While state and federal income tax deadlines have been extended to July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, property taxes are still due no later than Friday, April 10.
That’s prompted some — such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), which represents homeowners — to call on Gav. Gavin Newsom to extend the deadline. Meanwhile, representatives of cities, counties, school districts and special districts, which rely on the tax revenue, want to keep the April 10 deadline.
According to CalMatters, property tax deadlines are set by state law, and changing them must be done either by legislative act, which can’t happen due to lawmakers sheltering in place, or by executive order.
HJTA President Jon Coupal says Gov. Newsom “should issue an executive order granting homeowners some form of emergency relief.”
“As a weak alternative, treasurer/tax collectors should come up with a uniform process by which all 58 counties agree to abide,” Coupal wrote in an opinion piece. “Specifically, late fees and penalties should be waived until July 15 for all homeowners, or at a minimum for seniors over the age of 65 and those who can demonstrate that they lost their jobs before April 10.”
Meanwhile, local governments want the governor to retain the April 10 deadline and to allow officials to forgive penalties for property owners unable to pay by April 10 due to the pandemic. In this letter, the reps argued that local agencies rely on the timing of property tax payments.
“Unlike nearly every other tax, including the income tax and sales tax, property tax revenues are not distributed throughout the fiscal year,” the letter states. “Instead, nearly all funds—over $140 billion—are received in the days before the two payment deadlines of December 10 and April 10. Extending the deadline by 60 or 90 days would have a dramatic impact on local funding, as almost all local agencies rely on the property tax for the majority of their general funds.”
In a March 26 notice, San Mateo County Treasurer-Tax Collector Sandie Arnott expressed a need for balance on the issue, indicating her office is prepared to waive penalties for those with legitimate financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
“I stress to everyone in San Mateo County: If you can pay your property taxes online, I urge you to do so,” Arnott said.
To pay property taxes online, click here. Due to the pandemic, tax collection offices in Redwood City, South San Francisco and Half Moon Bay will be closed until further notice for in person payments. Taxpayers can also pay by mail, by automated phone system at 866-220-0308, or by using the drop box located at 555 County Center in Redwood City.
Taxpayers are requested to use a personal check, cashier’s check, or money check to for mail payments.
Photo of 555 County Center, home of San Mateo Tax Collector’s office, courtesy of the County of San Mateo