The Assessor's Office is responsible for the annual assessed valuation of all real and business personal property within Santa Clara County. Each year the professional staff of the County Assessor's Office provides accurate assessments of all secured and unsecured property. The assessment roll, which includes more than 500,000 roll units of real property and business assessments, is the basis upon which property taxes are levied.
Property taxes, in turn, provide an essential source of revenue to support basic public services provided by schools and local governments, which serve as the basic foundation of our region's quality of life.
The Assessor has the responsibility to locate all taxable property in the County, identify ownership, establish a value for all property subject to local property taxation, list the value of all property on the assessment roll, and apply all legal exemptions.
Contrary to popular opinion the Santa Clara County Assessor does not compute property tax bills, collect property taxes, establish property tax laws, set rules by which property is appraised, or set property tax rates.
The Assessment Roll
The assessment roll is divided into the secured roll (property subject to a lien) and the unsecured roll (property on which the property taxes are not a lien against the real estate where they are situated, including personal property or improvements located on leased land).
Exemption values are identified as homeowner exemptions (reimbursable by the State), or other exemptions allowed by law, including churches, welfare institutions, colleges, hospitals, charitable properties (not reimbursed by the State).
Improvements (the value of buildings or structures existing on the land), as shown below, reflect improvement values assessed by the Real Property Division, and improvements assessed by the Business Division.
Assessment Roll Growth
Assessment roll growth is a result of several major components.
"Real property," is reassessed to reflect the fair market value only when there is a change in ownership or new construction. Assessed values generally reflects the cyclical Silicon Valley economy. The increase in assessed values of individual properties reflect the net difference between the prior assessed value and the new value resulting from the change in ownership or new construction. Assessments established as a result of new construction reflect the value added by the new construction.
The transfer of properties with assessed values established years ago, when property values were significantly lower, is one of the primary reasons for the record growth in assessed values experienced this year. Because Proposition 13 limits any increase in assessed value to no more than 2% annually, unless the property transfers ownership or is subject to new construction, the value of the assessment roll is significantly less than the fair market value of all property in Santa Clara County.
Business personal property including computers, machinery, equipment and fixtures is assessed annually. Assessed values are calculated from business property statements filed each year by almost 55,000 local businesses in Silicon Valley.