BY DONNA WESTFALL
Did you know that if you own a business you can expect an unsecured tax bill? Unsecured taxes can also be charged on boats, vessels, airplanes, luxury items, and farm equipment.
The amount is 1% of the assets. If you go to the Del Norte County Assessors office, you may be told two things.
1. That there is a $5,000 automatic assumption of assets if the owner of the business does not itemize their assets, so expect the minimum tax of $50.00, or;
2. List your business assets (or personal assets) and then calculate 1% as the amount the Del Norte County Tax Collector will expect.
However, let say you own several businesses and use the same assets (example: desk, chair, computer, printer) for all of your businesses. The Assessors office does not expect you to pay a tax on those assets multiple times. They only expect to count them one time on one business.
Now, this tax is in addition to a fee for a business license issued by the City of Crescent City; although if you are a veteran and start a business then the city waives the business license fee.
Having been a business owner for more than 40 years of multiple businesses in various cities and counties in Southern California and Central Washington, only in Del Norte County can we ever remember receiveng an Unsecured Property Tax Bill. According to the State Comptroller’s Office, “Unsecured property tax is an ad-valorem (value based) property tax that is the liability of the person or entity assessed. The assessment of unsecured property taxes against an individual constitutes a personal lien against the owner of record, not a lien against the property.”
What is the process to calculate assets?
Example a new $500 copy machine will be assessed $5 for this year and less next year due to depreciation. If you purchase your desk chair for $20 at a yard sale, you have to report it. That’s $2. If you’re desk cost $200, that’s another $2.00. Add in computers and it all adds up. Let’s say it all totals $50.
Then you pay the tax collector $50 for the year. But, if it is less than $50, itemize all your business assets by year of purchase and amount of purchase and take in a signed statement to the Assessor’s office for an evaluation.
Once the Assessor’s office completes their evaluation, they will send it to the Auditor’s office. Once the Auditor’s office completes their evaluation, they send it on to the Tax Collector’s office. If the amount is less than the $50 you paid, you’ll get a refund. If you are a contractor, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to list all your tools. equipment and machinery. Isn’t that fun?
What happens if you don’t pay your unsecured taxes?
Then you will be hit with penalties, tax collector fees, recording fees and all costs of collection. Seizure action against your assets such as vehicles, wages, bank accounts and state income tax refunds may be taken.
So, be aware of unsecured taxes while contemplating Measure F – the additional 1/4% sales tax to help save the Fair (should be the Fairgrounds). Aren’t we taxed enough already?