By Joe Harn
CPA, El Dorado County Auditor-Controller
The Cal Fire Fee bills are scheduled to be mailed to El Dorado County property owners this month. This bill should be addressed to the owner of record as of July 1, 2013.
Below is pertinent information for those who receive a bill:
If one or more of the circumstances is true, file a timely appeal with the State Fire Prevention Fee Service Center:
The 2013-14 bills are $152.33 per habitable structure. If your property is located within the boundary of a local agency that provides fire protection, the bill should include a $35 discount per habitable structure. Per the State Board of Equalization, on average, 97 percent of bills statewide have the $35 discount. To see if your property is within the boundary of a local agency that provides fire protection, go to edcgov.us/Assessor. Click the “On Line Property Information” link and enter your APN. If this confirms that your property should have received the discount, file a timely appeal with the Fire Prevention Fee Service Center. If no local agency providing fire protection is listed at the Assessor’s website, contact the local agency you believe provides fire protection.
AB 2510 and SB 1327 have been introduced to require the state to provide a full refund to all individuals who paid a tax later declared unconstitutional or illegal, should the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Class Action lawsuit prevail. This is potential legislation and should not be relied upon to guarantee a refund. Filing an appeal with the Fire Prevention Fee Service Center is the only way to guarantee a refund, presuming the HJTA’s lawsuit prevails.
In addition, write “Paid in Protest” on the bill and the check, as it may provide some benefit.
Your appeal to the State Fire Prevention Fee Service Center must be made within 30 days of the date on your bill. Do not mail your appeal and your payment together. Make sure you follow the directions for each item. If you appeal, you will receive a notice with the decision within 60 days. Paying the fee does not, in any way, affect consideration of your appeal. If your protest is denied and you have not paid the bill, the penalty and interest are applied.
Make copies for your own records.
Visit firepreventionfee.org, the official Cal Fire website, to obtain a protest form and other information.
State Board of Equalization member George Runner, who is opposed to the State Fire Prevention Fee, has information available on calfirefee.com. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has information, including the lawsuit, at firetaxprotest.org.
If you do not have access to the Internet, contact the El Dorado County Auditor-Controller for assistance. The office is located at 360 Fair Lane in Placerville and office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and the phone number is (530) 621-5456.