Fresno County assessor encourages legal property tax relief during coronavirus outbreak

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County's assessor is pushing for some relief on property taxes for people affected by COVID-19.

County supervisors and auditor Oscar Garcia announced last week that state law prevents them from changing the April 10 due date for the next property tax installment.

But assessor Paul Dictos pointed out an executive order from the governor could allow them to take steps to provide financial relief, and existing state law also seems to allow temporary forgiveness.

"That's what I like about this governor," Dictos told Action News. "He took the bull by the horns and he says, you know, 'Give them relief.' Now it's up to the board of supervisors."

San Luis Obispo County announced last week it would waive any late fees or interest, essentially postponing the necessary payments without any penalty, for people who don't pay property taxes on time and can show it was because of the coronavirus.

Dictos says Fresno County should follow their lead.

A letter to the governor from the California Association of Counties, the League of California Cities, the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors, and others urges Gov. Newsom to not take any further steps to give property owners property tax relief.

They say every California county already has the ability to waive penalties and interest, so they could all do it without an order from the governor.

It reads, in part:

"California's local agencies are working diligently to maintain essential services and infrastructure during this unprecedented public health emergency related to the Coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Our organizations, representing all levels of local government in the state, are urging you to retain the April 10 deadline for property tax payments and allow local officials to forgive penalties for property owners who are unable to pay by that date due to the pandemic, as authorized by law."
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