Thinking of buying a home in Kern County, California? It’s important to understand your tax obligations and how much they will cost. To help you get a handle on the topic, here is everything you need to know about property taxes in Kern County.
Kern County Property Taxes
The office of the Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector (also known as the KCTTC) is responsible for collecting, managing, and safeguarding the public funds that pay for community services in Kern County. They are the department responsible for collecting payments and administering property taxes.
Property taxes are a fee assessed by the local government to property owners within their jurisdiction. This tax pays for public works and municipal services necessary for the community, such as public schools, law enforcement, and sewage systems.
Before 1912, the state of California derived about 70% of its income from property taxes. But as the state relied more heavily on income, sales, and corporate taxes, the responsibility to collect property tax began to fall on the shoulders of assessors at the county level.
A significant piece of legislation that impacted California tax rates was Proposition 13, a property tax limitation initiative passed in 1978. This bill put a limit on California’s raising tax rates, limiting property tax rates to 1% plus the rate needed to fund specific debts approved by voters.
Although the local government is responsible for setting and collecting taxes, there are several different departments that work together to keep the process running smoothly. The main departments involved in collecting Kern County property taxes are the Assessor, Auditor-Controller, and Treasurer-Tax Collector.
The Kern County Assessor’s property tax responsibilities include identifying properties that are eligible for taxation and compelling a list to send to the auditor-controller.
The Assessor is responsible for the following:
- Identifying all taxable property in Kern County
- Locating the owner and creating a description of the property
- Determining an official valuation of the property
- Apply any exemptions or exclusions
- Compile a list of properties and values to send to the County Auditor
The Kern County Assessor-Recorder is Laura Avila. You will find the Assessor Office at 1115 Truxtun Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301, (661) 868-3485.
Office Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday (except County Holidays; Assessor Holidays).
The Kern County Auditor will receive an assessment roll from the Assessor that lists all eligible properties along with a valuation and any exemptions.
The Auditor-Controller will be responsible for the following:
- Calculating tax rates
- Adding special assessments
- Calculating tax bills
- Creating a billing file to send to the KCTTC
The KCTTC will then take over collecting and managing the funds. But once collected, the auditor has additional responsibilities, including accounting for tax collection, appropriating funds to various government agencies, and issuing refunds due to corrections and changes in value.
The Kern County Auditor-Controller/County Clerk is Mary B. Bedard. You’ll find the Auditor-Controller’s Office at 1115 Truxtun Avenue Bakersfield, CA 93301-4639 (661) 868-3599.
Office Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday.
The Kern County Tax Collector will receive a bill from the auditor and take on the responsibility of collecting the funds owed from tax collectors.
The Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector will be responsible for the following:
- Mailing out tax bills to homeowners
- Collecting the property taxes
- Investing collected funds into public works and municipal services
- Conduct tax sales if the homeowner is delinquent on payment for more than five years
The Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector is Jordan Kaufman.
The Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office is 1115 Truxtun Ave 2nd Floor, Bakersfield, CA 93301, (661) 868-3490.
Office Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday-Friday.
Kern County Property Tax Rate
Property taxes can get complicated, so it’s important to break down key terms to elucidate exactly how they are calculated. Kern County property tax rates are set based on the net assessed value of the property determined by the Assessor-Recorder. The net assessed value refers to the taxable value of the property minus any exemptions.
How are Kern County Tax Rates Determined?
The Assessor-Recorder will determine the assessed value by looking at local sales data, square footage, market conditions, and other considerations to determine a fair estimate of the home’s value. They will then factor in any potential exemptions and arrive at a value that the Auditor-Controller can use to determine a property tax.
Kern County homeowners can take advantage of a wide range of tax deductions listed on the county assessor’s website. If you believe you missed a deduction you should have qualified for or think your assessed value is too high, you have the right to appeal it and get a new assessment.
What Factors Impact the Kern County Tax Rate?
According to Proposition 13, the assessed value of property taxes in California is capped at 1% of the property’s market value. So if a home is worth $3,000,000, your property taxes cannot exceed $30,000. Plus, the bill also states that the assessed value can not increase beyond the rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index – which is 2%.
Residents in Kern County pay property taxes based on a few different factors, including the General levy, special district levies, levies for voter-approved debts, and negative levies (or exemptions).
The general levy refers to the 1% tax rate to pay for general government services. Special district levies refer to fees imposed at the city and district levels to pay for specific municipal services such as garbage collection, sewage, etc. According to Proposition 13, the state is allowed to exceed the 1% levy to pay for voter-approved debts. Finally, any exceptions will be noted in your tax bill as well.
Kern County Tax Rate Example
If you want to know how to determine property taxes in Kern County, CA, it helps to look at an example.
In this example, you can see the assessed value at the top, broken down by the land value and value of recent improvements minus homeowner exemptions. Next, you have the 1% general levy, which goes to the county, the fire department, cities, special districts, and schools. After that, you have a list of voter improved bond or debt repayment at the county level, then at the special district level. Finally, you have any special assessments that the home benefits from and a total at the bottom.
Due to all the special assessments, exemptions, and approved debt repayments, it’s challenging to determine an exact rate without all the necessary data. But this gives you a general idea of what goes into your tax bill.
Kern County Property Tax Resources:
- Kern County Tax Rates and Assessed Valuations
- Assessor Property Search
- Assessor Parcel Map
- Kern County Property Tax Online Portal
Bakersfield Property Tax Rate
Bakersfield is the largest city in Kern County, with a population of over 400,000. The average property value is $375,000, slightly higher than the average of $345,000 in Kern County.
The average Bakersfield property tax rate is 0.8% of the property’s assessed value, although it may be higher if you live in a district with special assessments. Bakersfield’s standard property tax bill is roughly on par with the rest of Kern County, which is about $1746 per year.
Kern County Property Tax Payments – Due Dates & How to Pay Your Tax Bill
Now that you understand how to calculate your bill, you’ll want to know when Kern County property taxes are due. In Kern County, the fiscal year begins on July 1st. The Treasurer-Tax Collector will then begin mailing out tax bills starting in October.
But when are property taxes due in Kern County? The first installment is due on November 1st. Your property tax bill will tell you how much is due with each installment. The deadline for the first installment is December 10th at 5 pm PST. If payment is received after that date, a 10% penalty will be added to your bill (if the 10th is a weekend or holiday, you have until the following business day).
The second installment is due on February 1st, but the deadline is April 10th at 5 pm. The same 10% penalty applies if payment is not received by the deadline.
Beginning in May, the Tax Collector will begin sending out delinquency notices. On June 30th (the final day of the fiscal year), homes in Kern County with delinquent property taxes are transferred to the outstanding tax roll and charged additional penalties at 1-1.5% per month on unpaid tax amounts plus a $15 redemption fee.
But many homeowners may want to know how to pay Kern County property taxes. You can either pay by mailing a check or paying online.
To pay your Kern County Property Taxes by mail:
- Write a check for the amount owed and address it to the Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector.
- Include the payment stub in the envelope.
- Mail the check to KCTTC, Attn: Payment Center, P.O. Box 541004, Los Angeles, CA 90054-1004.
To pay property taxes online in Kern County:
- Visit the Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector Website.
- Click “Pay Your Taxes Online”.
- Input your Assessor Tax, File, or Bill Number.
- Review the information and submit payment by Visa, American Express, Discover, or Mastercard.
If you need help making payments, Kern County offers several resources. You can set up a smart payment system online if you’d prefer to make monthly payments. The California Mortgage Relief Program also offers to help pay up to $20,000 in property taxes for homeowners impacted by the pandemic. Visit their website to learn more.
Kern County Property Search/Tax Records
It’s also helpful to know that you can look up all information by doing a property search. Tax records are public information, so you can quickly look them up using online tools. You may be thinking of buying a home and want to know if there are any outstanding taxes, or you’re wondering if you owe anything on property taxes in Kern County, CA. There are two different online tools you can use to find this information.
The Kern County Assessor-Recorder’s Office has a handy tool you can use to search tax records.
- Find the Property Search Tool on the Assessor’s Official Website.
- Search for your target property using the APN/ATN number (an identifier assigned by the Assessor to a parcel) or the street and city name.
- Look through the search results until you find your property.
There you will find useful information on the property, including current tax roll values, the general rate, special assessments, the total paid, and any outstanding penalties.
The Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector also has a similar tool on their website. You can search by ATN, Bill Number, File number, or address. However, it will only tell you the amount currently due and doesn’t provide as in-depth info as the other tool.
Kern County Property Tax Exemptions
Before you pay property taxes in Kern County, it always helps to look into possible exemptions to see if you qualify.
The Assessor-Recorder is responsible for determining possible exemptions and including them in the assessment roll to be relieved by the auditor.
Common exemptions include:
- Homeowners Exemption: If the property is your primary place of residence as of January 1st, you qualify for a $7000 exemption from the assessed value.
- Disabled Veterans Exemption: Veterans injured in the line of duty and their surviving spouses may be eligible for deductions if approved by the VA.
- Solar Energy Exclusion: Buildings with an active energy system qualify for the exclusion for assessment on that portion of the property’s value.
The Assessor-Recorder’s website has a full list of property tax exemptions, links to the applications, and instructions on applying.
Kern County Property Tax Appeals
It’s also important to know that you have the right to appeal your property assessment if you feel it’s too high. Although assessments are fairly accurate, ultimately, assessors are only human and make mistakes. So you can appeal your assessment if you have evidence to prove it’s inaccurate.
To File an Appeal in Kern County:
- Call the County Assessor at (661) 868-3485 to verify the assessed value and state your case. If they discover an error, they may be able to adjust it over the phone.
- If you cannot agree on the assessed value, you can file an appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board between July 2nd and November 30th.
- The Appeals Board will review your case and decide whether to increase or decrease your assessed value.
You can find the Kern County appeal application here, along with instructions. Be aware that all decisions the appeals board makes are final and cannot be challenged, although you can take it to the superior court if you have justification.
Kern County Property Tax FAQ
Are property taxes in Kern County high?
California has some of the country’s highest property taxes, and Kern County property taxes are slightly higher than the statewide average. But luckily, the county also has exemptions and tax credits that can help.
How does Proposition 13 impact Kern County property taxes?
Proposition 13 limits all California property taxes to 1% per year unless voters approve a specific increase. It also limits the assessed value of your home from increasing more than 2% per year.
How do I pay my Kern County property taxes?
You can pay your Kern County property taxes online through their official tax portal or by sending a check in the mail.
Ready to make the move to Kern County? While you’re planning your tax obligations, you should also consider how you’re going to transfer your belongings. Trust Mentor Moving and Storage to help make your transition smooth and painless. We cover the Bakersfield metro area, including all of Kern County. For a custom, free quote, fill out the form on our website or call us directly at 661-215-6023.