The California Constitution states that all tangible property is taxable unless it is otherwise exempted by the Constitution or by the legislature. Household personal property was exempted in the 1950's, but boats and aircraft are still subject to property tax. They are appraised annually at their current market values. Their values are determined by a review of their purchase price, sales of comparable boats and airplanes, and other market data.
With motor vehicles, DMV registration fees include both a registration fee and also what is known as an in-lieu fee. This is a fee returned to local government instead of a property tax assessment by the Assessor. Property taxes for boats are not collected with the DMV registration fee as they are with motor vehicles. Though it may seem like you are being doubly-taxed, that is not the case.
Liability for vessel property taxes attaches to its owner as of 12:01 a.m. on January 1st each year (the Lien Date). The bill for the coming tax year is then issued to the owner of record at that time, and that individual is liable for the taxes even if the boat was sold soon after that date. If the boat was sold just before the lien date, the new owner would be liable for the new bill. If you were not the owner but the bill was issued in your name, then contact our office. Read the instructions carefully when filling out form BOE 576-D, Vessel Property Statement.
Boats that have been sold or moved out of county should be reported to the Assessor with form FCA 3169 so that the correct owner is assessed.
Some military personnel may be exempt from paying vessel property taxes under Federal Law (Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act). Form BOE 261-D, Service members Civil Relief Act Declaration, should be returned with the completed and signed BOE 576-D. It can be found in the Personal Property section of the forms page.
Aircraft are assessed in the county where normally located when not in flight. The Assessor also relies on, but is not limited to, FAA registration information in determining the taxable location of the aircraft. The purpose of form BOE 577, Aircraft Property Statement, is to provide the Assessor with information regarding the aircraft that will aid in the determination of fair market value for the current year.
Failure to file an Aircraft Property Statement will require the Assessor to estimate the aircraft value and apply a penalty. If an aircraft was sold, destroyed, or permanently removed from Fresno County prior to January 1st, details should be provided on the statement.
Aircraft of historical significance may be eligible for exemption if certain criteria are met. Contact our office for more information or download form BOE 260-B, Claim for Exemption from Property Taxes of Aircraft of Historical Significance, from the Personal Property section of the forms page.