Alameda County Treasurer-Tax Collector Henry C. Levy released publicly Monday the policies and procedures by which his office will be processing requests to waive penalties and interest related to delinquent property tax payments caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
The second installment of property taxes for the 2019-20 fiscal year was due last Friday (April 10), but many residents throughout the county have been impacted physically and financially by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting shelter-in-place order.
Levy announced earlier this month that his office would be implementing a program to allow coronavirus-impacted property owners to receive some financial relief during the pandemic by removing tax delinquency penalties and other associated costs for those who could not pay on time.
He released specifics about those policies and procedures, including the waiver request application, on Monday morning.
"(My) will consider applications for waivers of penalties, interest and costs for delinquent taxes if the reason for delinquent payment is due to demonstrated COVID-19 related circumstances such as health or financial hardship to the taxpayer, and that the failure to pay was due to circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control," Levy said.
California property taxes are due in two installments during the fiscal year.
This year, the final day to pay the second installment without accruing a delinquency penalty was April 10. Many local county tax collectors, and their California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors, said they had no ability to change the deadline, arguing the sole power to move the date lies with the State Legislature, which took up no such action.
But two Bay Area counties -- San Francisco and San Mateo -- opted for their own work-around to delay the actual due date until after the shelter order is lifted, via a provision in state law that allows the deadline to be pushed out if the county tax collector's office is closed by action of the Board of Supervisors. The San Francisco Chronicle was first to report those counties' moves.
Alameda County took no such action. Although the Tax Collector's Office locations in Oakland and Hayward have been closed to the public amid the shelter order, the department has remained open for employees to conduct regular staff work, including processing payments.
Levy announced on April 1 that he would be devising a program for impacted residents to request a waiver of delinquency penalties.
In detailing the new program Monday, the Tax Collector's Office also posted the policy and instructions, as well as the application form, on its website.
First off, the delinquency must be due to coronavirus-related circumstances beyond taxpayer's control, according to Levy.
"All taxpayers will be required to provide documentation of the COVID-19 related reason. Examples of such documentation are in the policy found online. Taxpayers will be required to sign under penalty of perjury," he said.
To qualify, a taxpayer must have already paid their first installment of 2019-20.
Levy's office will review waiver penalty requests on a case-by-case basis, beginning on Monday. "Taxpayers must make full payment of their taxes before the application for waiver will be reviewed," he said. "Qualified waiver requests will not be processed until payments are made."
This process will remain in effect until May 4 -- the current expiration date for Alameda County's shelter order -- and new policies will be announced in the future, according to Levy.
To learn more, visit the Tax Collector's Office website or call 510-272-6800.