Complete Guide to San Diego Property Taxes (2024-2025)

A San Diego home with property taxes

Following the state of California, the San Diego property tax rate remains at 1.25%. That includes a base rate of 1% plus voter-approved local assessments and bonds. 

This article covers the key payment aspects, including deadlines, methods of payment, and map tax clearance certificates. It also compares property taxes for homes at different price points. 

We included a detailed section on who can save on San Diego property taxes and how. This section includes numerous resources and helpful links. 

Then we break down the significance of Proposition 13 and Proposition 19, with a special word from Assessor Jordan Marks. 

Finally, there’s information on buying tax-defaulted properties and a general FAQ section.

Key Aspects of San Diego Property Taxes

  1. Tax Rate: The estimated property tax rate is 1.25%, reflecting the base 1% rate plus additional assessments for bonds and other voter-approved measures​.
  2. Deadlines:
    • The first installment of property taxes is due by November 1, and becomes delinquent after December 10.
    • The second installment is due by February 1, and becomes delinquent after April 11. 
    • July 1 is the final deadline to pay any remaining annual and supplemental tax bills.

Property owners are encouraged to pay their taxes online for convenience and security. More than 70% of taxpayers in San Diego County pay electronically due to the ease and immediate confirmation of payment.

For more information on property tax deadlines and payment methods, you can visit the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s website.

  1. Payment Methods: Property owners are encouraged to pay taxes online due to operational challenges at the County Administration Center caused by recent weather events. Payments can be made via e-check, which is free, or by credit card over the phone.
  2. Map Tax Clearance Certificates: These are required for certain property transactions and certify that there are no unpaid taxes or special assessments. The process involves estimating and bonding for any taxes that may become due based on property events like sales or new constructions​.
  3. Relief Measures: The county provides tax relief for properties damaged by natural events, and the IRS has extended tax deadlines for areas affected by severe storms, including San Diego County.

For further details, you can visit the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector​.

2024 San Diego Property Tax Comparison Chart

Home Price Annual Property Tax Monthly Property Tax
$400,000 $5,000 $416.67
$500,000 $6,250 $520.83
$600,000 $7,500 $625.00
$700,000 $8,750 $729.17
$800,000 $10,000 $833.33
$850,000 $10,625 $885.42
$900,000 $11,250 $937.50
$950,000 $11,875 $989.58
$995,000 $12,437 $1,036.46
$1,050,000 $13,125 $1,093.75
$1,100,000 $13,750 $1,145.83
$1,150,000 $14,375 $1,197.92
$1,200,000 $15,000 $1,250.00
$1,300,000 $16,250 $1,354.17
$1,400,000 $17,500 $1,458.33
$1,500,000 $18,750 $1,562.50
$2,000,000 $25,000 $2,083.33
$3,000,000 $37,500 $3,125.00
$5,000,000 $62,500 $5,208.33
$10,000,000 $125,000 $10,416.67
$15,000,000 $187,500 $15,625.00
$20,000,000 $250,000 $20,833.33


The Mello-Roos Tax

The Mello-Roos tax is a special property tax in California designed to finance public infrastructure and services in specific areas called Community Facilities Districts (CFDs). Here’s what you need to know:

What is Mello-Roos?

Introduced in 1982, the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act allows local governments to create CFDs and impose additional taxes on properties within these districts. The extra revenue is used to fund essential public services and infrastructure like schools, roads, parks, and emergency services.

How Much Is It?

For most homeowners, the additional Mello-Roos tax can be anywhere from $500 to $3,000 annually, but in some high-cost areas or districts with extensive infrastructure needs, it can exceed $5,000 per year.

How Does It Work?

Local agencies can establish a CFD with approval from two-thirds of the voters in the district. Properties within a CFD are then assessed an additional tax, which is added to their annual property tax bill. This tax can vary depending on the specific needs of the district and usually lasts for 20-40 years, or until the debt for the improvements is paid off.


San Diego Area Mello-Roos Tax Costs (By Neighborhood)

Here is a comparison table of typical Mello-Roos tax costs for different areas in San Diego. That said, it’s important to know that Mello-Roos taxes vary widely depending on many factors. 

Even two neighboring houses with similar values can have different tax rates. So take this comparison table with a grain of salt. Check out the video below for examples.

The best way to know about a particular listing is to ask a real estate agent, like our Team

Area Median Home Price Base Property Tax Rate  Est. Mello-Roos Tax Total Annual Property Tax
Downtown San Diego $850,000 $8,500 $2,000 $10,500
La Jolla $1,600,000 $16,000 $3,000 $19,000
Chula Vista $700,000 $7,000 $1,500 $8,500
Escondido $650,000 $6,500 $1,200 $7,700
Carlsbad $1,100,000 $11,000 $2,500 $13,500
Encinitas $1,250,000 $12,500 $2,800 $15,300
El Cajon $600,000 $6,000 $1,000 $7,000
San Marcos $700,000 $7,000 $1,500 $8,500
Oceanside $750,000 $7,500 $1,800 $9,300
Coronado $1,800,000 $18,000 $3,500 $21,500


Who Can Save on Property Taxes and How

In San Diego, as well as throughout California, several groups of homeowners can save on property taxes through specific programs and strategies. Here’s an overview:

1. Seniors, Disabled Homeowners, and Disaster Victims

Proposition 19 Benefits:

  • Eligibility: Homeowners over 55, those who are severely disabled, or those who have lost their homes to natural disasters.
  • How to Save: These eligible homeowners can transfer their current property tax base to a new home up to three times, ensuring they keep lower tax rates even if the new home is of higher value. This benefit allows them to move without facing a significant property tax increase.
  • Source: California State Board of Equalization.

2. Homeowners Using Primary Residence Exemption

Homeowners’ Exemption:

  • Eligibility: Owners of a primary residence.
  • How to Save: Homeowners can apply for a $7,000 exemption on the assessed value of their primary residence, reducing their annual property taxes by around $70.
  • Source: San Diego County Assessor’s Office.

3. Veterans and Surviving Spouses

Disabled Veterans’ Exemption:

  • Eligibility: Veterans with a 100% service-connected disability or their unmarried surviving spouses.
  • How to Save: Qualifying individuals can receive an exemption of up to $150,000 on the assessed value of their home. Low-income veterans may qualify for an increased exemption of up to $200,000.
  • Source: California Department of Veterans Affairs.

4. Low-Income Homeowners and Seniors

Property Tax Postponement Program:

  • Eligibility: Low-income seniors (62 or older), blind, or disabled homeowners with at least 40% equity in their home.
  • How to Save: This program allows eligible homeowners to defer their property tax payments, which helps manage cash flow and prevent delinquency.
  • Source: California State Controller’s Office.

5. Owners of Historical Properties

Mills Act Program:

  • Eligibility: Owners of qualified historical properties.
  • How to Save: The Mills Act provides a significant reduction in property taxes for owners who actively maintain and preserve their historic properties. The reduction is achieved through a negotiated contract between the property owner and the local government.
  • Source: California Office of Historic Preservation.

6. First-Time Homebuyers

Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program:

  • Eligibility: First-time homebuyers who meet income and purchase price requirements.
  • How to Save: The MCC program provides a federal tax credit of up to 20% of the mortgage interest paid during the year, reducing the overall cost of homeownership.
  • Source: San Diego Housing Commission.


Proposition 19 and Property Taxes

  1. Significant Tax Increases: Passed in 2020, Proposition 19 has led to substantial increases in property tax bills for some San Diegans, with reports of annual taxes rising from $1,600 to $10,000.
  2. Changes to Inheritance Rules: The new law limits property tax benefits on inherited properties, only allowing the original tax rate to be retained if the heir makes the inherited home their primary residence, with a cap on property value up to $1 million. That means restaurants and businesses can no longer be handed down while retaining the original property tax assessment.
  3. Tax Base Transfers: Homeowners over 55, those who are disabled, or victims of natural disasters can transfer their existing property tax base to a new home up to three times, maintaining their lower tax rate.
  4. Administrative Burden: Heirs must file the necessary paperwork with the county’s tax assessor’s office within a year of the family member’s death to keep the lower tax rate, adding complexity during an already challenging time. Keep in mind that you must choose which heir will make the home their primary residence and move in before filing this paperwork. 
  5. Proactive County Efforts: The San Diego County Assessor’s office is actively educating the public about the new rules through outreach efforts, including collaborating with mortuaries and launching the Navigating Loss Program to help families manage the process and avoid large tax increases.


“The 2023 tax roll shows that San Diego County is the gold standard in fairness, transparency, and putting taxpayers first based on a nearly 100% accuracy rating in our assessment practices from a State of California audit and 98.2% positive customer service rating.” – Assessor Jordan Marks 


Proposition 13 and Property Taxes

What is Proposition 13?

Proposition 13 is a California law passed in 1978 that significantly limits property tax increases. Here’s how it works:

  1. Tax Rate Cap: Property taxes are capped at 1% of the property’s assessed value at the time of purchase, plus any local voter-approved taxes.
  2. Assessment Limits: Assessed value increases are capped at 2% per year, regardless of actual market value changes.
  3. Reassessment Triggers: Properties are reassessed to market value only when sold or transferred, or when significant new construction occurs.

Benefits for Homebuyers

  • Predictable Taxes: Long-term homeowners benefit from predictable and stable property taxes, even as property values rise.
  • Initial Cost Control: New buyers get taxed based on the purchase price, not inflated market values.


“Thanks to Prop 13, no homeowner should lose their home due to unaffordable property taxes from the recent skyrocketing home prices. At the same time, governments will receive record high reliable funding for the eleventh straight year to deliver key services like schools and first responders.” – Assessor Jordan Marks 



Buying Tax-Defaulted Properties 

Check the San Diego County Tax-Treasurer Collector for upcoming online auctions. Residential properties go to auction after 5 years of tax default, while commercial properties default after 3 years.  

Be aware that it’s typical for the majority of properties to be timeshares. Of course, all properties are sold on an “as-is” basis. 

It’s also helpful to know that a $1000 advance deposit is required and that some liens may not be dischargeable. 

Check the link above, but it’s common for auctions to occur around mid-March, and you need to register beforehand. 


FAQs for San Diego Property Taxes 

1. What is Proposition 13?

California’s Proposition 13, passed in 1978, limits annual increases in assessed value to 2% for properties that haven’t changed ownership. However, when properties are sold, they are reassessed at current market value, often resulting in significantly higher property taxes for new buyers.

2. What is Proposition 19?

This law, passed in 2020, altered property tax rules, limiting tax benefits for inherited properties and potentially increasing taxes for properties not used as primary residences. It also allows eligible homeowners over 55 to transfer their tax base to a new home, up to three times

3. How can I pay my property taxes in San Diego?

Property taxes can be paid online through the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s website. Payments can also be made via e-check (which is free), or by credit card over the phone. Due to operational challenges at the County Administration Center, online payments are encouraged.

4. What happens if I miss a property tax payment deadline?

Missing a property tax payment deadline results in penalties. If the first installment is not paid by December 10, a 10% penalty is added. If the second installment is unpaid by April 11, a 10% penalty and a $10 cost fee are added.

5. Can I pay my property taxes in installments?

Yes, San Diego County offers payment plans for property taxes. These plans can help manage the payment of taxes in installments rather than a lump sum. Details about payment plans can be found on the County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s website.

6. What is a Map Tax Clearance Certificate?

A Map Tax Clearance Certificate is a document issued by the Tax Collector that certifies there are no liens for unpaid taxes or special assessments on a property. This certificate is often required for certain property transactions, such as the sale or transfer of ownership.

7. How do I obtain a Map Tax Clearance Certificate?

To obtain a Map Tax Clearance Certificate, a request should be submitted at least four weeks in advance. Most requests are completed within 2-3 weeks if all required documents are in order. The certificate must be filed with the County Recorder, and there is a fee for filing and obtaining copies.

8. Are there any relief measures for properties damaged by natural events?

Yes, San Diego County provides tax relief for properties damaged by natural events. Property owners affected by such events may be eligible for reassessment and tax relief. Additionally, the IRS has extended tax deadlines for areas affected by severe storms.

9. How is the assessed value of my property determined?

The assessed value of a property is determined based on its market value as of January 1 each year. Under Proposition 13, the assessed value cannot increase by more than 2% annually unless a reappraisable event occurs, such as a sale or new construction.

10. Where can I find more information about my property taxes?

More information about property taxes can be found on the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s website. This site provides details on payment options, deadlines, tax rates, and other related topics.


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