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Walnut Creek Property Tax Explained

Property owners in Walnut Creek have to pay property tax. These are calculated as a percentage of the overall property value and bills come out annually. You need to prepare for this, so we have compiled this guide to help you understand Walnut Creek property tax.

3d tax icon on a colorful background and text that reads Walnut Creek property tax
Renée White

May 12, 2023
Table of content

    How Much Are Property Taxes In Walnut Creek ?

    Average property tax in Walnut Creek falls close to the rest of Contra Costa County: 1.11%. Property taxes in different areas of the city might be higher or lower than this range, so be sure to check the exact rate for the address you are looking at.

    Property tax in Contra Costa is calculated around the 1% base rate dictated by the state of California. Property tax rates cannot exceed that, except where there are special/direct assessments in place that require a higher tax rate to cover. Local authorities calculate the property tax rate for different neighborhoods based on factors like:

    • Average real estate values
    • Median income levels
    • Budgets for local funding needs that apply to property tax revenues

    Government entities always aim for fairness when setting property tax rates and there are ways to lower your liability – more on that later.

    The average property tax rate in Walnut Creek is close to the average for Contra Costa and for California at large. But property tax rates here are actually lower than the average for the United States. One possible explanation for this is that real estate values around Contra Costa are relatively high, so government there doesn’t require a high percentage of property tax to collect the amount of funding needed for local projects. This is a generalization, of course – the specific details for each area vary quite substantially.

    Property tax rates in Walnut Creek are consistent over the years. There is a general trend of increasing real estate values, but it is a slow one compared to some other cities in Contra Costa. Nevertheless, real estate values in Walnut Creek are strong as it is a desirable place to live and demand is high.

    How To Calculate Property Taxes In Walnut Creek ?

    You can easily calculate the amount you would pay in Walnut Creek property tax. But first, you need to know two pieces of information:

    • The property tax rate at the address
    • The assessed market value of the property

    Once you know these pieces of information, the calculation is not complicated. The first step is to divide the value of the home by 100 to get the ad valorem tax rate of 1%. The answer can then be multiplied by the actual property tax rate to learn the amount of property tax you would owe in the year. It’s important to bear in mind that this number would change over time, but it is a good starting point for you.

    As this process illustrates, the assessed value of a property is a very important factor. It is usually based on the most recent sale price of the property, and can change by no more than 2% each year (unless there is construction or a change of ownership at the property). An accurate market value is important for tax purposes. It is also quite common for people to challenge their assessed market value in an attempt to lower their tax liability.

    There are two main considerations when carrying out property appraisals:

    • What is the property type and what unique features does it have?
    • What prices are similar properties in the area selling for?

    During an appraisal, the assessor will analyze the values of comparable properties in the neighborhood. They will also carefully consider the impact of specific features on a property’s value – think swimming pools and extensions. With all this information, they will use their expertise to arrive at a fair market value for tax purposes.

    Let’s present an example. You live in a 4-bedroom house that has a recent extension on the ground floor to improve the kitchen. Based on this, and comparison with similar homes in the area, the value is set at $750,000. Now, let’s say the property tax in the area is 1.11%. The calculation for property tax would look like this:

    1. Divide the property value by 100 (750,000 ÷ 100 = 7,500)
    2. Multiply the answer by the property tax rate (7,500 x 1.11 = 8,325)
    3. The annual property tax due would be $8,325

    How To Pay Your Walnut Creek Property Taxes?

    If you won property in Walnut Creek, it is your responsibility to pay your property tax bill on time. It is also your responsibility to ensure you have received your bill – if it doesn’t arrive, this is not a valid excuse for not paying. You must actively seek out your bill if you don’t get it in the mail.

    In Walnut Creek, property tax is paid to the Contra Costa Treasurer-Tax Collector. Payments can be made in person if you choose – you would need to visit the Finance Building in Martinez, CA. They accept walk-ins Monday through Friday between 8:00 and 17:00.

    There are other ways to pay your Walnut Creek property tax as well:

    • Pay by mail – when you receive your property tax bill, there will be a return envelope in the pack. This is for sending a check to make the payment. Instructions for doing this are also in the pack.
    • Pay by phone – the number to call is 925-608-9500. You will have to follow the directions from an interactive voice response system. The line is open 24/7 and payments are accepted via e-check or credit/debit card (service fees apply).
    • Pay online – payments via the online portal can be made by e-check, credit or debit card. Again, service fees apply for card payments.

    The right payment option is the one that works for you. The bottom line is that you must pay what you owe by the deadlines in order to avoid penalties.

    With regards to payments by credit/debit card the service fee is 2.5% with a minimum charge of $3.50. You should also be aware that an $85 returned check fee applies to any e-check that is declined or rejected for any other reason.

    Walnut Creek Property Tax Due Dates

    Walnut Creek property tax bills are mailed out through September-October. You should receive yours in one of these months, though it may arrive in November. If you haven’t received yours by November 10, you should chase it up with the Tax Collector’s Office. Bills can be found online from October – you will need your Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN).

    Annual property tax is paid in two installments, with a separate due date and deadline for each:

    • The first installment is due on November 1. Payment must be made by December 10, after which it is considered delinquent.
    • The second installment is due on February 1. The deadline is April 10.
    • Both installments can be paid by December 10 if you prefer to get it done in one go.

    By paying your bills on time, you avoid penalty charges. If you know you don’t have the funds to pay on time, you have the option of applying for a property tax postponement. This defers the payment dates, but you will still have to pay what you owe eventually. There is limited availability for postponements so contact the Tax Office as soon as possible.

    What Happens If Your Payment Is Late?

    Failure to pay either or both of your installments by the deadline will result in penalty fees.

    • If the first deadline passes without payment, you will have 10% added to the balance owed.
    • If the second deadline passes without payment, another 10% penalty will be added to the outstanding balance. There will also be a $20 administrative charge.

    These are the initial penalty payments. If you get to June 30 and still have not paid what you owe, you become tax-defaulted and will incur interest on the outstanding balance. The rate of interest is 1.5%, and it will be added on the first of each month. This can go on for a maximum of 5 years, at which point additional powers are granted. Tax authorities can repossess your property and sell it to recoup what you owe in tax.

    If you have a late payment issue, the best resolution is to pay it off at your earliest opportunity. There is an option for setting up a redemption installment plan to enable you to pay off your debt gradually. Remember, the more time that passess without payment, the larger your debt will become. The best course of action is always to make the tax payments before the deadlines.

    How To Lower Your Tax Liability?

    You have a couple of options for reducing your Walnut Creek property tax liability. They are as follows:

    • Homeowners property tax exemption (more in the next section)
    • Apply for a special exemption
    • Challenge the assessor’s fair market value appraisal

    Your route to apply for an exemption is to contact the Assessor’s Office. The purpose of exemptions is to reduce the tax burden for certain groups or individuals. Exemptions you can apply for include:

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

    You have to meet the criteria for these exemptions and they are very specific. More information is available if you contact the Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office and ask for it. If you think you meet the criteria, ask for an application form. It is up to the assessor to decide whether or not you qualify.

    The other approach for reducing your tax liability is to challenge the assessed property value. This starts by taking it up with the assessor and asking them to review. They will evaluate the existing value for tax purposes against current market value – this is what’s called a Proposition 8 Review. If you are still unsatisfied, you have 60 days to appeal against the assessment. Appeals must take place between July 2nd and November 30th. Only do this if you are confident that you have a case as it may end up costing you more money otherwise.

    What Is Homeowners Property Tax Exemption?

    The Walnut Creek homeowners property tax exemption is one more option for you to explore when trying to reduce your property tax liability. If you own your property and live in it as your main residence, you likely qualify for this exemption. The goal of it is to take a certain amount off the assessed value of your property – up to $7,000 – in order to reduce your tax liability by up to $70.

    This exemption is all about owner-occupiers of homes in Walnut Creek. It does not apply to landlords. The paperwork is usually sent out to households when they purchase a new home. It can also be requested at a later date.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Much Are Property Taxes In Walnut Creek ?

    The average property tax rate in Walnut Creek is 1.11% at present. This varies from one area to the next so check the exact rate for the address you are looking at.

    How To Pay Your Walnut Creek Property Taxes

    Property tax can be paid in person, by mail, by phone or online to the Treasurer-Tax Collector. Payments can be made in cash, by check or by credit/debit card.

    What Happens If Your Payment Is Late?

    If you miss a deadline for payment, you will incur a penalty of 10% added to the amount you owe. Penalties get more severe the longer the debt is outstanding and you can face legal action.

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