Assessment Practices Survey Division


The BOE's assessment practices survey program (survey) is one of the State's major efforts to promote uniformity, fairness, equity, and integrity in the property tax assessment system. The California Government Code sections 15640 through 15646, Revenue and Taxation Code section 169, and Property Tax Rules 370, 370.5, and 371, mandate and outline the survey program. The purpose of the survey is to ensure the Assessor's compliance with state law governing the administration of local property taxation. The survey concentrates on statutory mandates and revenue-related issues.

The need for compliance with the laws, rules, and regulations governing the property tax system and related assessing activities is very important in today's fiscally stringent times. The importance of compliance is twofold. First, the statewide maximum tax rate is set at one percent of taxable value. Therefore, a reduction of local revenues occurs in direct proportion to any undervaluation of property. (It is not legally allowable to raise the tax rate to compensate for increased revenue needs.) Secondly, with a major portion of every property tax dollar statewide going to public schools, a reduction in available local property tax revenues has a direct impact on the State's General Fund, which must backfill any property tax shortfall.

The BOE's survey program is conducted on a five-year cycle. During a survey, BOE staff conducts an audit of the Assessor's procedures and practices. Staff then publishes an assessment practices survey report that summarizes the findings and includes recommendations for improvement. In most cases, the final survey report includes the Assessor's response to each recommendation. In addition, each year BOE staff perform appraisal samples of five county assessment rolls as a component of the survey or as a stand-alone report. A statistically representative sample is drawn from the county assessment roll. BOE staff audits and appraises each property in the sample and compares the results to the Assessor's values. Staff then expands the results to determine whether the total assessment roll complies with statutory standards.

An assessment practices survey is not a comprehensive audit of the Assessor's entire operation. BOE staff does not examine internal fiscal controls or the internal management of an Assessor's office outside those areas related to assessment. In terms of current auditing practices, an assessment practices survey resembles a compliance audit—the BOE's primary objective is to determine whether assessments are being made in accordance with property tax law.


  1. Unless otherwise stated, all statutory references are to the California Revenue and Taxation Code and all rule references are to sections of California Code of Regulations, Title 18, Public Revenues.