.

IF MY MOBILE HOME IS CURRENTLY SUBJECT TO LOCAL PROPERTY TAXATION, CAN I REQUEST REINSTATEMENT OF VEHICLE LICENSE FEES?

No. Once mobile homes have been changed to local property taxation, it is not possible to reinstate vehicle in-lieu license fees.

IF I BUY A USED MOBILE HOME SUBJECT TO LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES, HOW DO I GET THE TITLE TRANSFERRED TO MY NAME?

Mobile home title issuance is administered by the State's Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). That department cannot transfer title of a used mobile home subject to local property taxes without a tax clearance from the county tax collector of the county in which the mobile home is situated. If there are any taxes owing, they must be paid before a Tax Clearance Certificate can be issued.

NOTE: Remember that this type of title transfer applies only to mobile homes not on permanent foundations. If your mobile home is attached to a permanent foundation, title transfers are handled by the County Recorder in the same manner as for conventional homes.

IF I PURCHASE A USED MOBILE HOME OR MODIFY MY MOBILE HOME BY CONSTRUCTION, WILL I HAVE TO PAY SUPPLEMENTAL TAXES?

It depends on what type of taxes you are currently paying. Mobile homes that are subject to local property taxation are subject to supplemental taxes. Mobile homes that are subject to vehicle license fees are not subject to supplemental taxes thru HCD, however you may be subject to supplemental and annual taxes for the addition. Contact the County Assessor for additional information.

HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF MY MOBILE HOME PROPERTY TAXES DETERMINED?

The amount of property taxes on your mobile home is determined in accordance with the State Law and is limited to $1 per $100 (1%) of assessed value of your mobile home, except for certain direct assessments applied by cities and districts and special taxes approved by local voters.

The County Assessor determines the assessed value of your mobile home, which is generally the cash or market value at the time of purchase. This value increases not more than 2% per year until the mobile home is sold, at which time it must be reassessed. If your mobile home is parked on land that you own, the land and mobile home will be taxed together. There is one exception. If your land is a share in an un-subdivided, resident-owned, mobile home park, you will be billed directly for the mobile home and billed through the park for your share of the land and common improvements (buildings owned in common).

DO I HAVE ANY RECOURSE IF I DISAGREE WITH THE VALUATION PLACED ON MY MOBILE HOME BY THE ASSESSOR?

Yes. You may take the matter up with the Assessor to see if that office will change the valuation. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors has established an Assessment Appeals Board for the purpose of resolving valuation problems. Additional information regarding appeals can be obtained by calling (831)454-2002, or writing County Assessor, 701 Ocean Street, Room 130, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I FAIL TO PAY MY MOBILE HOME PROPERTY TAXES ON TIME?

If you do not pay the first installment of your annual tax bill at the Tax Collector's office by 5 p.m. on December 10, or payment is not postmarked by that time and date, then that installment becomes delinquent, and a 10% delinquent penalty on the unpaid taxes is incurred. If you fail to pay the second installment at the Tax Collector's office by 5 p.m. on April 10, or payment is not postmarked by that time and date, it also becomes delinquent and incurs the 10% penalty plus a $10 cost. Likewise, if you fail to pay any supplemental tax bill installment by the applicable delinquency date, the same penalties accrue as for delinquent annual taxes. There is no provision for an installment plan of redemption for delinquent mobile home property taxes.

As soon as an installment becomes delinquent, the County has the right to take any of the following steps to collect the unpaid taxes and penalties on a mobile home:

  • File a Certificate of Tax Lien for record with the County Recorder. This is a 10-year lien against all personal and real property owned by the assessee, which may be renewed every 10 years until the tax is paid.
  • Initiate seizure and sale of the mobile home at a public auction.
  • File a lawsuit.
  • Obtain a summary judgment.
  • If the taxes remain unpaid on July 1, a $34.00 transfer fee is charged to transfer the account for collection and an additional penalty of 1«% of the unpaid taxes is added on the first day of each month until paid.

Should you have any further questions please contact the County Tax Collector at 454-2510.