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Frequently Asked Questions

Mobile Homes

1 What is a mobilehome?
2 I have a recreational vehicle (RV); is it considered a mobile home?
3 My mobilehome is sitting on a permanent foundation on my property; how will it be taxed?
4 Under which circumstances would my mobilehome automatically become subject to local property taxes as opposed to in-lieu license fees?
5 Are there advantages to changing from in-lieu license fees to local property taxation?
6 How do I find out if I am entitled to the homeowner's exemption?
7 What additional tax assistance programs are offered by the State?
8 How can I change taxation of my mobilehome from license fees to the local property tax system?
9 If my mobilehome currently is subject to local property taxation, can I request reinstatement of vehicle license fees?
10 If I am currently paying in-lieu license fees, will I be able to continue paying license fees?
11 If I buy a used mobilehome subject to local property taxes, how do I get the title transferred to my name?
12 If I purchase a used mobilehome or modify my mobilehome by construction, will I have to pay supplemental taxes?
13 How is the amount of my mobilehome property taxes determined?
14 Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the valuation placed on my mobilehome by the Assessor?
15 What happens if I fail to pay my mobilehome property taxes on time?

1) 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 that eight feet wide or forty feet long, or one that requires a permit to move on the highway is considered a mobilehome.

2) 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 mobilehomes.

3) 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 read our section on secured property taxes, supplemental property taxes, and delinquent property taxes 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 section, the term "mobilehome" refers only to those that are not on permanent foundations.

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4) Under which circumstances would my mobilehome automatically become subject to local property taxes as opposed to in-lieu 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 on or before May 31, 1984, your mobilehome was automatically converted to the local property tax system. (Delinquent license fees no longer cause automatic transfer to local property taxation.)

5) Are there advantages to changing from in-lieu license fees to local property taxation?

There may be advantages, but each case really has to be evaluated individually.

One possible advantage is that property taxes are payable in two annual installments. You also may be entitled to the $7,000 homeowner's exemption or other exemptions administered by the County Assessor. It should be noted, however, that if you receive the homeowner's exemption, you cannot apply for the renter's credit on your State Income Tax return. In addition to County exemptions, you may be eligible for tax assistance and postponement programs offered by the State of California.

Finally, it is important to note that mobilehomes subject to local property taxation are exempt from any sales or use tax. Therefore, you may enhance the marketability of your mobilehome 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.

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6) How do I find out if I am entitled to the homeowner's exemption?

Information regarding homeowner's and other exemptions can be obtained by calling the office of the County Assessor at (707) 565-1888 or writing to Sonoma County Assessor, 585 Fiscal Dr., Room 104F, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

7) 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) 868-4171. For information on the Property Tax Postponement Program, call the State Controller at (800) 952-5661.

8) 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 2111, 1800 Third Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.

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9) If my mobilehome currently is subject to local property taxation, can I request reinstatement of vehicle license fees?

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

10) If I am currently paying in-lieu license fees, will I be able to continue paying license fees?

Yes. 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.

NOTE: Remember, mobilehomes subject to in-lieu license fees are also subject to sales or use tax when sold.

11) If I buy a used mobilehome subject to local property taxes, how do I get the title transferred to my name?

Mobilehome title insurance 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 county tax collector of the county in which the mobilehome is situated. In Sonoma County you can obtain a Mobilehome Tax Clearance Certificate by calling the Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office at (707) 565-2281. If there are any taxes owing, they must be paid before a Tax Clearance Certificate can be issued. A security deposit may be required.

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

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12) If I purchase a used mobilehome or modify my mobilehome by construction, will I have to pay supplemental taxes?

It depends on what type of taxes you currently are paying. Mobilehomes that are subject to local property taxation are subject to supplemental taxes. (Please see our section on supplemental property taxes). Mobilehomes that are subject to vehicle license fees are not subject to supplemental taxes.

13) How is the amount of my mobilehome property taxes determined?

The amount of property taxes on your mobilehome is determined in accordance with State law and is limited to $1 per $100 of assessed value of your mobilehome, 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 mobilehome, which is generally the cash or market value at the time of purchase. This value increase is not more than 2% per year until the mobilehome is sold, at which time it must be reassessed. If your mobilehome is parked on land that you own, the land will be assessed and taxes separately.

Neither the County Board of Supervisors nor the Tax Collector determines the amount of taxes.

14) Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the valuation placed on my mobilehome 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 several Assessment Appeals Boards for the purpose of resolving valuation problems. Appeals on regular assessments must be filed each year between July 2 and November 30 (valuation information is available July 1 at the Assessor's regional offices). Appeals on corrected assessments, escaped assessments (assessments that did not take place when they should have), or supplemental assessments must be filed no later than 60 days from the mailing date of the corrected, escaped, or supplemental tax bill.

Appeals applications and further information about the appeals process can be obtained by calling (707) 565-2241 or writing to: Assessment Appeals Board, 575 Administration Dr., Room 100A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

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15) 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 Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on December 10, (If December 10 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.), or payment is not postmarked by that time and date, then that installment becomes delinquent and a 10% delinquent penalty is added to any unpaid balance. If you fail to pay the second installment at the Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on April 10, (If April 10 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.), or payment is not postmarked by that time and date, it becomes delinquent and a 10% penalty plus a $20.00 administrative charge. 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. To obtain the total amount required to redeem delinquent mobilehome property taxes call the Tax Collector at (707) 565-2281.

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 mobilehome:

  • 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 mobilehome at a public auction.
  • File a lawsuit.
  • Obtain a summary judgment.

If the taxes remain unpaid on July 1, an additional penalty of 1 1/2% of the unpaid taxes is added on the first day of each month, beginning in July.

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