It’s tax time

The Santa Clara County Assessor’s Annual Report answers the No. 1 question at this time of year: Where do my taxes go?
This year’s report contains a special focus that looks back over the past 10 years of assessment roll information, and includes graphical illustrations that capture Silicon Valley’s unprecedented economic boom.
For example, during the past year, the annual assessment roll topped $516 billion, a 6.79 percent increase over the prior year. Remarkably during the past 10 years, the assessment roll grew 70 percent, more than any time since the hyperinflation period in the early 1980s. The budgets of local government all benefited from nine consecutive years of economic growth.
Property sales and new construction were principal contributors to assessment roll growth this year. Just over 60 percent of the $32.9 billion increase in assessments was attributable to re-assessable changes in ownership. An additional $5.8 billion came from new construction and business property, i.e. machinery, equipment, computers and fixtures. The assessed values of all other properties increased by 2 percent as mandated by Proposition 13.
Assessment roll growth is also due to mega office and commercial property developments, and major property acquisitions by iconic tech companies, including Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Adobe and Nvidia.
The major beneficiaries of property tax revenue are public schools (44 percent), community colleges (7 percent), cities (13 percent), special districts (6 percent) and Redevelopment Trust Fund (12 percent) and the county (18 percent). On average over 50 percent of local property tax revenue generated in Santa Clara County goes to fund public education. The amount allocated from property taxes can vary significantly; for example, the estimated total allocated to the Santa Clara Unified School District is 38 percent, while the total amount for Morgan Hill Unified is 45 percent and for Gilroy Unified is 48 percent.
Shortly after I was elected assessor in 1994, we began publishing this report to answer this question and much more. Ever since then, our annual report has been a “go to” resource for public finance officials, academics, tax experts and real estate professionals, as well as for business, government and community leaders interested in real estate market trends and property values in Santa Clara County.
To pay your taxes and avoid the lines you can pay taxes online; eCheck payments are free and easy to complete online at http://www.sccassessor.org/optin or use the county’s mobile app at http://ow.ly/RrMfwZyWP. To view how your property taxes are divvied up, visit payments.sccgov.org/propertytax/TaxAllocation.
For residents interested in diving into the assessor’s data, the report provides extensive assessment roll information about each of the county’s 15 cities, as well as every school district. In addition, the report provides a list of major new construction projects and change in ownership transactions of high-profile properties. Finally, the report provides a comparison of Santa Clara County’s assessment roll data to other Bay Area and major California counties.
To download and print the current or prior years’ reports, visit sccassessor.org/index.php/forms-and-publications/annual-report.

Larry Stone is Santa Clara County assessor.

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