Penalty Cancellation Request Process
COVID-19 Related Penalty Waiver Requests
If you were unable to pay a property tax bill with due dates beginning March 31, 2020, or later and were directly impacted either financially or physically by the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible to apply for a waiver or penalties.
We understand and share the public’s anxiety and concern about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nevada County Tax Collector’s Office has a long history of working with taxpayers in times of emergency and disaster, including the recent public safety power shut-offs, wildfires, and floods. The best way to provide relief for the situation's beyond taxpayer control is to provide penalty waivers to taxpayers who have been directly impacted by these unprecedented circumstances. The current Revenue & Taxation Code does not allow waivers that are the result of financial hardship. Because of this, the Governor has issued an Executive Order that lawfully allows tax collectors around the State to do so in light of COVID-19 if you meet the following qualifications.
COVID-19 Penalty Waiver Qualifications
- The property for which taxes were not paid is either:
- a. residential real property occupied by the taxpayer, or
- b. real property owned and operated by a taxpayer that qualifies as a small business under the Small Business Administration’s Regulation's Code of Federal Regulations, Title 13, section 121.201;
- The taxes owed on the property in question were not delinquent prior to March 4, 2020;
- The taxpayer timely files a claim for relief in a form and manner prescribed by the tax collector; and
- The taxpayer demonstrates to the satisfaction of the tax collector that the taxpayer has suffered economic hardship, or was otherwise unable to tender payment of taxes in a timely fashion, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19.
Submit a COVID-19 Penalty Waiver Request
If you qualify under any of the above, you can submit a request for a penalty waiver. If approved for the waiver, all taxes must be paid by June 30, 2021, to avoid penalties and interest from attaching to the taxes owed. Please feel free to contact our office for further assistance. You can also review the COVID-19 Penalty Waiver FAQs.
- COVID-19 Penalty waiver online process. Documentation can be attached through the online process. Payment of taxes will need to be sent via the US Mail, put in our Dropbox, or you can pay online. If paying online, please wait for the penalty waiver determination to avoid pre-paying penalties.
- COVID-19 Penalty Waiver printable form. Click on the link to download the form and send it by mail with documentation and payment to Nevada County Tax Collector, PO Box 128 Nevada City, CA 95959.
Those that are impacted for an extended period of time should contact this office after June 30, 2021, to inquire about an installment plan.
All Other Penalty Waiver Requests
The California Revenue and Taxation Code (R&TC) grants the Treasurer and Tax Collector the authority to cancel penalties in limited circumstances. Below are examples of requests that the Tax Collector will deny if submitted for penalty cancellation review.
1. Requests that the Tax Collector consider the taxpayer's payment history. The Tax Collector will deny a request to cancel a penalty based on a taxpayer's request to consider the taxpayer's positive payment history. The R&TC does not grant the Tax Collector the authority to consider a taxpayer's payment history, whether positive or negative, in determining whether or not to cancel a penalty.
2. Requests related to home banking or online bill payments. The Tax Collector will deny a request to cancel a penalty related to a home banking or online bill payment that a taxpayer initiated prior to the delinquency date, which the Tax Collector received after the delinquency date. The reason for this is that the United States Postal Service does not postmark the envelopes used to remit payments from home banking and online bill payment services. In the absence of a postmark, the Tax Collector only considers the received date in determining if the payment is late and if the penalty applies. The Tax Collector recommends to taxpayers that they not use this service for the reason stated above. Finally, some banks provide disclosure on their online bill pay websites urging users not to use the service when making federal, state, or local tax payments of any kind.
3. Requests related to the use of a postage meter date on a payment envelope. The Tax Collector will deny a request to cancel a penalty based on the payment envelope containing a postage meter date that is the delinquency date or a date prior to the delinquency date. The R&TC states that the remittance (payment) will be deemed received on the date shown by the United States Postal Service (USPS) cancellation mark stamped on the envelope. A postage meter is a mailing system, distinct from the mailing systems of the USPS, typically used by private businesses that print postage directly on the envelope. A postage meter date is not a cancellation postmark the USPS stamps on an envelope. A postage meter date only indicates that the proper postage was paid; it does not provide evidence when someone deposits an item for mailing with the USPS.
4. Requests related to a taxpayer assertion that the taxpayer mailed the payment prior to the delinquency date with sufficient time for the United States Postal Service to deliver the payment prior to the delinquency date. The Tax Collector will deny a request to cancel a penalty based on an assertion that the taxpayer mailed the payment “early enough” to allow the United States Postal Service sufficient time to deliver the payment prior to the delinquency date. The reason for this is that the R&TC states that the remittance will be deemed received on the date shown by the post office cancellation mark stamped on the envelope.
5. Requests related to the financial circumstances of the taxpayer, which prevented the taxpayer from paying the amount due prior to the delinquency date. The Tax Collector will deny a request to cancel a penalty based on the financial circumstances of a taxpayer, which prevented the taxpayer from paying the amount due prior to the delinquency date. Under the R&TC, there is no provision to cancel penalties due to financial circumstances that prevented a timely payment.
6. Requests related to the non-receipt of a property tax bill. The Tax Collector will deny a request to cancel a penalty based on the non-receipt of a property tax bill. Under the R&TC, there is no provision to cancel penalties imposed for failure to receive a tax bill.
7. Requests related to new homeownership and not understanding the property tax process. The Tax Collector will deny a request to cancel a penalty based on a taxpayer not understanding the property tax process. The reason for this is that most real estate transactions occur through an escrow process where property tax information is provided.
All Other Penalty Waiver Qualifications
Having read the information provided above, I believe that my request for penalty cancellation does not fall into any of the scenarios above and will qualify under one of the Revenue & Taxation Codes listed below.
R&TC, Section 2512- Proof the United States Postal Service took custody of the payment on or before the delinquency date.
R&TC, Section 4911- Payment was made to an incorrect property by mistake.
R&TC, Section 4985- An error expressly made by the tax collector, the auditor, or the assessor.
R&TC, Section 4985.2- Circumstances beyond the taxpayer's control, and occurred notwithstanding the exercise of ordinary care in the absence of willful neglect. Examples that may qualify:
- a. Specific medical conditions causing unexpected hospitalization on the delinquency date.
- b. Natural Disasters (e.g. Wildfires).
- c. Lost in the mail. Please include a copy of the check register showing when the check was written, bank statements showing checks clearing before and after suspect check, and a stop payment placed on the check.
- d. Death of the Property Owner of Record on or before the delinquency date.
- e. Government Declared State of Emergency.
Submit a Penalty Waiver Request
Instructions for Completing the Penalty Cancellation Request Form:
Step 1: Select the California Revenue & Taxation Code Section that you believe allows the Tax Collector to cancel the penalties imposed.
Step 2: Complete the form. Must include Assessment # and contact information. Add a brief description of the nature of your request for penalty cancellation.
Step 3: Read and consent to the acknowledgment that the documents you submit constitute a public record under the California Public Records Act. After submitting the Penalty Cancellation Request, you will receive an email confirmation. If supporting documentation is required, you will receive an email from the Tax Collector's office with instructions on what is needed to substantiate your request.