Business Personal Property FAQs

Index of Topics:

  1. The Business Property Statement and Filing Requirements
  2. Completing the Business Property Statement
  3. Requesting Copies and Additional Forms
  4. You are Out Of Business or Do Not Own A Business
  5. Summary Judgments & Liens - How to Get Them Released
  6. How to Contact the Assessor's Personal Property Division

 

The Business Property Statement and Filing Requirements

1. Why did I receive a Business Property Statement - Form 571-L (BPS)?
You were sent a statement because our records indicate that you were in business on the lien date, January 1, and the Assessor is required to assess any taxable business personal property in your possession on that date.

2. What is the purpose of the Business Property Statement (BPS)?
The BPS collects information regarding business equipment, supplies and fixtures for each business location. The information an owner provides on the statement is then used to assess and tax property in accordance with California state law. The owner reports the acquisition costs of business equipment, supplies and fixtures that were owned on lien date at the address shown (location of the property). All 58 California county Assessors mail out similar statements that enable businesses to report the cost of their equipment, supplies, leased equipment, real property and improvements. 

3. Who must file a Business Property Statement (BPS)?
If the Assessor sends you a BPS, the law requires that you complete, sign and return the statement to the Assessor's Office in the time period specified. Any business that owns Personal Property and/or Fixtures having a total combined cost of $100,000 or more is required to file a BPS even if the Assessor does not request that you file one. 

4. Can I file my Business Property Statement electronically?
Yes, Business Property Statements may be filed electronically by using the Standard Data Record filing system either SDR or E-SDR. Learn more about using electronic filing

5. What is business personal property?
Business Personal Property includes all supplies, equipment and any fixtures used in the operation of a business (see Page 3 of the 571-L instructions for an explanation of what specifically constitutes a business fixture). Business inventory and licensed vehicles (except Special Equipment, 'SE' tagged, off-road vehicles) owned by the business are exempt from reporting (note: SE tagged and other off-road vehicles and equipment are taxable personal property and must be reported). 

6. Why do I have to pay taxes on my Business Property?
That's because the California Constitution states in part that, 'Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or the laws of the United States, (a) All property is taxable....' That is, unless otherwise exempted, all forms of tangible property are taxable in California and the Assessor must assess business personal property because the law requires him or her to do so. Some forms of personal property are exempt from taxation under the Constitution. For example, household furnishings, personal effects and business inventory are exempt under the law. However, Business Personal Property is not exempt under the law and neither are privately or business-owned boats or aircraft. For information, visit boat and aircraft assessments page.

7. Where can I obtain assistance in completing the BPS?
You may obtain assistance in completing the form using any of the following:

  • Telephone: You may call the Assessor's Office at (916) 875-0730, Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 4 P.M., where an Auditor-Appraiser is on duty to help you.
  • FAX: Our FAX number is (916) 875-0705.
  • In Person: 3701 Power Inn Rd, Suite 3000, Sacramento, CA 95826-4329. Office hours are 8 A.M. and 5 P.M.
  • e-mail: PPDutyApr@SacCounty.net
  • Internet Site: www.assessor.saccounty.net 

8. What is the 'lien date'?
The Lien Date is January 1 every year, and is also the date property taxes for any fiscal year become a lien against a business property owner. Where personal property is concerned, the lien is placed on the owner of the property (not the property), and owners who allow their personal property taxes to become delinquent may have a Summary Judgment recorded against them personally (see 'Judgments & Liens' section for more detail).  

9. How are personal property taxes used?
Approximately 50% of the property tax dollar is used to support K-12 grades and junior colleges, 32% is allocated to city government and other special districts, while 18% is allocated to support county government. 

10. What is the tax rate on personal property?
Throughout California, the property tax rate is 1% of assessed value (also applies to real property) plus any bonded indebtedness approved by the taxpayers. In Sacramento County, the average overall tax rate including bond debt averages perhaps 1.1%. 

11. How much in taxes will I have to pay due to this assessment?
The amount of taxes you will owe will depend on the amount of the assessment and the specific tax rate in your area. The average rate in our county is approximately 1.1% (.011) of assessed value (the 1% tax rate plus bond debt). For example, if your personal property was assessed for $10,000, your personal property tax bill should be roughly $110.00. 

12. What if the printed information on the BPS is incorrect?
If the business has moved or changed its mailing address, then draw a single line through the incorrect information (Please DO NOT make the preprinted information unreadable). Then legibly print or type the new information on the form and also indicate the effective date of the move or when the change became effective. When reporting a sale, include the new owner's name and mailing address. When reporting that the business has been closed, provide the date(s) and information relating to the disposition of any taxable personal property. Complete the BPS, sign and return it to the Assessor's Office. 

13. I do not own the real property. Do I still need to fill out the BPS?
Yes. Even if you don't own the real property where your business is located, you must still file the BPS because it is used to report business personal property (equipment, supplies, etc.) you do own. You must also complete any related schedules that apply to your particular business. If you do not own the real property, you may not need to complete Schedule B, columns 1, 3, and 4. If you own or have added any tenant-owned improvements, you will need to report their costs in column B-2 (see official instructions for the 571-L). 

14. What does the Assessor's Office do with the BPS after I mail it in?
We review the form for completeness and accuracy and then employ a number of methods to convert reported costs to an estimate of their lien date, fair market value (see question #15). After the Assessor has assessed your property and has finished processing your BPS, the form is then filed with your property tax records. By law, your BPS is NOT a public document and it is not open to public inspection. The assessment is forwarded to the County Auditor, who computes the taxes owed and then forwards that information to the Tax Collector, who in turn creates the bill and collects the tax. 

15. How is the assessed value of my business property determined?
The Assessor is required to annually assess most taxable personal property at 100% of its lien date, fair market value. In order to determine fair market value, the assessor employs a number of methodologies. For example:

  • The Assessor often relies on various trade publications and 'Blue Books' that provide current, open market sales price and/or cost data for various types of both new and used equipment, vehicles, aircraft and boats.
  • The Assessor trends actual owner-reported costs to a present replacement cost estimate using trending tables provided by the State Board of Equalization (or developed in-house). We then reduce the trended costs to reflect normal or actual depreciation and derive a market value estimate.

Unlike real property, which is assessed under Proposition 13, most personal property does not fall under Prop 13's umbrella (although it does enjoy the same, maximum 1% tax rate). The only exception is personal property 'fixtures,' which are defined as real property for property tax purposes and are subject to Proposition 13 restrictions. Unlike other real property Fixtures are not subject to Supplemental Assessment.

16. What happens if I do not return the BPS or return an Incomplete BPS?
Failure to File: Where a BPS is not filed as required by law or requested by the Assessor, then rely on the best information available in order to estimate the value of any personal property owned by the non-reporting business. In the absence of a BPS, an 'average' assessed value (based upon businesses of a similar size and use) may be used to derive such an estimate. Our office may also perform a field inspection of your business property, during which an estimate of the lien date, fair market value of the business personal property discovered will be made. Additionally, a 10% penalty must also be added to any assessment made as a result of a failure to file the BPS.

Incomplete Filing: If you file an incomplete BPS, the Assessor may return it to you for proper completion. In that case, penalties may be assessed if the Assessor's Office does not receive a properly completed BPS by the normal due date. An incomplete filing is treated the same as a 'failure to file' and a 10% penalty must be added in that circumstance.

17. What if I disagree with my assessment?
If you disagree with an assessment made by the Assessor, we recommend you first discuss it with an Auditor-Appraiser at the Assessor's Office. An Auditor-Appraiser is available Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. at (916) 875-0730, or in person at 3701 Power Inn Road, Suite 3000 Sacramento, Ca 95826-4329, from 8 A.M. and 5 P.M.. Whether or not you discuss the matter with the Assessor, you also have the right to file an assessment appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board. The Appeals Board is an independent agency representing the Board of Supervisors and is not connected with, nor is it under the control of, the Assessor's Office. 

18. How do I file an assessment appeal?
An application must be filed, in writing, with the Assessment Appeals Board at 700 H Street, Room 2450, Sacramento, CA 95814. You may request an application by calling (916) 874-7894, or by mail at that address. 

19. When can I file an assessment appeal'?
The normal filing period for filing an assessment appeal is July 2 to November 30* of the current fiscal year. That filing period applies to any assessment produced for the annual assessment roll. If a bill for the current assessment roll is mailed to you after the normal filing period has expired, the filing period is extended and you may then file an application within 60 days of the date of mailing of that tax bill.

*If November 30 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, mail postmarked on the next business day shall be deemed on time.  See the Assessment Appeals Board web site for exact details in any given year. 

Additionally, an application may be filed at any time where an owner believes the Assessor did not properly notify them of an assessment as required by law. In that circumstance, a preliminary hearing (known as a Jurisdictional Hearing) will be held in order for the Appeals Board to determine whether or not proper notice was given. If the Board finds proper notice was not given, it will then allow the appeal to go forward to a full valuation hearing. If however the Board finds proper notice was given, the application will be denied. 

20. What happens when I file an assessment appeal?
Once a formal assessment appeal has been filed with the Appeals Board, a hearing date will be set by the Board. Before the hearing takes place, you will need to gather data and evidence to support your opinion of value and then present it during the scheduled hearing. The Assessor's Office will also prepare evidence to present to the Board. At the hearing, all evidence and argument are presented to a three-member Appeals Board panel appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Once all presentations are complete, the Appeals Board may make a determination of value on the spot, or it may defer its decision until a later date so that it has time to review all the data and make a proper determination of value. If the decision is deferred, you will be notified of the decision by US mail once it has been rendered.

For guidance on how to prepare for an appeal, you may contact the Sacramento County Assessment Appeals Board at (916) 874-7894. Additionally, an appeal guideline has been published by the State Board of Equalization and is available on their Internet site at: www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/pub30.pdf (although the pamphlet is entitled Residential Property Appeals, it is helpful for personal property appeals as well). If you do not have Internet access, request a free copy of Pamphlet #30 from the Board of Equalization by phone at (916) 324-4019, or by mail at: SBOE Policy Planning & Standards, PO Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279-0064.

 

21. All the equipment I use is my own personal equipment; must I report it?
If you are using any 'personal' equipment in your business, then yes, it must be reported. For example, persons working out of their homes must report personal desks, computers, calculators etc, if those items are used in their business. Other examples include: 

  • Example 1: Someone operating an auto repair shop is using their own 'personal' tools in the business. In this case, such tools become assessable as business personal property and must be reported.
  • Example 2: A home business or auto repair shop goes out of business prior to January 1. In this case, any equipment previously used in the business that could revert back to 'personal' use is no longer taxable. Such items become nontaxable because they revert to being 'Household Furnishings or Personal Effects,' which are exempt.
  • Example 3: A grocery store goes out of business prior to January 1st but equipment such as freezer boxes and store shelving remains in the building on that date. In this case, such items would still be taxable and must be reported even though the business was closed on the lien date. That is because the equipment could not be used as 'Household Furnishings or Personal Effects.'

22. All the equipment I use was given to me and I don't know what to report?
Where the equipment you use in your business was acquired as a gift, you may report your estimate of its current market value on the BPS (that is, what you think it would sell for in the open market place). Enter that estimated value in the most current year's cost line and add a note indicating that the entry is an estimate.

23. Most of the equipment I use does not belong to me; a friend is letting me use it and I have no idea what it cost. Must I report their equipment on my BPS?
Yes. The BPS must show all taxable property owned, claimed, possessed, controlled or managed by the person filing the form. If you are responsible for paying the tax on the equipment, then you may estimate its value (see question #22) and report it on the BPS. On the other hand, if you are not responsible for its tax, then you should declare the equipment in Part III of the BPS (Equipment belonging to others). Where equipment is declared in Part III of the BPS, the Assessor will also send a BPS to the person reported as the equipment's actual owner. 

24. I only rent an office and all of the furniture and equipment belongs to the landlord. Do I still have to complete the BPS?
Yes. In this case, you need to write a remark about that circumstance on the BPS, or on an attachment to it. Also fill out Part III (Equipment Belonging To Others) of the form, and then sign and return it to the Assessor's Office. If you own any small equipment, such as a printer, copier, supplies, etc., that you are using in the business, you should report these costs under Part II of the BPS.

25. What is a supply item?
Any item that you are consuming in your business, such as office supplies, pencils, paper, calculator tape, stationary, envelopes, cleaning supplies, fuel etc. is a supply item. If you are a manufacturer, 'supplies' would not include anything that becomes part of the finished product. Materials or supplies that are integrated into the products you market are exempt because they become business inventory once in the products, and business inventory is exempt from property taxation. 

26. Can I just write 'Same as Last Year' on the BPS and return it?
No. You must report personal property holdings in detail and as requested or mandated. If nothing has changed from the prior year (no equipment was purchased or sold), then you may refer to your prior year's BPS filing in order to be consistent in completing the current BPS. If you failed to keep a copy of the prior year's filing, you may request a copy of it from the Assessor's Office (see the last entry of this document for contact information). 

27. The BPS shows my home address, but my office is located elsewhere. Do I still need to complete the BPS?
Yes. Note that circumstance in a remark on the BPS, or on an attachment to it, and also include the proper location and mailing address of your main office. Then sign and return the BPS to the Assessor's Office. 

 28. As a video store owner, do I report the actual cost of my video tapes?
No. You should only report the number of tapes that were out on rent the night of December 31, and you should report their cost as $5.00 per tape (the approximate cost of a blank, commercial quality tape). All other tapes in your stock would be considered inventory and are not taxable. You only report the equivalent cost of a blank tape because the material or movie recorded on the tape is considered an intangible and is also not taxable. 

29. I do not own anything and lease all my equipment. Must I still complete a BPS?
Yes. You are required to report this information in Part III of the BPS so that the Assessor can properly locate and assess the actual owner for the equipment. 

30. I have a business in my home. Do I still have to complete the BPS?
Yes. Any equipment used for a home business is considered to be business personal property and must be reported on the BPS. 

31. I am a hairdresser and rent space from the salon owner?
Do I still need to complete the BPS? Yes. Note these facts on the BPS, or on an attachment to it, and include the name and address of the business that actually owns the equipment. Then sign the BPS and return it. You also need to report any equipment you might own in Part II of the BPS. 

32. My business/organization is exempt. Do I still need to complete the BPS?
Yes. You still are required to complete the BPS even if you are an exempt organization. You may contact the Exemption Section at (916) 875-0720 to verify your exempt status or to file an exemption claim.

33. What happens if I simply refuse to file a Business Property Statement?
In such a circumstance, you need to be aware that a number of penalties may apply: 

  • If a property owner refuses to comply with a lawful, written request for information from the Assessor, then R&T 501 requires the Assessor to estimate the value of their taxable property and then promptly assess it with whatever information is available.
  • If the refusal also includes a failure to file or incomplete filing of the BPS, then the Assessor must also add a 10% penalty under R&T 463.
    If an owner willfully conceals, fails to disclose or misrepresents tangible personal property, an additional 25% penalty may be added under R&T 502 & 504.
  • Under R&T 503, a 75% penalty may also be added to an assessment for any fraudulent acts or omissions committed by the owner or their agent.
  • R&T 462 also tells us that any person who refuses to make available to the Assessor information lawfully requested in writing by the Assessor pursuant to R&T 441 is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six-months in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

 

Requesting Copies and Additional Forms

34. How do I request copies of prior year filings?
The owner or their agent may request copies either in person or in writing. The cost for prior year copies is $2.00 for the 1st page and $1.00 per additional page. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with written requests; otherwise, postage is an additional $1.25. Enclose a check for the proper amount made out to Sacramento County Assessor's Office.

Note: If an agent is requesting copies or other information about a taxpayer's account, they must first file a letter of authorization appointing them as the owner's agent. That letter must be an original copy bearing the original signature of the owner and the owner's phone number. If the owner is a corporation or business, the letter of agency must be on the company's official stationery and signed by an officer of the corporation. 

35. How do I request additional forms?
Many of our forms are posted on the Assessor's Internet site and may be printed from the site. Visit our forms page.

If you are unable to find the form you need on the Assessor's web page or do not have access to the Internet, then you may request additional forms by phone, by fax or by mail. See the last section of this document, 'How to Contact the Personal Property Division,' for the phone numbers and mailing address you will need in order to do so. 

36. How do I obtain a copy of the current year's BPS after it has been processed by the Assessor and shows the assessed values?
When requesting current value information, please include the request with your completed BPS, a copy of the completed BPS, and enclose a self-addressed stamped return envelope. Otherwise, you must send a separate request as specified above in question #34. 

 

37. I went out of business on January 15th. Do I still have to complete the BPS and pay personal property taxes?
Yes. The law specifies that all taxable personal property must be assessed as of a specific point in time, and that point is precisely at 12:01 A.M. January 1, regardless of what transpires after that date. Even if closed shortly after the lien date, a business must still file a BPS and pay taxes for the coming fiscal year on any taxable property they owned on the lien date. 

38. I was not open for business on January 1. Do I still have to complete the BPS?
Yes. A business does not have to be open for its taxable personal property to be subject to assessment. For example, let's presume that on the lien date, January 1, a new pizza parlor is under construction and nearly ready for its grand opening. Even though the pizza parlor was not open for business on the lien date, taxable business personal property (such as furniture, ovens and supplies) was in the owner's possession on the lien date and the Assessor is required to assess it. See also Question #21. 

39. I went out of business prior to January 1. Do I still have to complete the BPS?
Yes. Anytime a person receives a BPS from the Assessor and their business is no longer in operation, the BPS must still be signed and returned to the Assessor. You should also include a note on the BPS indicating that the business has closed. If you don't, the Assessor will not be aware of that fact and may continue to assess the property despite its true circumstance.

On the BPS or an attachment to it, please write a note that includes the date you went out of business, as well as the status and disposition of any equipment owned or used by you at the time the business closed. If any of the property was sold to another person or business, please indicate the buyer's name and address. If any of the property reverted to your own personal use as household personal property, we need to know what property did that as well. Then sign and return the BPS to the Assessor's Office.

Note: Where a business has closed but you still own equipment previously used in the business, it may still be taxable despite the fact the business is closed (see question #21 for an example). If the equipment you still own can be converted to household uses (that is, could become your personal effects), then it may not be assessable (see question #21). 

40. All I have is a business phone number. I'm no longer in business and I'm not conducting any other business at the present time. Must I still file the BPS?
Yes. Please note those facts on the BPS, or attachment to it, and return the signed BPS to the Assessor's Office. The Assessor needs to know these facts in order to prevent an improper assessment from being issued to you. 

41. Although I have a license to do business, I haven't purchased any equipment or conducted any business as yet. Must I still file the BPS?
Yes. Please note those facts on the BPS, or attachment to it, and return the signed BPS to the Assessor's Office. The Assessor needs to know these facts in order to prevent an improper assessment from being issued to you. 

42. I am only an employee of the company and I don't own any business personal property myself. Must I still file the BPS?
Yes. Please note those facts on the BPS, or attachment to it, and return the signed BPS to the Assessor's Office. Also include the name of the company you work for and its mailing address. The Assessor needs to know these facts in order to prevent an improper assessment being issued to you. 

 

43. My personal property taxes went delinquent and a Summary Judgment was recorded against me. How do I get the judgment released?
There are two circumstances under which a Summary Judgment may be released:

  1. Payment of Debt: Paying the delinquent bill (including all penalties and costs) will result in a release of the judgment. You should contact the Tax Collector's Office (see below) to determine the current amount due, and then simply pay the tax bill in full. Upon satisfaction of all delinquent taxes, penalties, and costs, the Tax Collector will record a Satisfaction of Judgment, thereby releasing the lien.
  2. Invalid or Corrected Bill: If you believe the bill or the assessment is invalid, you should contact the Assessor (see final section of this document) to discuss that matter.

Once the Assessor determines the bill to be invalid, Tax Collector will record a Release without fee upon cancellation or correction of the assessment by the Assessor. Once your personal property tax obligation has been satisfied or corrected and a release has been recorded, a copy of the Satisfaction of Judgment or the Release will be mailed to you by the County Clerk-Recorder's Office. If needed, additional copies of the Summary Judgment and/or the Release may also be purchased from the County Clerk-Recorder. It is our understanding that the entire process, from debt satisfaction to recordation of the release, ordinarily takes roughly four weeks to complete. 

The Tax Collector's Office is located on the 1st floor of the County Administration Building, 700 H Street, Room 1710, Sacramento, CA 95814. You may contact unsecured personal property tax staff by telephone at (916) 874-7833.

 

How to Contact the Assessor's Personal Property Division

  • 3701 Power Inn Rd, Suite 3000, Sacramento, CA 95826-4329, between the hours of 8 A.M. and 5 P.M.
  • Telephone: (916) 875-0730, Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.
  • Fax: (916) 875-0705
  • E-mail: PPDutyApr@SacCounty.net
  • Internet: http://www.assessor.saccounty.net
  • US Mail: Personal Property Division, Sacramento County Assessor's Office, 3701 Power Inn Rd, Suite 3000, Sacramento, CA 95826-4329