Extension of Last Day to File for Disaster Relief

NR# 56-P
Date: November 8, 2001
Customer and Taxpayer Services Division

Extension of Last Day to File for Disaster Relief

Claude Parrish, Chairman, State Board of Equalization, announced today a 40-day extension of the filing deadline for California taxpayers who believe their business property has suffered a decline in value due to the downturn in business attributable to the September 11 terrorist attacks on America. The extension will allow a reasonable time for taxpayers to calculate the impact on their property values, and still meet filing deadlines while state tax officials determine the extent to which relief may be granted under the law. The extension is of particular interest to the airline industry and related businesses.

Under the Board's action, the period in which county assessors may accept applications for property tax assessment reductions has been extended to December 24, 2001. Without the extension, the applications would have been due 60 days after the September 11 disasters, or on November 13. The possible relief will only be available in counties where the Board of Supervisors has adopted an ordinance authorizing such relief under Revenue and Taxation Code section 170.

Revenue and Taxation Code section 170 allows counties that adopt an ordinance under its terms to grant property tax relief in the current tax year to persons whose property has been damaged or destroyed by a major misfortune or calamity. Section 170 includes within the definition of damage a diminution in the value of property as a result of restricted access to property where that restricted access was caused by the major misfortune or calamity. Access to many airports in California was restricted in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Citing an opinion of his county counsel, Los Angeles County Assessor, Rick Auerbach, on October 18 announced that his office was processing calamity claims from property owners at the Los Angeles and Burbank airports, and the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors. At the same time Auerbach asked the legal staff of the State Board of Equalization to confirm the opinion of the county counsel, and apply that interpretation statewide.

The staff of the State Board of Equalization is currently reviewing the law, to determine whether these provisions of section 170, as well as other relief provisions in the law, can be used to grant property tax relief to affected business. If section 170 does not apply, relief cannot be granted in this tax year, but may be available in the next fiscal year if the values continue to be below this year's assessments.

Parrish urges all taxpayers who believe they may be entitled to relief to take advantage of this opportunity to preserve their rights to relief. At the same time, Parrish has asked assessors in all affected counties to be generous in applying the terms of this extension while the issues relating to possible relief are being resolved.

Questions regarding the extended filing deadline should be directed to the assessor in the county where the property is located.