Mobilehome Property Taxes
Mobilehomes in California are taxed through the property tax system, or licensed through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Before July 1, 1980, mobilehomes that were not on permanent foundations were treated as motor vehicles and were taxed just like automobiles or trucks through DMV license fees. In 1980 the State Legislature adopted the "Mobilehome Property Tax Law", which provides for a system of taxing all new and most used mobilehomes purchased on or after July 1, 1980 in a manner similar to conventional homes. This page describes this system of taxation.
What is a mobilehome?
In broad terms, a mobilehome 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 mobilehome.
I have a recreational vehicle (RV); is it considered a mobilehome?
Recreational vehicles, as well as buses and prefabricated housing units, are not considered mobilehomes.
My mobilehome is sitting on a permanent foundation on my property; how will it be taxed?
For purposes of taxation, mobilehomes affixed to the land on a permanent foundation are not considered "mobile" homes, but are viewed instead as modular housing, and as such have always been taxed in the same way as conventional homes. Mobilehomes on permanent foundations are subject to supplemental taxes when appropriate, and are also entitled to all the benefits and exemptions due any homeowner. Please see our pages titled "Property Taxes…The Simple Story", "Supplemental Taxes…Who, What, When, and Why", and "Delinquent Taxes…A Cause for Redemption" for further information on the taxation of real estate.
If your mobilehome is not attached to a permanent foundation - for example, if your mobilehome is in a mobilehome park - please read on. Throughout the remainder of this page, the term "mobilehome" refers only to those which are not on permanent foundations.
Under what circumstances would my mobilehome automatically become subject to local property taxes as opposed to DMV license fees?
If your mobilehome 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 mobilehome, regardless of when it was originally purchased, became delinquent for more than 120 days, your mobilehome was automatically converted to the local property tax system.
How can I change taxation of my mobilehome 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, P.O. Box 8111, 6007 Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento, California 95810.
If my mobilehome is currently subject to local property taxation, can I request reinstatement of DMV license fees?
Once mobilehomes have been changed to local property taxation, it is not possible to reinstate DMV license fees.
If I'm currently paying DMV license fees, will I be able to continue paying license fees?
Unless you request voluntary conversion to local property taxation, you will be able to continue paying license fees. If you sell your mobilehome, the new owner likewise will pay license fees, unless he or she requests conversion.
If I buy a used mobilehome subject to local property taxes, how do I get the title transferred to my name?
Mobilehome title issuance is administered by the State's Department of Housing and Community Development. That department cannot transfer title of a used mobilehome subject to local property taxes without a tax clearance from the Tax Collector of the county in which the mobilehome is located. In Santa Cruz County, you can obtain a Mobilehome Tax Clearance from the County Tax Collector's Office. The request must be in person or in writing; it cannot be done over the telephone. You must have a copy of the Registration, Certificate of Title, or Title Search from the Department of Housing and Community Development. If there are any outstanding taxes, they must be paid before a Tax Clearance Certificate can be issued.
I am paying license fees on my mobilehome. Why am I also getting a property tax bill?
The County Assessor places a value on any accessories which are attached to the mobilehome, such as porches, awnings, decks, etc. This accessory value generates a yearly tax bill.
If I purchase a used mobilehome or modify my mobilehome by construction, will I have to pay supplemental taxes?
Mobilehomes that are subject to local property taxation are subject to supplemental taxes. (Please see our page titled "Supplemental Taxes…Who, What, When, and Why".)
How is the value of my mobilehome determined?
The County Assessor determines the value of your mobilehome. Information regarding the value may be obtained from the County Assessor at (831) 454-2002.
Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the valuation placed on my property by the Assessor?
You should first discuss the matter with the Assessor's Office. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, there is an Assessment Appeals Board established for this purpose. Further information regarding the appeals process can be obtained by calling (831) 454-2800, or writing to: County Assessor, 701 Ocean Street room 130, Santa Cruz, California 95060.
If you are appealing your assessment, your tax installments should still be paid before they become delinquent. If unpaid, penalties may accrue during the appeals process. If the outcome of your appeal results in a refund, it will be issued by the Auditor-Controller's Office.
Are exemptions and assistance programs available to mobilehome owners?
Applications for homeowner, veteran, church, welfare or other exemptions may be obtained from the Assessor's Office. These programs allow for exemptions under specific qualifications, which result in a reduction of taxes. Additional information may be obtained from the Assessor's Office, (831) 454-2002.
What happens if I fail to pay my mobilehome property taxes on time?
If you do not pay the first installment of your annual tax bill at the County Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on December 10th*, or payment is not postmarked by that date, a 10% delinquent penalty is added to the unpaid balance. If you fail to pay the second installment at the County Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on April 10th*, or payment is not postmarked by that date, a 10% penalty plus a cost of $10.00 is added to the unpaid balance. If payment is delinquent more than 30 days after the second installment, the matter is referred to Central Collections, a $80.00 transfer cost is added, and a lien is recorded against your name, which will appear on your credit record. If you fail to pay any installment at the County Tax Collector's Office by the close of business on June 30th*, or payment is not postmarked by that date, additional interest charges of 1.5% of the original unpaid tax is added on the first day of each month, beginning on July 1st.
If you fail to pay the installments of your supplemental tax bill(s) by the applicable delinquency date, the same penalties and costs accrue as for delinquent secured taxes. Please see our page titled "Supplemental Taxes…Who, What, When, and Why" for more information.
* If either December 10th, April 10th or June 30th falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.
To receive additional pamphlets on property taxes, supplemental taxes, or delinquent taxes, please write to the Santa Cruz County Tax Collector, 701 Ocean Street room 150, Santa Cruz CA 95060.