Property Taxes- Unsecured


Per the California Revenue & Taxation Code, any individual who owns a taxable asset on January 1st at 12:01 a.m. (the lien date) of any given year is responsible for any taxes for the upcoming fiscal year. This date determines the liability for the upcoming fiscal year (July 1st to June 30th). The sale, disposal or removal of the property from San Luis Obispo County after January 1, the lien date, does not relieve the owner of record of the obligation to pay the tax, unless an agreement to pay taxes is signed in escrow and filed with the Tax Collector's Office. Any prorating must be done between the private parties. Neither the Assessor, Auditor nor the Tax Collector can prorate unsecured taxes.

California law (Revenue and Taxation Code Section 2903) requires the County Tax Collector to collect taxes on certain business property, such as equipment and fixtures, and certain personal property, such as boats and airplanes.

Each year the County Assessor assesses values for taxable property on January 1st for the upcoming fiscal year, which runs from July 1st to June 30th. The County Auditor calculates taxes due by multiplying the assessed values by the tax rate. The Tax Collector then issues tax bills in July and collects the taxes due in August. The January 1st owner is responsible for the taxes for the upcoming fiscal year.

The term "unsecured property tax" refers to taxes on items that can be relocated and are not real estate.

Unsecured tax bills are issued for tangible business personal property owned, claimed, possessed or controlled in the conduct of a business, profession or trade. Examples of taxable business property include, but are not limited to:

  • Machinery
  • Equipment
  • Furniture
  • Fixtures
  • Fax machines
  • Photocopiers
  • Computers
  • Telephones
  • Desks and chairs
  • Bookcases
  • Supplies 

Review the  Assessor's pamphlet regarding business property assessments.

In California, all aircraft, vessels, boats, and personal watercraft are assessable as personal property and are subject to local property tax. The Assessor is required to value all aircraft, vessels, boats, and watercraft principally based within the county as of the lien date on (January 1st 12:01 a.m.)

For additional information see the Assessor's informational section on Aircraft and Boat Assessments.

Unsecured assessments are appraised annually.

Each person owning taxable business personal property, vessel(s), or airplane(s) must file a signed property statement each year with the Assessor's Office. The necessary forms are available on the Assessor's website.

The unsecured tax bill identifies the following:

  • The owner of record as of the legal lien date, January 1st.
  • The property location, when available.
  • The property description.
  • The assessed value of the property.
  • The amount and type of exemption, if applicable.
  • The amount of taxes due.
  • The due and delinquent dates.

Unsecured tax bills are mailed in July.  If you have not received your unsecured tax bill by July 31st, please visit the Tax Collector's website: Unsecured Property Tax Information Search to view, print and pay the tax bill by credit card or electronic check. A processing fee is charged for credit card payments.

Unsecured taxes become due on the legal lien date, January 1st, but are not billed until July.  Unsecured tax bills become delinquent on August 31st.

If the delinquent date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the payment must be in the Tax Collector's Office by 5:00 p.m., paid online or postmarked and deposited in the United States mail prior to midnight on the next business day.

ONLINE - Electronic bank transfers (no fee) and credit card payments (fees apply) are accepted on the Tax Collector's website: To avoid penalties, payments must be made on the website prior to midnight on the delinquency date.

BY MAIL - Send check, cashier's check, or money order. DO NOT MAIL CASH. The tax collector disclaims any responsibility for cash sent by mail. Send payment to:

San Luis Obispo County Tax Collector
1055 Monterey St. Room D-290
County Government Center, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

To avoid penalties, payments must be postmarked and deposited in the United States mail or independent delivery service by midnight on the delinquency date.

IN PERSON - Cash, checks, and credit cards are accepted at the County Tax Collector's Office, 1055 Monterey St. Room D-290, County Government Center, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408. To avoid penalties, payments must be in the Tax Collector's office by 5:00 p.m. on the delinquency date.

BY PHONE - Electronic bank transfers (no fee) or credit card (fees apply) only.  To avoid penalties, payments must be made by 5:00 p.m. on the delinquency date.

ELECTRONIC BANK TRANSFERS (E-CHECK) AND CREDIT CARD INFORMATION - There is no fee to pay by e-check. A processing fee is added on credit card payments. To avoid penalties, online e-check or credit card payments must be made by midnight on the delinquency date.  If paid by phone, they must be made by 5:00 p.m. on the delinquency date.

HOME BANKING - Enter Assessment Number in the Account field.  To avoid penalties, the posting date must be prior to midnight on the delinquency date.

We accept as negotiable instruments only those items drawn in U.S. dollars on U.S. banks.

If your bill is not paid and the installment becomes delinquent, State law requires that a delinquency penalty of ten percent (10%) must be added to the tax bill. A lien will be recorded in the assessed owner's name. The lien will appear on your credit record and will adversely affect your credit. A release of lien fee and delinquent collection costs will be charged. After the lien has been recorded, interest of 1.5 percent (1.5%) of the original unpaid tax is added on the first day of each month thereafter.

Taxes due may be collected by bank levy, judgment, seizure and sale of the personal property, in the amount of any of the unsecured property assessed pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code 2951.

If you are unable to pay the full amount of the unsecured bill, you may contact the Tax Collector's office to set up a short-term monthly payment plan. There are installment plan fees for this arrangement. The payment plan does not prevent a lien from being recorded, remove a DMV hold, nor does it stop the accrual of interest and penalties. Future unsecured tax bills must be paid in a timely manner to avoid default of the payment plan.

A lien is placed against the individual for delinquent unpaid unsecured taxes. In order to release the lien, all taxes, penalties, interest, and fees must be paid in full. Upon payment, the Tax Collector's office files a release of lien which indicates that the lien has been satisfied. Taxpayers must be aware that neither the Tax Collector nor the County Recorder is responsible for notifying the credit reporting agencies. It may be necessary for the taxpayer to provide the release information to the credit reporting agency.

Pursuant to the Revenue and Taxation Code Section 2610.5, failure to receive a tax bill does not relieve the taxpayer of responsibility for payment, nor does it constitute cause for cancellation or waiver of penalties or costs should the bill become delinquent.

You should first discuss the matter with the Assessor's Office, Business Property Division at (805) 781-5643. If an informal agreement cannot be reached, the taxpayer has the right to file an Application for Changed Assessment with the County Assessment Appeals Board. Further information regarding the appeals process may be obtained by calling (805) 781-5080, or by writing to:

County Clerk-Recorder
County Government Center
1055 Monterey Street, Room D-120
San Luis Obispo, California 93408.

The Revenue and Taxation Code requires you to pay the full amount of the current tax bill.  You will receive a refund with interest (if interest is greater than $10.00) upon a correction issued by the Assessor's office.

Upon payment in full of all delinquent taxes, the Tax Collector's Office will process an electronic release to DMV. The DMV will need to be contacted by the taxpayer in order to obtain release of any required registration tags.