Am I responsible for San Francisco property taxes from before I purchased my home?

Asked by Zannie, Anza Vista, San Francisco, CA Thu Apr 18, 2013

I am a first time home owner, and although I was pretty prepared and educated about the process of purchasing a home, this whole property tax thing has me pretty confused. I had to pay my property tax based on the previously assessed value of the condo, which was significantly higher than what I paid, because they hadn't gotten around to processing the new assessment, which had happened FIVE MONTHS EARLIER. I was promised a refund on the difference, which I had calculated to be about $2700.

My refund check just came, and it is for $300. They are only refunding the difference for the time between when I purchased the condo and the end of the tax year.

In a way, this makes sense, but it also means I am paying the taxes on this property from before it was mine. Is that normal? Shouldn't the previous owner have been responsible for that amount? In fact I am pretty sure that was part of their closing costs. Why am I paying it now?

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Eric Castong…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Apr 19, 2013
HI Zanie

Property taxes can confusing, you are most definitely not alone in that.

Let's get a few of the assumptions down so it may be easier.

The tax year is July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013. Two installments for two halves of the year. July 1 to Dec. 31, 2012 and Jan 1.-June 30, 2013.

If you closed on April 1, 2013, the taxes would be prorated based on what the seller pays from Jan. 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013. (The first installment taxes should have already been paid or taken out of the seller's proceeds-which you would have had nothing to do with paying). The closing statement should reflect that whole second installment, with you paying from April 1-June 30, 2013. The refund you received would have been on the over payment you made from April 1-June 30.

The next bill you receive will be in October of 2013 for the 2013-14 taxes. The assessor's office MIGHT be caught up by then to reflect your new value (less than what the seller paid). If it isn't, you will have to request a refund on that installment taxes too, so watch out for that bill. Don't bother trying to call the assessor to get ahead of the game; doesn't work.

Does that make it more clear?

All the best
Eric Castongia
Zephyr Real Estate
DRE 01188380
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1 vote
Bradley Neum…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Franklin, TN
Wed Oct 30, 2013
The contract should spell it out and it should pro-rata, meaning you only pay for your portion when you owe the home. For mortgage help, call or email for a free pre-approval in less than 10 minutes. We lend our own money and are licensed in 49 states.

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0 votes
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Fri Apr 19, 2013
Hi Zannie,

Escrow would/should have pro-rated the taxes between Buyer/Seller. Reassessments only occur on Jan 1 of each year. The following blog post may shed some light on your experience:

"Estimating Property Taxes in CA"

0 votes
Zannie, Home Owner, Anza Vista, San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 18, 2013
The bill (or at least the online version of it--they never sent me one, I had to magically guess that it was due) says that the payment is for the "Tax Year 2012 - 2013," so I don't understand why they refunded only the amount from my closing date to the end of June 2012. I thought this bill was for June 2012 - June 2013!!!
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