December 22, 2002
The primary job of the assessor is to enroll fair and accurate real and personal
property values for property tax purposes. Real property includes land,
structures and vineyards. Personal property consists of business equipment,
aircraft and vessels. Accurate appraisal of all types of property requires a
flow of information between property owners and assessor staff. Unlike most
public officials, the assessor is given specific authorization by state law to
keep information obtained from property owners strictly confidential.
The assessor uses several approaches to gather information. Our state-certified
real property appraisers and personal property auditor-appraisers make frequent
phone calls and personal contacts with property owners and their
representatives. Personal contacts can include visits by field appraisers to
review the condition of the property at the time of a transfer, to measure and
obtain finish details on new construction and to examine the condition and
quantity of business equipment. After a value has been enrolled, we encourage
property owners to contact us if there are any questions about the enrolled
value so that we can obtain further information if warranted.
The assessor also sends out a number of forms for property owners to complete.
In the real property division the most frequently used forms are Change of
Ownership statements, vine reports, California Land Conservation (Williamson)
Act questionnaires, income and expense statements for income property, decedent
letters inquiring as to the heirs to real property in an estate, New
Construction and Yard Improvement questionnaires and inquiries to legal entities
as to changes in proportional interests in the entity.
The information compiled from these questionnaires enables the appraisal staff
to determine whether a reappraisal is required under Proposition 13. If a
reappraisal is required, the information also allows the appraiser to make value
judgments based on the true condition of the property. We also ask for the
telephone number or e-mail address of the person reporting so that we can follow
up with a personal contact if a response needs clarification.
Personal property owners are asked to fill out agricultural and business
property statements, aircraft owner's reports and vessel reports. The
information gathered from these statements is the basis for determining the
value of the property reported as of January 1 of each year.
It is important for property owners to take as much time as necessary to
complete these forms accurately as omissions or mistakes can result in higher
property taxes. Business property is valued using acquisition cost to which a
factor is applied. Reporting the wrong year of acquisition or failing to report
equipment disposals can result in more taxes being paid than are required.
Aircraft and vessel owners need to inform us if their property has been sold or
damaged so that we can either remove the assessment or adjust it. As an example,
reporting the correct engine hours for an aircraft can result in a change in
Should you have any questions please contact Napa County Assessor John Tuteur at
253-4459 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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