Mobile Home Assessment
California Mobile homes are subject to taxes either by local county tax systems or by vehicle license fees paid to the State instead of property taxes.
Before July 1, 1980, mobile homes not on permanent foundations were taxed just like automobiles or trucks through license fees. In 1980 the State Legislature adopted the "Mobile Home Property Tax Law". This law treats taxes on all new and most used mobile homes purchased on or after July 1, 1980, more like taxes on conventional homes.
Definition of a Mobile Home
A mobile home is a movable structure made of one or more sections, designed and set up as one or more home units and usable with or without a foundation. 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 a mobile home.
Recreational vehicles, as well as buses and prefabricated housing units are not mobile homes.
All mobile homes sold new after 7/1/1980 are subject to local property taxes.
When purchasing a mobile home that sold new before 7/1/1980, the buyer may have a choice of paying an in-lieu tax (license fee) to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), or paying property taxes to the County. This is decided in escrow.
It is possible for a mobile home charged the in-lieu tax to be moved to the property tax roll at any time. However, once a mobile home is placed on the property tax roll, it cannot go back to in-lieu tax status.
Mobile Homes on Permanent Foundations
Mobile homes on a permanent foundation are not taxed as a "mobile" home. These homes are similar to modular housing and taxed as conventional homes.
Unless you request voluntary conversion to local property taxation, you will be able to continue paying in-lieu tax. If you sell your mobile home, the new owner will also pay license fees unless he or she requests conversion (remember that mobile homes subject to in-lieu license fees are also subject to sales or use tax when sold).
California state law sets the property tax on mobile homes. The tax rate is $1 per $100 of assessed value. There may also be certain direct assessments applied by cities and districts and special taxes approved by local voters.
The Assessor determines the assessed value of mobile homes, which is usually the cash or market value at the time of purchase. This value cannot increase more than 2 percent per year until the next time the mobile home is sold. When a mobile home is sold, it is reassessed. If your mobile home is parked on land that you own, the land will be assessed and taxed separately.
Property Tax verses License Fees
There may be advantages to changing from paying license fees to paying property tax on a mobile home, but each case is different.
One possible advantage is that property taxes are paid in two annual installments.
Converting a Mobile Home to Local Property Tax
You can request a voluntary conversion to local property taxes by calling (800) 952-8356 or writing to the California Department of Housing and Community Development at:
State of California
Department of Housing and Community Development
P.O. Box 2111
6007 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95810
Visit the Department of Housing and Community Development Website for more information. http://www.hcd.ca.gov
Sales Tax on Mobile Homes
It is important to note that mobile homes subject to local property taxes are exempt from any sales or use tax. You may, therefore, enhance the marketability of your mobile home by voluntarily converting it to local property taxation prior to selling it. But once you convert to local property taxation, you can't revert back to vehicle license fees.
Whether or not you have to pay supplemental taxes if you purchase a used mobile home or modify your own mobile home by construction depends on what type of taxes you currently are paying. Mobile homes that are subject to local property taxes are subject to supplemental taxes. Mobile homes that are subject to vehicle license fees are not subject to supplemental taxes.
Regardless of the original purchase date, if the license fees on a mobile home became delinquent on or before May 31, 1984, it automatically converted to the local property tax system (delinquent license fees no longer cause automatic transfer to local property taxation).
You may be entitled to the $7,000 Homeowner Exemption or other exemptions through the County Assessor. It is important to note that you cannot qualify for both the Homeowner Exemption and the Renter's Credit on your California State Income Tax Return.
The state's Department of Housing and Community Development transfers title on Mobile Homes. They cannot transfer title of a used mobile home subject to local property taxes without a tax clearance from the county tax collector of the county in which the mobile home is located. In Sonoma County, please contact the Sonoma County Tax Collector to obtain a Mobile home Tax Clearance Certificate. Please note that any outstanding taxes owed must be paid before a Tax Clearance Certificate can be issued.
Remember that this type of title transfer applies only to mobile homes not on permanent foundations. If your mobile home is on a permanent foundation, the County Recorder treats it just like a conventional home title transfer.