posted Aug 3, 2012, 7:40 AM by JTCA Contact

If you are affected by the fire “fee”, beginning this month, the Board of Equalization will be sending out bills for the "Fire Prevention Fee" – to rural homeowners in areas where the state is responsible for fire protection. Michelle Steel the Vice Chair of the California State Board of Equalization has sent out the following information on steps that can be taken to object to the bill
Victoria Fuller

This new tax violates Proposition 26, which was passed by voters in 2010 and requires that any fee or tax that broadly benefits the public be passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. The fire "fee" was passed by only a simple majority. Just as bad, it will do nothing to increase fire-fighting services in California, but only provide educational and fire prevention services, at a time when state firefighting funds are being dramatically reduced.

Although the BOE is required to send the billings, it is not the agency in charge of administering this tax. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) is responsible for selecting the homeowners who are subject to the new tax and for processing appeals.

Nearly 827,000 homeowners in 31 million acres of State Responsibility Areas will receive bills between August and December. The bills, which will cost $150 with a $35 reduction for those who live in local fire service districts, will be sent alphabetically by county.

Before receiving a bill in the mail, homeowners will get a "pre-billing" notice to let them know that a bill is on its way.

Homeowners who receive fire tax bills and believe they have been billed in error must file timely petitions for redetermination with CalFire, or file timely claims for refund if they have paid the tax. Homeowners who believe the "Fire Prevention Fee" is unconstitutional must also file timely petitions for redetermination or claims for refund in order to preserve their rights and obtain adjudication of the constitutional issues.

CalFire has set up a website and phone number dedicated to this fee: (888) 310-6447, and Taxpayers can use this resource to find more information on the tax and for petitions for redetermination.

As always, I am honored to serve as your taxpayer advocate. If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours truly,
Michelle Steel
Vice Chair
California State Board of Equalization