Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office

Lisa Thompson

Lisa Thompson is our Taxpayers' Rights Advocate. Lisa and the Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office staff are independent of the agency's program staff. The Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office helps taxpayers who are unable to resolve a problem through normal channels. Our goal is to protect your rights and ensure your tax problems are handled promptly and fairly.

We are here to serve you.

Your Rights and Help with Unresolved Issues

We can help if you have a question regarding your rights or if you have a disagreement with the programs administered by the State Board of Equalization, or county agencies involved in California's property tax system. Some taxpayers contact us to communicate their frustration with aspects of the property taxation system or seeking confirmation that they have been treated lawfully and fairly by a county or state office.

In cases where the law, policy, or procedure does not allow any change to the staff action, but a change appears justified, the Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office is alerted to a potential area that may need clarification or modification. Several past recommendations for policy, procedural, and legislative changes have resulted from these types of contacts with taxpayers.

Our office facilitates communication between taxpayers, the State Board of Equalization, and county staff to eliminate potential misunderstandings. Taxpayers are provided information on policies and procedures so they can be better prepared to discuss their issues with the appropriate staff and increase the opportunity to affect a resolution which will satisfy them.

For property tax information, we suggest that you begin your contact with the appropriate county offices where your property is located:

  • Assessor for assessment, exemption, and valuation questions;
  • Clerk of the board of supervisors for assessment appeals questions;
  • Tax Collector for questions about taxes and liens; and
  • Auditor-Controller about refunds and tax rates.

Contact information for these offices in each of the 58 California counties are provided on the Board of Equalization website; and can be accessed at: http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/proptax.htm under county listings.

Suggestions and Comments

Our office ensures that taxpayers are provided fair and understandable explanations of their rights and duties with respect to property taxation. We would like to help with your suggestions on how the State Board of Equalization can improve its services to the public, laws, policies, or procedures; or material it publishes. We would also like to help you with your suggestions concerning the property tax related functions handled by local government offices of the assessor, clerk of the board, tax collector, and auditor-controller.

The State Board of Equalization seeks to assist county assessors and their staffs, local boards of equalization and assessment appeals boards, and taxpayers on property tax assessment matters. Our office ensures that guidance on various property tax matters is available in simple and nontechnical language. If you have identified an area where you believe information is lacking or could be improved upon, then bring it to our attention and we will work toward a solution. We are interested in hearing your comments and suggestions on how we can clarify and/or simplify property tax processes, guidance, reporting and instructions. Send your comments and suggestions to us.

How to Contact Us

You may contact us regarding your property tax issue or business tax program which our agency is responsible for (alcoholic beverage tax and tax on insurers) by using the E-mail request form available through the link below or you can write a letter explaining your situation and concern. Requests submitted on the E-mail request form are immediately forwarded to the Taxpayers' Rights Advocate office. If you prefer to write a letter, please include your name, mailing address, phone number, and if applicable email address; along with the explanation of your issue, concern or suggestion. (If your contact pertains to sales or use tax, please contact the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration which as of July 1, 2017 became responsible for such taxes.)

Taxpayer Rights Advocate Office Request (E-mail us)

Mail:
Taxpayers' Rights Advocate
State Board of Equalization
450 N Street, MIC 120
PO Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0120
Phone: 1- 916-327-2217 (See Important Notice Below)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Sales tax concerns should be directed to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate Office at 1-888-324-2798.

Taxpayer Education

The Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office wants to help you, as a California taxpayer, understand property tax laws and the exclusions or exemptions available to you that may result in property tax savings. In 2018, our office began issuing a series of publications, referred to as Information Sheets, on various exclusion and exemption topics that describe the purpose and requirements of the exclusion or exemption, how to apply for it, helpful hints, and where find additional information. Such Information Sheets can be accessed at the following location:

Taxpayers' Rights Annual Report

The Legislature requires the Property Taxpayers' Advocate to submit an annual report to the Executive Director of the State Board of Equalization. This report, presented to the agency's elected Board, identifies information on the types of contacts received by the Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office in the previous fiscal year and the services provided. The most recent annual report, for fiscal year 2016-17, can accessed here by selecting: "current year's report"; annual reports for all fiscal years are available at the following location:

Taxpayers' Bill of Rights Hearings

Each year, the Taxpayers' Rights Advocate Office holds a public hearing where taxpayers, assessors, or other local agencies can comment on areas identified in the current Taxpayers' Rights Annual Report; and provide suggestions on how to correct those problems. Parties can share ideas or express concerns at the public hearing. Information on the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights Hearings for the State Board of Equalization may be accessed at the following location:

Other Advocate Offices

Other government agencies in California have a Taxpayers' Rights Advocate. In addition to California state agencies, the Internal Revenue Service also has local offices in California. Refer to the agencies listed below and corresponding links:

Publication and Message from the Advocate

Publication 70 (September 2011) discusses the taxpayer rights for business taxes and property taxes. As a result of Assembly Bill 102, as of July 1, 2017 certain tax and fee programs of the State Board of Equalization were transferred to the newly created California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. Publication 70 will be revised to reflect the taxpayer advocacy responsibilities of the agency. Access the current publication: Publication 70, Understanding Your Rights as a California Taxpayer