Breaking Down Los Angeles Property Taxes

The median home price in Los Angeles rose 7.5% from last year, and with that increase also comes an increase in L.A. property taxes. How much you pay in property tax is dictated by the cost of your home and the land on which it sits, but it’s also largely determined by where in Los Angeles you call home. California’s property tax assessments are necessary but also complex, paying for a whole host of services in the state.

Your property taxes cover public schooling, community colleges, fire and rescue, and other essential services. While property tax is a local tax, it does have an effect on state budgets. Because the largest recipient of property tax dollars is schools, your property taxes often reduce the state burden on those costs. Every homeowner at some point has complained about their property taxes, but understanding where the money goes may help set your mind at ease.

How Are Property Taxes Assessed in Los Angeles?

Property tax in Los Angeles begins with a 1 percent general property tax. Direct or special assessments, which are levied by your municipality, are then added to that amount. The average tax rate for Los Angeles is 1.16 percent of the value of your home. Proposition 13, passed in 1978, reduced the amount of taxes Californians pay in property tax by about 57 percent. While reducing the tax rate to 1 percent, it also established guidelines for existing homes, stating that taxes on homes, business, and farms could not increase more than 2 percent in a given year. There are only four conditions that allow for a reappraisal of property taxes.

  • A change in ownership
  • Completed new construction
  • New construction partially completed on the lien date
  • A decline in value

Reappraisals are determined by the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor. It is this office that decides if a change in ownership or new construction merits a new assessment. If construction is done on an existing home or building, the Office of the Assessor can also determine if the work or addition has added value to the property. These assessments, made by the county, may be appealed if you feel they were made in error.

Who Pays the Most L.A. Property Taxes?

The city of Bell currently pays the second highest property taxes in the county. While the average in L.A. is 1.16 percent, the residents of Bell pay a whopping 1.55 percent. This has angered some residents whose local government officials also earn some of the highest salaries in the Los Angeles area.

While it would seem at first glance that areas within L.A. boasting the highest income, best schools and services, and largest homes would be paying the most, that is obviously not the case. Manhattan Beach, for example, was 79th out of 88 with some of the lowest property taxes in the county. Luckily, the LA times has broken down property taxes for all the county’s 88 cities.

See where you rank and ask yourself, are you paying too much? If so, then it may be time to move.


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