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. Please click on a panel header to expand FAQ's relating to respective subject.



Secured Property Taxes


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 $20 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?

There are two programs designed to assist qualified individuals pay their property taxes:
  • Property Tax Assistance for Senior Citizens, Blind, or Disabled Persons

    • The 2009/2010 state budget suspended funding for the Gonsalves-Deukmejian-Petris Senior Citizens Property Tax Assistance Law, which provides direct cash assistance. The Franchise Tax Board (FTP) will not issue Homeowner and Renter Assistance (HRA) Program instruction booklets and will not accept HRA claims for the 2010 claim year. For the most current information on the HRA Program, go to ftb.ca.gov and search for HRA
  • Property Tax Postponement for Senior Citizens, Blind, or Disabled Persons
    • On February 20, 2009, the Governor signed Chapter 4, Statutes of 2009, which immediately suspends the Senior Citizens’ Property Tax Deferral Program. This legislation prohibits the filing of claims for property tax postponement and prohibits the Controller for accepting claims filed after February 20, 2009. As a result of the program suspension, the controller will no longer accept claims from property tax postponement pending modification or repeal of this new law. For the most current information on the PTP program please visit sco.ca.gov

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

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

Unsecured Property Taxes


What are “unsecured” property taxes?

The term “unsecured” simply refers to property that can be relocated and is not real estate. The tax assessed against such things as business equipment, fixtures, boats, and airplanes. If the unsecured tax is not paid, a personal lien is filed against the owner, not the property.

When is the unsecured tax assessed?

The Assessor establishes the value of the unsecured property on January 1. This date is often referred to as the Tax Lien date.

How are the unsecured tax amounts determined?

The January 1 value is multiplied by the tax rate (usually 1% plus voter approved indebtedness). The unsecured tax rate is the prior year secured rate.

What period of time does an unsecured tax bill cover?

An unsecured tax bill covers a fiscal year. The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year.

If I sell my unsecured property before the fiscal year, am I still responsible for the unsecured tax?

Yes. Disposal of the property after the January 1 lien date does not eliminate your tax liability. If you sell the property before the unsecured tax bill is issued, make sure you collect an estimated amount for the unsecured tax from the buyer.

When should I expect my unsecured tax bill?

Most unsecured bills are mailed July 31. These bills must be paid on or before 5 p.m. on August 31. If the bill is mailed after July 31, the delinquent date is extended to the end of the month following the bill’s issuance. In other words, if your bill is mailed in September, the delinquent date would be October 31.

If I don’t pay on time, will I be charged a penalty?

Yes. If your payment is not received or postmarked by the delinquent date, a 10% penalty is added to your bill. If your bill remains unpaid for two additional months, a monthly penalty of 1½% begins to accrue. In addition, if a Certificate of Tax Lien is recorded, the account will be collected at the County Revenue & Reimbursement Department. Other fees may apply.

When should I mail my payment to avoid penalties?

You can mail your payment, but in order to avoid the delinquent penalties, your payment envelope must possess a United States Postal Service postmark on or before the tax delinquent date.

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.

If I don’t pay my unsecured tax bill, can the Tax Collector take my property?

Yes. California law allows the Tax Collector to seize and sell the unsecured property or any other personal property owned by the assessee including bank accounts.

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

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

Contact Information


What is the mailing address?

Merced County Tax Collector
2222 M Street
Merced, CA 95340-3780

Who should I call if I have questions?


Nature of Question Department Telephone
Values Assessor (209) 385-7631
Tax Rates Auditor/Controller (209) 385-7511
Tax Payments Tax Collector (209) 385-7592
Tax Bills Tax Collector (209) 385-7592
Tax Auctions (More Information Here) Tax Collector (209) 385-7592 Ext. 4351
Unsecured Collection Revenue & Reimbursement (209) 385-7413