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Property Tax Cancellation of Penalty Requests

A taxpayer may request cancellation of any penalty assessed on a secured or unsecured property tax bill by completing and submitting the Application for Waiver of Delinquent Fees form. The signed and completed request form and all supporting documentation are required for consideration of this cancellation request.

Note: In order for your Penalty Cancellation Request to be reviewed, you must either make the payment online in full or include two checks (one for the tax and one for the penalties) with your application.  If your penalties are cancelled, you will receive the penalty check back or get a refund for the penalty amount if it was paid in full.

The following reasons for late payment are common examples which are NOT sufficient for the Tax Collector to waive penalties, as prescribed by state law. These requests will be denied:

  • I did not receive a tax bill.
  • I forgot.
  • I was out of town or country.
  • I have paid on time in the past for many years and think I should not be penalized this time.
  • My bank did not make the payment until after the deadline.
  • I thought my mortgage company was going to pay.
  • I used a private postal meter machine, such as Pitney Bowes.

The request for penalty cancellation review process may take 45-90 days. If you have additional questions or need assistance, please contact us at taxcollector@sonoma-county.org.

Instructions for Application of Cancellation of Penalty Requests

The policy of the Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office is to ensure that all claims presented will meet the conditions for cancellation as outlined in the Revenue and Taxation Code of the State of California.

 The decision of penalty review is final. Any further pursuit of a claim would necessitate the taxpayer filing an action in Superior Court.

 Please submit the following documentation for penalty review consideration:

  1. Completed Application for Waiver of Delinquent Fees
  2. A check for the amount of the tax before the penalties
  3. A separate check for the amount of the penalty to be waived
  4. Any additional documents that supports the request to waive the penalty
    1. Certification from the Postal Service of mishandling
    2. Signed physician’s statement indicating a medical condition caused the delinquency
    3. Any other documentation to support your request for penalty waiver

Return the above documentation to:

Sonoma County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office
585 Fiscal Drive, Suite 100
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Attention: Penalty Review

After review, the taxpayer will be notified in writing, by mail of the outcome of the review:

  • If the request is granted the check for the amount of the tax, will be processed as though received timely, and the check for the penalty amount will be returned to the taxpayer
  • If the request is denied, both checks will be processed paying the tax and penalty

California Revenue & Taxation (R&T) Code

Our office is governed by the California Revenue & Taxation (R&T) Code in granting a tax penalty cancellation. The following summarizes key concepts in sections of the R&T Code that provide the legal basis to determine when a tax payment is considered timely and when a tax penalty cancellation request may be granted.

Section 2512

Payments received by mail are deemed received based on the United States Postal Service postmark date stamped on the envelope containing the payment or the date received if no postmark is available. If the postmark date is after the delinquent date, then the payment is considered late and the delinquent penalty will apply.

Payments made through our website are deemed received on the date the transaction was completed by the taxpayer. Please be advised that if for any reason you are unable to make your tax payment in an automated fashion on the web, you are still responsible to make timely payment in order to avoid penalties. Visit our Paying Your Taxes page for additional ways to make your payment.

Payments made through online banking systems are deemed received based on the date the payment is actually received by our office.

Section 2610.5 and 2910.1

Failure to receive a tax bill shall not relieve the lien of taxes, nor prevent the imposition of delinquent penalties. If you believe you have not received a tax bill, please review our Obtaining Your Tax Bill page for information on how to request a duplicate copy.

Section 4985

A penalty may be cancelled if the penalty attached is due to an error made on the tax roll by the Tax Collector, Auditor, or Assessor.

Section 4985.2

On rare occasions of extenuating circumstances, penalties MAY be cancelled under this code if the failure to make a timely payment is due to a reasonable cause and ALL of the following criteria are met:

  1. The circumstances were beyond the taxpayer’s control.
  2. The circumstances occurred notwithstanding the exercise of ordinary care and judgment.
  3. The circumstances occurred in the absence of willful neglect.

*Please note, requests made under this section MUST be accompanied by documentation/proof supporting the reason for request.

Section 4985.2

Penalties MAY be canceled, if failure to make timely payment is due to a documented hardship arising from a shelter-in-place order, as defined in this section.

*Taxes must be paid no later than June 30 of the fiscal year in which the payment first became delinquent and supporting documentation must be provided.

Section 75.52

If taxes on the supplemental tax bill are not paid on or before the date they become delinquent, a penalty of 10 percent shall attach to them.