San Diego property taxes and additional local taxes help pay for vital county services, but the property tax system can be confusing to new homeowners. Understanding tax rates, assessed value, and how to make a property tax payment are essential considerations to ensure that you remain in compliance with local regulations, and we’ll explain each of these factors today.  

The Basics of Property Taxes in San Diego

Property taxes are a percentage of your home’s assessed value paid directly to San Diego County rather than the state. The assessor’s office updates a property’s assessed value every time it changes rightful owners, but in the meantime, the taxable value is adjusted every year based on inflation. 

State law requires that these tax increases be limited to inflation based on the California Consumer Price Index or with an increase of no more than 2%, whichever is less.

The amount you pay is based on the base rate, along with whatever supplemental tax increases that California voters and San Diegans agree to pass, such as special assessments and voter-approved bonds. These might be for new construction of schools, park maintenance, or additional social services. Thankfully, there are limits to how much property owners can pay.

San Diego County Property Tax Rates

The current property tax rate in San Diego is 1.23% for the 2024 fiscal year. Although this may seem high, it is actually lower than the state tax average of 1.58%.

San Diego Parcel Taxes

In California, parcel taxes are considered qualified special taxes. They are not based on assessed values but on characteristics of the property itself. For example, a parcel tax rate may be different for commercial and residential properties, as well as for developed and undeveloped land. Square footage, acreage, and number of units are common ways to assess parcel taxes.

Parcel taxes are voted on by property owners and, while they can be used for anything, they are typically used for construction or school spending. As an example, in November 2024, taxpayers will vote on a new San Diego parcel tax for storm abatement and flood damage prevention measures following the devastating floods in January 2024. 

What Is Mello-Roos?

Mello-Roos, also known as Community Facilities Districts, are unique to the California tax code. Established as state law in 1982, these special districts can impose parcel taxes for public needs, such as sewer systems, schools, streets, electricity, and parks. 

Mello-Roos districts were created to circumvent Proposition 13, which pins tax rates to the assessed value, and ensures that communities have their funding needs met when inflation outpaces property value growth. Voters decide when and where to form a Mello-Roos district and then determine their own calculations upon which to base their tax bills on property owners.

Is There a Difference Between Residential and Commercial Property Tax?

Both businesses and homeowners need to pay property tax, but the process is slightly different for businesses — their property tax is assessed more frequently, and they often have to worry about an unsecured tax bill as well. 

Unlike homeowners, who will get a supplemental assessment when a property changes hands, business owners must work with the county assessor every year. The assessor will send out a property statement to business owners that tallies all their business property, such as facilities and land. 

There is also the facet of unsecured tax bills. Land and homes are secured property, meaning that they can’t be moved. Unsecured property includes things such as boats, heavy machinery, and mobile homes, but it also includes business personal property, like building fixtures and office equipment. 

Some homeowners will also need to worry about an unsecured tax if they have luxury items like yachts or private airplanes, but it is more commonly a concern for business owners. Regardless, the rates for secured property and unsecured property are the same for both businesses and residents. 

The Role of Property Tax Assessors

Three government agencies are involved in collecting property taxes, with the tax assessor as the “front line” in the property tax process.

The county assessor identifies the market value of the property once it changes ownership, which is called a supplemental assessment. The new assessed value is provided to the county auditor to be submitted to the county tax roll. 

Next, the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office sends bills. If you bought a house halfway through the year, your bill will be prorated based on the time of occupancy. 

When the tax collector’s office receives the payments, the San Diego County Administration Center distributes the funds to other agencies, such as the school district and public works department. 

How Is Property Tax Calculated in San Diego?

The process starts when an assessor ascertains the assessed value of a property. This can be done three ways: by the sales price adjusted for inflation, by the cost of replacing the property with a new construction, or by the income of the property if you rented it out. The sales price option is the preferred choice. 

Once the assessed value is determined, it’s time to add up all the different taxes that are part of your bill. Property taxes are calculated using what is called mill levy. One mill is equivalent to $1 per $1,000. 

Each levy for the tax jurisdiction will be added together to get a full mill levy rate. This is then multiplied by the assessed value of the property to create your property tax bill. Here is the San Diego Property Tax Formula for the full year:

Full Year Assessed Value x 0.0123

If you did not live in the home the full year, then your taxes will be prorated depending on how many months you actually lived in it. 

For example, let’s say that you bought your home for $560,000 in December for the fiscal year in question, with six months remaining in the year that closes on June 30th. The inflation on the consumer price index has been high this year, so the assessor decided to raise the assessed value by 2%, the lower of the two inflation options. This means that your property’s assessed value for a full year is $571,200.

Now, we need the prorated assessed value. This is done by dividing how many months you spent in the home by 12, then multiplying the full value by this. Since you lived there for six months, you’d multiply $571,200 by 0.5 to get $285,600.

With this value in hand, it’s time to multiply by the property tax rate, which is 0.0123. Your property tax bill comes out to $3,511.68. The other half of the bill will be paid by the previous owners for the time that they owed the property.

When Are Property Taxes Due in San Diego?

For property taxes, you can pay in two installments, which have two separate deadlines. Secured property tax bills are sent out at the end of September, and the first installment is due by November 1st. 

You have until the delinquent date, December 10th to pay, and you will be charged a 10% penalty on any payments made after this date. If you still don’t pay by January 1st, there will be a tax lien put on your home until you pay.

The second installment of the secured taxes comes due on February 1st, but the delinquency date is not until April 10th. As with the first deadline, any payments after the second installment deadline will have a 10% penalty, in addition to an extra $10.

In May, delinquent notices are sent out. Should you not pay by the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1st, your account will be transferred to the defaulted tax roll, and there will be a 1.5% additional penalty per month of unpaid taxes, plus a $33 redemption fee.

So, to review, the timeline is:

  • End of September – Tax bills sent out
  • November 1st – First installment due
  • December 10th – Deadline for first payment
  • January – If the first payment is still unmade, a tax lien is placed on the home
  • February 1st – Second installment due
  • April 10th – Deadline for second payment
  • May – Delinquent account notices
  • June – Beginning of next business year
  • July 1st – Taxes are now in default and additional penalties are levied

When Do I Receive a Property Tax Bill?

You will receive your tax bill in late September or early October, and you can pay it in one or two installments according to the deadlines above. 

The office accepts cash payments at their Santee branch, or you can pay via e-check through their online payment system. There is a service charge if you want to use a credit card.

How to Pay Less Property Tax in San Diego

With high property taxes, many San Diego County residents seek ways to reduce their tax burden. Thankfully, exemptions can ease the sticker shock you receive in September. 

Property Tax Exemptions in San Diego

To reduce your property tax payment, look carefully for exemptions that may fit your specific circumstances. The current exemptions in San Diego County include:

  • Homeowners – You can claim an exemption that reduces the assessed value of your primary home by $7,000.
  • Disabled Veterans – Veterans who are classed as 100% disabled, or the surviving unmarried spouse of a qualifying veteran, can receive a $169,769 on their property value for a primary residence. Those making less than $76,235 can claim a $254,656 exemption. This is the most advantageous of the exemptions and should be claimed instead of a homeowner’s or veteran’s exemption.
  • Veterans – This is specific for those who have no more than $5,000 in personal assets ($10,000 for couples) and allows an exemption of $4,000. 

Does Refinancing a Mortgage Affect Your Property Tax Bills?

Thankfully, refinancing a mortgage will not change your property tax bill. A property tax rate is influenced by assessed values, inflation, and any tax increases approved by taxpayers.

Whether it’s your primary residence or vacation home, you can rest easy knowing that a refinance won’t trigger supplemental assessments. Get in touch with us to learn more about our loan programs and what documents you will need to get started. We’re happy to answer questions and guide you through the process every step of the way. 

Impact of Propositions on Property Tax in San Diego

Propositions play a critical role in California’s tax code, typically in helping to keep taxes low notwithstanding inflation. The most critical ones for homeowners are Propositions 13, 60, 90, and 19. 

In 1978, Proposition 13 became California law. This proposition limits property taxes to 1% of the value, but voter-approved bonds can boost your annual tax bill above this rate. 

There are also Propositions 60 and 90. Prop 60 allows people to keep their tax rate according to a base year value—i.e., the time they purchased their property—when moving within San Diego County. 

Proposition 90 allows for inter-county transfers of rates for ten California counties, which include Alameda, Riverside, San Mateo, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernadino, Santa Clara, Orange, San Diego, and Tuolumne. 

Proposition 19, passed in 2020, allows those above 55 to keep their current tax rate when they sell their current home and buy a new one of equal or lesser value. This means that you will not have to get a new assessed value: the base rate will be the year you purchased the original property, with additional costs due to inflation. 

However, this only works if you sell your current property before buying the replacement property, so you must pay close attention to the transaction dates.  

You can also keep your loved one’s tax rate if they pass away, you inherit the house, and then begin living in it full-time. However, it will be reassessed if you choose to sell it or rent it out instead.


Deciphering your property tax bill may seem complicated, but it is quite simple — your property taxes are determined by its original value, adjusted for inflation and multiplied by the current tax rate. This rate may include special taxes imposed by San Diego or by your Mell-Roos district, which are called parcel taxes.

You need to pay property taxes twice a year, but there are exemptions for certain groups, and propositions can help ease the burden for specific members of the population. These laws also help keep taxes from rising exorbitantly, ensuring everyone can afford to live in this beautiful city.

If you’re ready to talk about buying or refinancing a home, contact a loan officer at F5 Mortgage today. We are here to answer questions and help you on your path to home ownership.

San Diego Property Tax FAQs

What is the current property tax rate in San Diego?

The current property tax rate is 1.23%. While it may seem high, it is actually lower than the state average of 1.58%. The value on which the property tax rate is applied is determined by the San Diego County Tax Assessor.

How much is the property tax on a $300,000 house in California?

In San Diego, the property tax for a house assessed at $300,000 would be $3,690 based on the current rate. The tax bill can be reduced if the owner qualifies for Property Tax Exemptions.

How do I find out if my payment was received?

You can use the online bill payment portal at the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector office to view your bill and check whether the payment was completed. You can also call their office at (877) 829-4732 or email to confirm the payment. 

Is my property tax information confidential?

No, property taxes are not confidential. These are a matter of public record and can be reviewed at the public research center of the County Administration Center. The records also allow others to see property ownership, parcel information, and liens on a property.

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