Taxpayers' Rights Advocate

Business Taxes

The Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office (TRA) facilitates resolution of taxpayer complaints and problems; monitors various Board tax and fee programs and property tax programs for compliance with the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights; handles projects at the request of the Executive Director; and recommends new or revisions to existing legislation, policies, or procedures, to enhance the Board's public service goals.

Generally, the TRA Office helps taxpayers when they are unable to resolve a matter through normal channels, have difficulty in moving up the chain of command, or when they want information regarding the process or procedures relating to a particular set of circumstances or regarding their rights.

Taxpayers also call seeking assurances or confirmation that staff action is lawful and just. In cases where the law, policy, or procedure does not allow any change to the staff action, the TRA Office is alerted to a potential area which may need clarification or modification. Many of the past recommendations for policy or procedural changes, and legislative proposals, have resulted from contacts with taxpayers.

Publication 70, The California Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, will give you more information on the program as it relates to business issues.

Property Taxes

TRA staff provide guidance on how taxpayers can communicate better with state and county staff and less often on how staff can communicate with the taxpayer. Taxpayers are provided information so that they are on a level playing field with state and county staff. For information on the property taxes program we suggest that you contact the appropriate county offices: the assessor for assessment, exemption and valuation questions; the clerk of the board of supervisors for assessment appeals questions; the tax collector for questions about taxes and liens; and the auditor-controller about refunds and tax rates.

History

In January 1989, the original Taxpayers' Bill of Rights was established to ensure that the rights, privacy, and property of California taxpayers was adequately protected in the assessment and collection of sales and use taxes. Currently approximately one million taxpayers are provided protection under the law. Effective January 1993, the Special Taxes Bill of Rights was established, expanding Bill of Rights authority for the special taxes programs administered by the Board, currently impacting approximately 250,000 taxpayers. As the Board accepts responsibility for new special taxes and fee programs, the Bill of Rights protections are added for each program.

Property Taxes

The Morgan Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights went into effect January 1, 1994. The legislative intent is to ensure that taxpayers are provided fair and understandable explanations of their rights and duties with respect to property taxation, prompt resolution of legitimate questions and appeals regarding their property taxes, and prompt corrections when errors have occurred in property tax assessments.