Orinda Property Tax Explained

Orinda property tax is an annual obligation for homeowners in the city. The amount due is calculated based on a percentage of the overall value of your home. If you want to learn more about property tax in Orinda, this article provides answers to common questions, helping you prepare for your move to the city.

Renée White

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July 20, 2023
Table of content

    How Much Do Orinda Property Taxes Cost?

    When considering a move to a new area, it is important to research and find the exact property tax rate for the specific address you are interested in. The average property tax rate in Orinda currently stands at 1.11%, which is similar to the average rate in Contra Costa. However, property tax rates can vary from one neighborhood to another. If you need assistance in finding specific rates, we can help.

    The California base rate of 1% serves as the foundation for property tax in Orinda. The rate can only exceed 1% if there are special or direct assessments in place that require a higher rate. Local authorities consider various factors when determining property tax rates, including:

    • Average property values in the area
    • The funding needed for local projects
    • The median income levels of residents

    Fairness is always prioritized when setting property tax rates.

    With Orinda’s property tax rates being close to the Contra Costa average, it is an attractive area for those seeking rates lower than the national average. Additionally, there are options available to reduce your tax liability, which we will discuss later. Orinda is an affluent city with average property values exceeding $1 million, thus a lower rate of property tax is sufficient to generate the required funds. If you are considering a move to this highly sought-after city, we can provide assistance.

    Photograph of elegant townhouses in a row for Orinda property tax

    How Do I Calculate My Property Taxes In Orinda?

    There are two important pieces of information required to calculate property taxes in Orinda:

    1. The actual property tax rate
    2. The assessed market value of the property

    Once you have these, the calculation is straightforward. Begin by calculating the 1% ad valorem tax rate by dividing the property value by 100. Next, multiply this number by the actual property tax rate for the address to determine the amount of tax due for the first year at the property. It’s important to note that this amount may change over time as property taxes fluctuate, but it serves as a useful guide.

    The assessed value of a property is typically based on its most recent sale price. This value can increase by a maximum of 2% per year unless the property is purchased by a new owner. Many people choose to challenge their assessed value to reduce their tax burden, as accurate market values are crucial for tax calculations.

    When valuing a property, several important considerations come into play:

    1. Property type
    2. Unique features of the property
    3. Selling prices of similar properties in the area

    Appraisers examine recent sales activity of comparable properties, consider market trends, and assess the unique features of a home to determine its value. The final value is reached based on their professional judgment and expertise.

    Let’s explore an example: Suppose a single-family house on its own lot in Orinda is valued at $1.8 million, and the property tax rate for the address is 1.11%. The calculation would be as follows:

    • Divide the home’s value by 100 (1,800,000 ÷ 100 = 18,000)
    • Multiply the result by the property tax rate (18,000 x 1.11 = 19,980)

    Therefore, the annual property tax owed for this Orinda home would be $19,980.

    Are There Different Ways To Pay Orinda Property Taxes?

    It may sound unusual, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you receive your Orinda property tax bill and pay it on time. Non-receipt of your bill is not an acceptable excuse for failing to make timely payment.

    In Orinda, you will pay your property tax to the Contra Costa Treasurer-Tax Collector. You have several methods available for making your payment:

    • Pay by phone: This is a popular option. Simply call 925-608-9500 and follow the instructions provided by the automated voice response system to pay using an e-check, credit card, or debit card. The phone lines are open 24/7.
    • Pay online: Another popular choice is to access the online portal and make your payment using an e-check, debit card, or credit card.
    • Pay by mail: You can use the return envelope included in your property tax bill package to make your payment by check if you choose this option.
    • Pay in person: If you prefer to make a payment in person, you can visit the Finance Building in Martinez, CA. Walk-in hours are from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Payments can be made in cash or by credit/debit card using this method.

    Please note that making card payments online or over the phone incurs a service fee of 2.5%, with a minimum charge of $3.50. If you choose to pay by e-check and the payment is rejected, a check return fee of $85 will be applied.

    Choose the payment method that best suits your needs and ensure that you submit your payment by the deadline to avoid penalty charges.

    When Is Orinda Property Tax Due?

    Orinda property tax bills are typically mailed out between September and October. In some cases, your bill may not arrive until November. However, if you have not received your bill by November 10, it is advisable to contact the Tax Collector’s Office for an update. Property tax bills can be accessed online starting in October, but you will need your Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) to access them in this manner.

    Your annual property tax payment consists of two installments:

    • The first installment is due between November 1 and December 10.
    • The second installment must be paid between February 1 and April 10.

    If you prefer, you can make the entire payment within the first installment window.

    Failure to make your payment before the deadline will result in a penalty fee. It is important to plan ahead and, if you anticipate difficulties in meeting the deadline, you can request a property tax postponement. These postponements have limited availability and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, it is recommended to apply early if you believe you will require one. Please note that a property tax postponement only defers the due dates; the full amount will still be required to be paid in the end.

    What Happens If Payments Are Made Late?

    If you fail to pay your Orinda property tax bill before the deadline, you will be subject to a penalty fee.

    • For missing the first deadline, a 10% penalty will be added to the outstanding balance.
    • If you miss the second deadline, an additional 10% penalty will be imposed, along with a $20 administrative charge.

    These penalties are just the initial consequences. If you do not address your outstanding debt by June 30, you will enter a tax-defaulted status. From that point onward, you will incur monthly interest of 1.5% on your debt, which will be added on the first of each month until the amount is cleared. This situation can persist for a maximum of 5 years, at which point the tax authorities may seek to repossess your property.

    If you miss a deadline, it is crucial to find a way to pay your outstanding amount as soon as possible. One common solution is to utilize a redemption installment plan, allowing you to gradually repay your debt. The longer you delay in clearing the debt from your Orinda property tax, the more it will accumulate.

    White single-family home for Orinda property tax

    How Can Your Tax Burden Be Reduced?

    There are several potential options available to reduce your Orinda property tax liability:

    • Homeowner’s property tax exemption (more details in the next section).
    • Challenging the appraised market value of your property.
    • Applying for a special exemption.

    Challenging the assessed property value is a common practice among property owners. It involves submitting a request to the assessor, prompting them to conduct a Proposition 8 Review to evaluate the current value of your home for tax purposes. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you get a 60-day window to appeal between July 2 and November 30. It is important to pursue this route only if you believe you have a strong chance of success.

    Special exemptions are available to reduce the property tax burden for specific groups or individuals. To determine eligibility, you must meet the qualifying criteria. If you believe you may qualify, you can request an application form from the Assessor’s Office. Some of the special exemptions available include:

    • Proposition 19
    • Seniors exemption
    • Church exemption
    • Veterans exemption

    These exemptions have specific criteria in place to ensure they are awarded to the intended groups or individuals. While we can provide basic guidance on potential eligibility, the ultimate decision on applications is made by the Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office.

    What Is Homeowners Property Tax Exemption?

    Many Orinda property tax payers often choose to apply for the homeowners property tax exemption. This option is available to individuals who own a property in Orinda and use it as their primary residence. The purpose of this exemption is to reduce the appraised market value of your home by up to a maximum of $7,000. Consequently, it has the potential to lower your property tax in Orinda by $70 per year.

    It is important to note that this exemption is exclusively available to property owners who also occupy the property as their main residence. Landlords and tenants are not eligible to apply for this exemption. Typically, when you purchase a new home in Orinda, you will receive the necessary paperwork for the exemption. However, if you do not receive the forms, there is no need to panic; you can request them at any time.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Much Are Property Taxes In Orinda?

    The Orinda property tax rate currently averages 1.11%. There will be some variation between different locales so be sure to do your due diligence.

    How To Pay Orinda Property Taxes

    Payments for property tax bills can be made by cash, check, credit/debit card and several other methods. You pay the Treasurer-Tax Collector in person, online, over the phone or by mail.

    What Happens If You Make A Late Payment?

    When you miss a deadline, you incur a charge of 10% of the amount owed. If you become tax-defaulted, you incur further interest on your debt and could even face legal action.

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