CALIFORNIA – The State Board of Equalization has begun mailing bills for the 2012-2013 fire prevention fee, due and payable by property owners in State Responsibity Areas (SRA).
The amount of the fee has not changed since last year, at $150 per habitable structure, with a $35 credit per habitable structure for parcels located within the jurisdiction of a local fire protection district.
As before, bills are being mailed county by county in alphabetical order, at the rate of 10,000 per day. Madera County residents are scheduled to have their bills postmarked Aug. 19 and 20.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has brought a class action lawsuit against the State challenging the fire prevention fee, claiming that it is an illegal tax requiring a two-thirds majority of the Legislature. As this lawsuit works its way through the courts, however, it is important that you pay your bill on time. Failure to pay the fee can result in heavy penalties and a lien on your property.
HJTA’s class action lawsuit seeks refunds for all Californians, however, refunds may be limited to persons who filed a timely Petition for Redetermination. On July 19, HJTA argued their case in a California Superior Court, urging the judge to rule that if the State acted illegally in enacting what they say is an illegal tax, it should not be rewarded by getting to keep the money of over 800,000 Californians affected.
In his decision, the judge ruled that if the case is ultimately decided in favor of HJTA, taxpayers will only be able to receive refunds if they filed a timely appeal with CalFire.
The necessary form and attachment, and instructions for completing and mailing it, can be found on HJTA’s special website, FireTaxProtest.org.
Appeals (Petitions for Redetermination) must be filed with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or its representative within 30 days from the date of the original notice of determination. If a petition is sent by mail, it will be accepted if the post mark is within 30 days.
HJTA states that if you filed a Petition for Redetermination when you paid your last bill, and received a denial that was not based on the Petition being late, then it is not necessary to file again. If, however, you filed your Petition late, or have never filed one, then it is important to file a Petition for Redetermination when you pay your 2012-2013 bill.
Cal Fire conducted a focused review of SRAs in early 2013, so the status of your property may have changed. To be sure you understand the requirements and deadlines, visit this website for a list of Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.firepreventionfee.org/sra_faqs.php