LAO Reports

Understanding California’s Property Taxes

November 29, 2012

 


Property taxes and charges are a major source of revenue for thousands of local governments in California, generating more than $55 billion in revenue in 2010-11. At the same time, many elements of California's property tax system are complex and not well understood. The purpose of this report is to serve as an introductory reference to this key funding source. In the report, we answer some common questions about the state's property taxes, such as: what taxes and charges are on the property tax bill, what properties make up California's tax base, which local local governments receive property tax revenue, and how does the property tax affect the state budget. We also identify some policy concerns related to how property tax revenue is distributed among local governments and evaluate the property tax system relative to common tax policy criteria.