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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions we often receive from Merced County property owners. For specific information, please call us at (209) 385-7592, visit our office, or e-mail us.

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What are "secured" property taxes?

The term "secured" simply means taxes that are assessed against real property (e.g., land or structures). The tax is a lien that is “secured” by the land/structure even though no document was officially recorded. This means that if the taxes remain unpaid after a period of five (5) years, the property may be sold to cover the taxes owed.

When is the secured tax assessed?

The Assessor establishes the value of property on January 1. This date is often referred to as the Tax Lien date. The secured property tax bill, issued months later, uses the value established on the tax lien date.

How are tax amounts determined?

The January 1 value established by the Assessor is multiplied by the tax rate (usually 1% plus voter approved indebtedness), then special assessments are added. These special assessments are added to the tax bill by local districts and cities, not by the Tax Collector. A sewer assessment is a typical special assessment that is added to a tax bill.

What period of time does a secured property tax bill cover?

A secured tax bill covers a “fiscal year.” The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year.

When should I expect my secured property tax bill?

Every year, the Tax Collector mails the secured tax bills by November 1. If you did not receive a bill, or if you recently purchased a property, you may obtain a duplicate tax bill by calling (209) 385-7592 or visiting our office.

When are secured property taxes due?

The secured property tax bill is payable in two installments:
  1. The first installment is due and payable on November 1. However, you have until 5 p.m. on December 10 to make your payment before a 10% penalty is added to your bill.
  2. The second installment is due and payable on February 1. The grace period on the second installment expires at 5 p.m. on April 10. If the installment remains unpaid as of April 10, a 10% penalty and $30 cost is imposed.

When should I mail my payment to avoid penalties?

You can mail your payment, but in order to avoid the delinquent penalty, your payment envelope must possess a United States Postal Service postmark on or before the tax delinquent date. Remember, the delinquent dates are as follows:
  • First installment delinquent at 5 p.m., December 10.
  • Second installment delinquent at 5 p.m., April 10.
If the delinquent date falls on a weekend or holiday, the penalty is not imposed until 5 p.m. on the next business day.

Is a private postage meter date the same as the United States Postal Service postmark?

No. California law requires the Tax Collector to accept the US postmark, not a private meter date, as the date of payment.

Can payments be postmarked on the deadline date?

Yes.

Are there any programs to assist me with paying my secured tax bill?

Property Tax Postponement (PTP)

On September 30, 2011, the Governor signed AB 1090, (Chapter 369, Statutes of 2011) which allows each county, if they wish, to implement a property tax postponement program for properties located in their county. The voluntary county-run property tax postponement program is effective January 1, 2012.

On September 28, 2014, the Governor signed AB 2231 (Statutes of 2014, Chapter 703) which reinstates the State Controller's Property Tax Postponement Program. This program will allow senior citizens and disabled persons with an annual household income of $35,500 or less to apply to defer payment of property taxes on their principal residence. Under this bill, applications may be filed with the State Controller beginning September 1, 2016. Information will be posted to the State Controller's website as it becomes available.

Can I pay my secured property tax bill with my credit card?

Yes. You can pay with your credit card on-line, or by telephone at 1-877-737-4829.