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Tax Bill Information

 

Obtaining Your Tax Bill

Annual tax bills, which can be paid in two installments, are mailed once each year by November 1. Since the bill contains payment stubs for both installments, this is the only bill regularly mailed each year by the Tax Collector. If you do not receive your annual tax bill by November 10, you should request one by calling the Sonoma County Tax Collector's Office at (707) 565-2281 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

When you make your request, you will need to provide the Fee Parcel Number, which you can find on a previous year's tax bill, or the address of the taxed property.

You may also obtain a bill in person at the Tax Collector's Office located at the Sonoma County Administration Center, 585 Fiscal Drive, Room 100, Santa Rosa, California. This option is not recommended during tax periods due to parking problems and lengthy delays.

If your taxes are paid through an impound account (i.e., included with your mortgage payment), your lender will receive your annual tax bill, and you will receive an informational copy. Supplemental Property Tax bills (additional taxes added after reassessment upon sale of the property), however, are not sent to your lender, but are mailed directly to you. It is your responsibility to contact your lender to determine who will pay the supplemental tax bill. See our section on Supplemental Property Tax for more information.

It is your responsibility to obtain your annual tax bill. Failure to receive a bill does not provide a basis for excusing penalties for late payment.

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How to Read Your Tax Bill

Your annual tax bill provides the following information pertinent to payment of your property taxes:

  • The owner of record as of January 1.
  • The property location and description.
  • The assessed value of the property.
  • The amount and type of exemption, if applicable.
  • The amount of taxes due on the first and second installments, as well as the total taxes due.
  • A breakdown of the types of taxes being collected, including the general tax levy (the constitutional "1%" levy), locally voted special taxes, and city or district direct assessments.

Attached to your bill are 2 payment stubs for the 1st and 2nd installment payments. These stubs will list the amount due for each installment, the date payment is due and the total amount due if payment is received after the delinquent date. These stubs should be submitted with your payment.

If your bill carries the legend "Prior year delinquent taxes exist on this property", this is an indication that there are prior-year delinquent taxes, which are not included in your bill. See our section on Delinquent Property Taxes for more information.

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Computation of Taxes

The process of determining your property taxes involves the efforts of 3 County offices: the County Assessor, the County Auditor/Controller, and the County Tax Collector, who work in conjunction to produce and account for your property taxes. In order for the amount of your taxes to be determined, the County Assessor must first assess the value of your property. Generally, the assessed value is the cash or market value at the time of purchase. This value increases not more than 2% per year until the property is sold or any new construction is completed, at which time it must be reassessed (see Supplemental Property Taxes.) For more information on how the assessed value is determined, contact the Assessor's Office at (707) 565-1888.

After the Assessor has determined the property value, the Auditor-Controller applies the appropriate tax rates, which include the general tax levy, locally voted special taxes, and any city or district direct assessments. The general tax levy is determined in accordance with State law and is limited to $1 per $100 of assessed value of your property. Special taxes and district assessments are passed by vote. After applying the tax rates, the Auditor-Controller calculates the total tax amount. Finally, the Tax Collector prepares property tax bills based on the Auditor-Controller's calculations, distributes the bills, and then collects the taxes.

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

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PAYMENT OPTIONS

There are several options available for payment of your property taxes:

Internet

You may pay your taxes on the Internet, either by credit card, debit card, or E-check electronic debit from your checking or savings account. Please note that the payment processing company charges a 2.34% transaction fee for credit or debit card payments and a $1.50 transaction fee for E-check payments.

View and Pay property taxes on-line
e-Check payment optionCredit card payment options

Mail

A good way to pay your tax bill is by mail. The envelope containing your tax bill also contains payment stubs for each installment and two preaddressed envelopes that ensure prompt handling of your payment. Make checks and money orders payable to the Sonoma County Tax Collector and write the Fee Parcel Number on them. Your canceled check or money order stub serves as your receipt. NEVER SEND CASH. Be sure to mail early so that your envelope is postmarked before the delinquent date. A postmark date and time is acceptable proof of timely payment.

In Person

You may also come to the Sonoma County Tax Collector's office, located at 585 Fiscal Drive, Room 100 in Santa Rosa, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (except major Holidays). Come prepared with your tax bill, parcel number and/or address of the property being taxed. Our customer service representatives will be available to help you.

To avoid standing in line, place property tax payments into the drop box, located just outside the main entrance to our office. This box is emptied at 5:00 PM every business day, and payments are processed the following business day. Payments must be received prior to 5:00 PM on the day that they are due or they will be considered delinquent.

Drive-Through

The Tax Collector provides drive-through service where you may drive up and drop off your payment to a staff member from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on the day before and the day of the Secured Property tax delinquency dates. Usually these dates are December 9th and 10th and April 9th and 10th. If December 10th or April 10th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the delinquency date is the next business day. The drive-through is located at the West end of Fiscal Drive at the corner of Fiscal Drive and Administration Drive. You may enter the drive-through heading West on Fiscal Drive off of Ventura Avenue, in between the Fiscal and Administration buildings. (See map.) Have your payment ready to hand to a Tax Collector staff member. Cash or credit card payments are not accepted at the drive-through; checks only.

Telephone

To make payments by telephone, please call 1-888-636-8418. Please note that the payment processing company charges a 2.34% transaction fee for credit or debit card payments and a $1.50 transaction fee for E-check payments.

Cards accepted: Credit card payment options

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Payment Deadlines

You may pay your annual tax bill in two installments. The first installment is due November 1 and becomes delinquent at 5 p.m. on December 10, and the second installment is due February 1 and becomes delinquent at 5 p.m. on April 10. You may, however, elect to pay the entire bill when you pay the first installment. If you itemize your income taxes, this may be an advantage to you when calculating the deduction on your Federal and State income taxes. All tax bills become delinquent after 5 p.m. of the due date. Payments left after 5 p.m. of the date due will be considered delinquent.

Supplemental tax bills are mailed throughout the year and, therefore, may not be due or delinquent at the same time as your annual tax bill. Read our section on Supplemental Property Taxes for information on delinquency dates of supplemental tax bills.

IMPORTANT PROPERTY TAX DATES

January 1 Lien Date - date for valuation, date taxes attach to property as a lien
January 2 Exempt entities; first day to file affidavit and claim for exemption (delinquent 5 p.m. on February 15)
January 2 Churches and Churches with schools; first day to file affidavit and claim for Church or Religious exemption (delinquent 5 p.m. on February 15)
January 2 Homeowners Veterans, Disabled veterans; first day to file affidavit and claim for exemption (delinquent 5 p.m. on February 15)
February 1 Second installment secured property taxes due (delinquent April 10)
February 15 Commercial fishing vessel and historical aircraft exemption claim forms due.
February 15 Exempt entities; affidavits and claim forms dues
February 15 Churches and churches with schools; affidavits and claim forms due
April 1 Property statements due (delinquent after May 7 or Assessor's date)
April 10 Property owners; second installment of current year tax due
May 7 Final filing date for property statements
July 1 Assessors complete local roll and deliver to auditor
July 2-
November 30
Assessment Appeals filing period for regular-period assessments. Most other assessments must be appealed 60 days after notice.
July 31 Last day for tax collectors to issue unsecured tax bills
August 1 Commercial fishing vessel and historical aircraft exemption claim forms due for partial exemption.
August 31 Unsecured taxes due; delinquent after 5 p.m.
November 1 First installment of secured taxes due (delinquent Dec. 10)
November 30 Last day to file assessment appeals
December 10 Property owners; first installment of current year tax due

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Delinquent Taxes

This section explains what happens when property taxes are left unpaid, outlines the penalties associated with delinquent taxes, and describes an installment plan to redeem property on which delinquent taxes are owed.

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 it 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 incurred. If you fail to pay the second installment at the Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on April 10 (if it 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 on the unpaid taxes and an administrative charge of $20 are added. Likewise, if you fail to pay any supplemental tax bill installment by the applicable delinquency date, the same penalties and charges apply as for delinquent annual taxes.

If there are ANY unpaid taxes as of 5 p.m. on June 30, then the property becomes tax defaulted. (If June 30 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes must be paid by 5 p.m. of the preceding business day.) Once the property has become tax defaulted, a redemption fee of $15 and additional penalties begin to accrue at the rate of 1 1/2% per month of the unpaid taxes. This monthly penalty is added at 5 p.m. on the last day of each month (or the following business day if the last day of the month falls on a weekend or holiday).

Your taxes can remain unpaid for a maximum of five years following their tax default, at which time your property becomes subject to the Power of Sale. This means that your property will be sold at a public auction or acquired by a public agency if you do not pay the taxes before the date on which the property is offered for sale or acquisition.

The amount needed to redeem tax-defaulted property in full is the sum of the following:
1. The total amount of unpaid taxes for all delinquent years.
2. A 10% penalty on every unpaid installment.
3. A $20 administrative charge for each delinquent year effective 7/1/2003.
4. Monthly penalties of 1 1/2% of the unpaid taxes accrued to date.
5. A redemption fee of $15.

To obtain an estimate of the amount required to redeem your property, you should contact the office of the Tax Collector by calling (707) 565-2281. When making your request, you will need to provide the Fee Parcel Number, which you can find on a previous tax bill, or the address of the property. Also, be sure to specify the date on which you wish to redeem so that the penalty can be calculated properly. One year's delinquent taxes may not be redeemed separately from other years delinquent taxes. When the redemption amount is calculated, the total taxes owed for all delinquent years are combined together.

If you are unable to pay the full redemption amount (i.e., unpaid taxes for all delinquent years plus penalties and charges), you may open an installment plan of redemption. This plan allows you to make payments on your delinquent taxes over a five-year period beginning the date you open the installment account.

To open an installment plan, you must:

1. Make an initial payment of at least 20% of the redemption amount; plus a one time $25     payment plan fee, and
2. Pay your current year's taxes.

If you open an installment account between July 1 and the following April 10, the current year's taxes and any supplemental taxes must be paid by April 10 or the account will default. To open an account between April 11 and June 30, the current year's taxes (plus any penalties and charges) must first be paid in full. You can open an installment account after the date on which the property has become tax defaulted (June 30) and within five years of that date (at which time your property becomes subject to the power of sale).

Under the installment plan you are required to make one payment each year for five years, in addition to paying each year's annual taxes. By each April 10 you must make one payment of 20% or more of the redemption amount, plus interest (which accrues at the rate of 1 1/2% per month on the unpaid balance once the account has been opened). If you fail to make any installment payment or fail to pay your current year's taxes or any supplemental taxes on or before April 10 of each year, then your account will default.

You can, however, pay the total unpaid balance plus accrued interest any time before the fifth and final payment is due.

If you wish detailed information about an installment plan of redemption, contact the Tax Collector's Office at (707) 565-2281.

Read our section on Delinquent Taxes for more information.

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Avoid Penalties

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 the taxes become delinquent and a 10% delinquent penalty is added. 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 an administrative charge of $20.00 is added. You may not pay your second installment without having first paid your first installment. If you fail to pay either or both installments at the Tax Collector's Office by 5 p.m. on June 30 (if June 30 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes must be paid by 5 p.m. on the preceding business day), or payment is not postmarked by that time and date, then the property becomes tax defaulted and additional penalties and costs accrue. See our section on Delinquent Taxes for full information.

If you fail to pay the installments of your supplemental tax bill by the applicable delinquency dates, the same penalties accrue as for delinquent annual taxes. Read our section on Supplemental Property Taxes for more information.

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