Fire Calamity Frequently Asked Questions
Forms and Resource
- Change of Mailing Address
- Authorization to Access Confidential Files (PDF)
- Intracounty Transfer of Base Year Value Principal Residence in Governor-Declared Disaster (BOE-65-P)
- Intercounty Transfer of Base Year Value Principal Residence in Governor-Declared Disaster (BOE-65-PT)
- Transfer of Base Year Value Replacement Dwelling (55 or older – BOE-60-AH)
- Assessor Parcel Number Lookup
- Calamity Damage Provision
- Disaster Relief
- List of Counties Accepting Section 69 and Proposition 90 Transfers
For All Other Questions, Please Contact:
Tax Collector’s Office
While the Assessor is working with Cal Fire and other county departments to identify all properties with over $10,000 in structure damage, an Application for Reassessment of Property Damage by Misfortune or Calamity must be submitted to the Assessor’s Office.
The County Assessor will process Calamity Damage Reassessments as quickly as possible. Please be patient with the process.
No. By law to receive an adjusted value due to a calamity such as fire, the damage to the structure must be at least $10,000. If you have structural damage at or above that amount, please fill out a “Calamity Damage Reassessment” application.
What information did you utilize to make your decision on percentage adjustments to my damaged structure?
The assessor’s office utilizes information from Cal Fire, Permit Sonoma (PRMD), the Sonoma County Sheriff, the City of Santa Rosa, and from our appraisers making field inspections to determine the damage to certain properties.
My house was not structurally damaged but the market value of my property is less now because of the fire damage in my area. Why didn’t I get an adjustment?
Under Section 170 of the Revenue & Taxation Code, only properties structurally damaged by a calamity are eligible for calamity relief. If you believe that your property has suffered a decline in market value due to the fire calamity but was not structurally damaged, then you can seek relief under Proposition 8 after January 1 of the following year.
After my property is rebuilt or repaired following the damage, will my property taxes be increased over what they were before if I do not increase the size of the improvements?
No. Property owners will retain their previous factored base year value if the house is rebuilt in a like or similar manner, regardless of the actual cost of construction. However, any new square footage or extras, such as additional baths, will be added to the Prop. 13 factored base year value at its full market value.
What if I rebuild, but there are some variances or differences (i.e. different floor plan; add a full bath; it now meets current building codes; etc.)? Will my assessment go up or stay the same?
Property owners will retain their factored base year value as long as the structure is rebuilt in a like or similar manner to bring it up to current building codes, regardless of the actual cost of construction. However, any new square footage or extras such as additional baths, accessory dwelling units, etc., will be added to the Proposition 13 factored base year value at its full market value. The original property will not be reassessed unless there is a new construction event or a change of ownership on the property.
Yes. Property is assessed on the lien date (January 1st) and/or at the construction completion date. If the property improvements are only partially rebuilt as of January 1, a partial value will be restored for the next annual tax bill.
If I do add on square footage, can you tell me what value you are going to add to my assessment, or in fact, do I get reassessed and lose my Proposition 13 basis? How do you determine the value?
We cannot give you a value estimate prior to completion of construction. You will keep your Proposition 13 basis on structures of record prior to the addition. The costs and market approaches will be evaluated for the added square footage portion, and then reconciled by our appraiser for a reasonable fair market value conclusion. A specific notice will be sent out prior to any tax bill.
The granny unit will be assessed at its fair market value when complete and have a new base year value established for that structure since it was never assessed. When the main house is rebuilt, the two values will be combined. The two structures will have two separate Proposition 13 base years specific to each living unit.
You may speak with the appraiser who will explain the methodology involved in their decision. If you feel that there was information missed, you may provide additional information thereafter. If you wish to file a formal appeal application with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board, you must do so within 60 days of the Notice date.
Can I transfer my tax value to a temporary residence until I rebuild my original house back onto my lot?
No. You can transfer your value to another residence but that will be considered a permanent transfer of your base year value and you will not be able to move it back to your original residence when construction is completed on the rebuild.
The alternative is to pay the new property tax on your purchase of a temporary residence and reserve your original Proposition 13 factored base year value (calamity reinstatement value) for your property that experienced the total loss.
Annual Value Notices are no longer mailed out (as of about 2012), but are available in July each year using the Assessor Property Information Lookup Tool.
Each situation is unique to a certain property, but the most common reason for increases beyond 2% are because the property value was lowered temporarily due to a value decline. Increases could be due to the property now being assessed at the higher market value as of January 1.
My house was completely destroyed, can I buy a replacement residence within Sonoma County but, possibly in another city or unincorporated area?
Yes, if you move anywhere within Sonoma County, you may purchase a similar type of property (similar in size, utility, and function) up to a value comparison of 120% of the original residence’s fair market value the day before the calamity occurred (Prop 50). Anything above the 120% will be added on at fair market value and combined with the original property’s factored base year value. This transaction must be completed within 5 years of the calamity event date.
I’ve applied for a Proposition 50. Can you tell me the market value of my property before the fire? Or can you send me the sales for my area so that I can figure out the market value of my home that burned down for the Proposition 50 Base Year Value Transfer?
The Assessor cannot determine a market value for your property before the calamity until a completed Prop 50 application is received and processed. The law requires us to have property transfer information available at our front counter. You may want to contact a local Realtor, or hire a fee appraiser, to determine the fair market value of your home prior to the calamity.
For additional property transfer information, please try searching the ParcelQuest property lookup tool. Look up the property by address or by parcel number, select the Recent Sales tab, then select a date range to view all nearby sales. Please note that “Parcel Quest” is a lookup tool provided by a third party and is not affiliated with the Sonoma County Assessor’s Office.
Can I buy another house in a different county and transfer the base year value of my damaged house to my new house? (Proposition 171)
Under Section 69.3, a principal residence that was damaged in an area that was a Governor-proclaimed disaster that occurred on or after October 20, 1991 may have its base year value transferred to a replacement residence in a different county only if the county has adopted an ordinance that allows such taxable value transfers. For properties that were considered damaged 50% or more, yes, you can move to another county where they have passed an ordinance that allows the transfer of your tax base to a replacement property. As of 2020, there were 13 counties that will allow the transfers. You can check the Board of Equalization's website under FAQs to see the list of current counties. Please check with the specific county to see if they are still offering the program before you make a decision to purchase a property there.
The replacement residence must meet the following criteria:
• It must be purchased within three years of the disaster.
• Its market value must be of equal or lesser value than the market value of the damaged property immediately prior to the date of the disaster. Depending upon the year in which the replacement property is purchased, the market value of the damaged property is adjusted up to a maximum 115 percent when comparing with the replacement property.
• It must be eligible for the homeowners' or disabled veterans' exemption (your principal place of residence).
• Please see Section 69.3 of the California Revenue & Taxation Code for all of the requirements.
My manufactured home was destroyed in the Governor declared fires, am I eligible for property tax relief?
Yes, it may be replaced by a comparable unit without an increase in either the property taxes or the vehicle license and registration fees.
- Taxpayers will need to contact Housing and Community Development at (800) 952-8356 to fill out paperwork for their loss in addition to our calamity form.
Please contact Housing and Community Development at (800) 952-8356.
If I paid personal property taxes on a business or vessel that was destroyed by fire, will I get a refund?
Yes. If your business personal property or vessel suffered damage of $10,000 or more, you are eligible for property tax relief. Please complete a Calamity Damage Reassessment application for the Assessor’s office to review.
How will the Assessor and Tax Collector know where to send the revised tax bill and other property tax related correspondence?
Please fill out a “Change of Mailing Address” form. You can also download one on the Assessor’s website.
Our home was damaged in the fire and we moved out to a rental house paid by our insurance. Are we still allowed the homeowner’s exemption even though we have not returned to our house as of January 1?
Yes. Temporary absence from a dwelling for repairs made necessary by a disaster will not result in the loss of your Homeowners Exemption, as long as you have not established permanent housing elsewhere (purchased a replacement house).
The Assessor maintains building sketches for most properties. If you are the property owner, or an authorized agent, who has completed our Authorization to Access Confidential Files form, you may be able to get a copy of that document.