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County of Madera


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On January 17, 2014, the Governor of California proclaimed a state of emergency due to the current drought conditions. On…

Notice: Property Taxes Due 12/11/17

Notice: Property Taxes Due 12/11/17

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Vessels are taxable and are appraised annually at their current market values. Their values are determined by employing a number of approaches, including a review of their purchase prices, the sales of comparable vessels, and other market data.

Vessel Frequently Asked Questions

  • Question: Why are Vessels assessed for property taxes?
    • The California Constitution (Section XIII, Article 1) provides 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 privately-owned vessels, aircraft, and automobiles are still subject to property tax.
  • Question: My Vessel is registered with the DMV and I pay a registration fee. Why must I also pay property taxes?
    • Property taxes for vessels are not collected through the registration fee, as they are with motor vehicles. Where automobiles are concerned, DMV registration fees do include both a registration fee and also what is known as an in-lieu fee for property taxes that is returned to local government in-lieu of a property tax assessment by the assessor. Though it may seem like you are being doubly-taxed, that is not the case.
  • Question: I sold my vessel, so do I still have to fill out the Vessel Owners' Report the Assessor sent me?
    • Yes. That's because the Assessor needs to know: 1) the date it was sold, and 2) Who purchased the vessel and is now the new assessee.
  • Question: I haven't used my vessel for a long time, so do I still have to fill out the Vessel Owners' Report the Assessor sent me?
    • Yes, because without all available information regarding the vessel's physical condition, an over assessment could result if you do not.
  • Question: I'm in the military. Doesn't that exempt me from filling-out the Vessel Owners' Report?
    • No, you must still fill-out the report. Some, but not all, military personnel may be exempt from paying vessel property taxes under Federal Law (Soldier's and Sailors' Relief Act of 1940), so the Assessor still needs to collect the information requested on the Vessel Owners' Report.
  • Question: My vessel is a documented vessel, must I still pay property taxes on it?
    • Yes. The law does not differentiate between vessels registered with the DMV and those "documented" with the Coast Guard, and both are subject to property taxation.
  • Question: I paid $10,000 for my vessel AND trailer, why has the Assessor assessed my vessel alone for the full $10,000?
    • This may have happened because the Assessor relied on information provided by the State DMV about the sale. In some cases, the State DMV neglects to allocate the value between vessel and trailer and reports it as a single number to the Assessor. The trailer is subject to a vehicle license fee that includes in-lieu property tax and should not be otherwise assessed. If you think the Assessor may have inadvertently assessed your vessel's trailer as part of your vessel's value, please contact our Personal Property Division.
  • Question: How did the Assessor determine the value of my vessel?
    • The Assessor uses various approaches to arrive at the value, including the purchase price of the vessel, improvements or upgrades that have been made to it, and the recent sales of comparable vessels in the open market. A recent, arm's length purchase of a vessel is considered to be a good indicator of its true market value.
  • Question: I keep my vessel docked in another county. Why did Madera County assess it?
    • If the vessel is registered to you in Madera County and the registration does not specify that it is docked in another county, then Madera County will assess it. If your vessel is habitually docked in another county, we will cancel the assessment and also notify the county in which your vessel is located of that action. To discuss the problem, contact our Personal Property Division.
  • Question: My documented vessel is in Mexico. Why is it still being assessed in Madera County?
    • A documented vessel is assessed at the 'place of documentation' unless it is kept elsewhere and notice of this fact has been sent to the Assessor of the county in which it is documented. Temporary absences of a few months duration would not affect the situs of the vessel. If you feel your vessel is being improperly assessed in Madera County, then you should call the Personal Property Division.
  • Question: I sold my vessel months ago, so why am I getting a tax bill for it?
    • Liability for vessel property taxes attaches to its owner as of 12:01 a.m. on January 1 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 vessel was sold soon after that date. Where the vessel was sold just before the lien date (December 30, for example), the new owner would be liable for the new bill. If you were not the owner on January 1, but the bill was issued in your name, then you need to contact the Personal Property Division, and notify the DMV of the name and address of the buyer.
  • Question: The vessel belonged to my relative when he or she died in March, so do we still have to pay the bill?
    • Liability for vessel property taxes attaches to its owner as of 12:01 a.m. on January 1 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, or their estate (if they are now deceased), is liable for the taxes. If the owner of record on the lien date is now deceased, you should contact the person or entity that is administering your relative's estate and bring the outstanding bill to their attention.
  • Question: My spouse and I were divorced and he or she got the vessel as part of the settlement. Can the Assessor bill the vessel in my spouse's name only now.
    • If, in a divorce proceeding, a spouse was given sole title to the vessel prior to 12:01 a.m. January 1 (the lien date), then that spouse alone would be liable for the tax bill created for that lien date. If title passed to your spouse after January 1, the bill would be issued to the owner or owners of record as of that date and, if your were both owners then, the Assessor could not remove your name. If your spouse was awarded the vessel prior to January 1, but the bill was issued in both your names, you will need to provide us with copies of those court documents which ordered the transfer to your spouse. To discuss the problem, contact the Personal Property Division.
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Contact the Assessor

200 W. 4th Street
Madera, CA 93637
Fax: (559)675-7654
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Office Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm

Assessor's Department Staff Spotlight

Jacquelyn Nieves - Assessor Staff Spotlight

J. SPOTLIGHT_20141009_140906 How long have you worked for the County? 7 1/2 years
What do you like most about your job? Serving the community and working with great people.
Why did you decide to work for the County? I saw an awesome opportunity for learning, growth and advancement.
What is your most memorable accomplishment during your County career? Becoming a valued employee and being entrusted with a wide variety of responsibilities.
When I'm not at work you can find me...Engrossed in some art project, cooking, sewing, and doing community work with my congregation.
What was your first job?  I was a waitress in a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles.
What is your favorite food? Always chocolate!
What is your favorite kind of music? My husband and I DJ'd for a few years, so I love variety - especially good dance music in-the-mix!
What is your favorite sports team? I'm more into art than sports, but I enjoy watching a good game with great friends.
If you were to travel anywhere in the world for a dream vacation, where would it be? To Uruguay, South America with my husband to see where he grew up and meet his family.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Happily retired, close to my parents and family in Arizona.

General County Contact

General County Contact
200 W. 4th Street
Madera, CA 93637
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Use this number to get general information about the County or County departments.  

For non-emergency information or service, dial 311