It’s important to note that there can be key differences between the state wide tax laws and those found at the county level. I recommend learning the state laws first and then moving on to the intricacies of how your county differs. As with everything else I’ve talked about, your primary two options for locating the local laws are doing a quick Google search and picking up the phone to call the county.
Given the nature of internet searches, it’s important to note that not all of your search results will be valid facts. You’ll find your searches littered with opinions and sales pitches. To make sure you’re getting the right information, you’ll want to look for the results from legitimate government sites that carry the .gov domain.
In the sample searches above, you would find this page:
This breaks the tax code down into multiple sections. Under Division 1. Property Taxation you’ll see Part 6. Tax Sales (§§ 3351–3972), Part 7. Redemption (§§ 4101–4379) and Part 8. Distribution (§§ 4651–4717) that would directly affect your tax deed purchasing adventures. In these laws and guidelines you’ll see regulations that dictate everything from tax sale notifications to excess proceeds disbursement.
At the county level, things can get a little bit more complicated because the legitimate website might not carry a .gov domain. In this case, you would look for the county assessor’s website and take note of where they direct you to for the tax collector. For an example of this, I’ll again refer to the San Bernardino, California results.
The county website is found here: http://www.sbcounty.gov/ATC/Divisions/ TaxCollector but it doesn’t make it obvious as to where we can find the tax collector’s website. Clicking on “Online Services” provides us with multiple links to http://www.mytaxcollector.com telling us that any information we find there can be considered official.
** A quick disclaimer here is that any legal shortcomings of the county website are YOUR responsibility. Always consult an attorney if you want the best and most current information. **
Searching for a specific code:
Any time you’re looking up taxation codes or laws in general, you’ll undoubtedly see the phrase “pursuant to…” repeatedly. You may also see intermittent references to a specific code or code set in parenthesis like (§ 4675(d)) after a statement or explanation. Whenever you see this, you should stop and get familiar with the reference. It’s the legal equivalent of a teacher telling the class to take good notes because: “This WILL be on the test.”
Why is this information important?
It should be fairly obvious that knowing the law will save you money and heartaches in the future. What may NOT be overtly obvious however is how understanding who has what power and why can help you. Continuing the excess proceeds example from above, knowing that the Board of Supervisors controls the requirements for claims is very powerful information. As an investor in this county that’s highly involved with submitting these claims, you now know who to petition in order to positively affect policy in your favor. If you find that many people complain about the claim process, you now know exactly who to take this problem to and can begin creating a solution! Positive
interactions with your local governing body is never a bad thing.
Thank you so much again for reading and for being a part of the TAI Community!