Written by Jon Long on September 12th, 2022
Residents of Orange County California are tuned into the not-so-secret value inherent in owning property in one of the best parts of the country. Some might say that living here is too expensive, especially Orange County property tax, but "If you know, you know." If you've experienced Orange County, you know what makes Orange County great.
Everyone wants to live in a wonderful place. Everyone also wants to pay the lowest amount of taxes possible. And so, we're all caught in a paradox in that the more beautiful places, located near desirable amenities, are usually more valuable and thus generate a higher property tax bill. Property taxes support the communities' roads, schools, and services, helping attract new residents and maintain the value of properties.
We want to help navigate these paradoxes and take a deep look at home values and property taxes in Orange County CA. How much are homes worth, and how high are property taxes? Are the higher taxes worth it? How much do higher property taxes wind up affecting communities for the better? How can communities strike the right balance of making property taxes affordable while maintaining community standards?
The last few years have tested every citizen, business, and government entity to their limit. The upheavals in how we work, how our children are educated, and the shared responsibilities for protecting public health have all demonstrated how much we rely on each other.
Residents of Orange County have chosen this place for many different reasons. Most find the benefits available here to be worth the cost. The value of our investments in both the properties and the communities is solid.
How is the revenue from Orange County real estate taxes spent? First, let's look at the breakdown in more detail.
Supporting schools is a vital choice. Obviously, many residents want to support the schools of Orange County with their property tax dollars because they want their own children to be well-educated. But even non-parents see the value of putting their money into schools. Educating people will help the future to be brighter for everyone.
Orange County Department of Education spends $69,910 per student each year. It has an annual revenue of $312,103,000. Overall, the district spends $11,011.9 million on instruction, $21,366.7 million on support services, and $197.6 million on other expenses.
The cities of Orange County California provide services to citizens that are vital to helping businesses function. They also ensure the health and safety of citizens. Police departments, fire, and emergency services help with public safety. All county residents also need other services like road maintenance, flood protection, wastewater treatment, drinking water, trash disposal, parks and recreation, recycling, and other utilities.
Orange County also provides services that are mandated by the State of California. These include foster care, elections, criminal justice, public health care, and jails.
Orange County libraries don't just provide good reading. Internet access at public libraries is vital for those who don't have online access at home. Books and books on tape can be mailed to library patrons who are home-bound. In addition, our libraries provide information about voting and citizenship and provide places for free artistic events like poetry readings. Many free children's activities are found at county libraries, especially important in the summer.
The Orange County libraries also help preserve our history with the OC Memory Lab, which provides a space for "free do-it-yourself digitization." Library patrons can preserve documents and photos by creating digital records. People need to pass on their memories, and this is also an excellent way for Orange County to protect its history.
Libraries are a great example of services that may not seem to be absolutely necessary for survival, but they are essential to sustaining the culture of our communities.
Orange County property taxes also support the special districts of the area. These are locally controlled public agencies that fulfill a myriad of needs that localities haven't been able to reach. For example, in Orange County, special agencies have worked in support of cemetery maintenance, libraries, parks and recreation, sanitary, sewer, and water services, stormwater protection, and mosquito control.
The boards of special districts are elected by the communities' voters and so have local accountability. They are required to submit annual reports to the State Controller.
With such a high demand for homes and prices rising, it's essential to protect affordable housing options. Redevelopment trust funds are a way to make sure housing is an option for all the citizens of Orange County.
Across Orange County, the median home value is $652,900. Real estate is hot in markets across the country, and Orange County real estate is no exception.
The Covid 19 pandemic changed things at a fundamental level. People stayed home to work en masse for the first time in modern history, driving a need for homes with more space and greater versatility. There was a low inventory of available homes at a time of unprecedented demand.
The natural result of this unprecedented situation is that real estate prices went up. At the same time, the median value of homes for sale in Orange County landed at $652,900 in 2021. The median amount of property taxes paid per year was $4,499.
The average property tax rate is 1.074%. All Orange County secured properties have a Basic Levy Rate of 1%. After that 1% Basic Levy, it can vary from city to city due to various bonds that your city or neighborhood may be subject to, like school bonds, emergency services, and other special assessments.
A tax assessor will figure out the market value of your property. Market conditions and local budgets fluctuate, of course, affecting the amount you may owe. Other factors could be proximity to well-ranked schools, interest rates, and inflation rates.
You can appeal the assessment of your property if you feel it's been done incorrectly. You'll need to furnish evidence of why you think the tax value has been assessed too high. Getting help from an appraiser or an Ardent Real Estate Group Agent is a good idea.
Orange County receives over $7 billion in property taxes each year.
You can pay your Orange County property taxes online at tax.ocgov.com. You will need to enter your home address or tax default number. Paying online is secure and will keep your information safe. There is no fee if you pay electronically by check, but there is a fee when paying with a credit or debit card.
You can also pay your property taxes at the tax collector's office in Santa Ana.
The first installment of your property taxes is due on November 1st and will be delinquent after December 10th.
The second installment is due February 1st and is delinquent after April 10th. A good way to remember is with the phrase "No Darn Fooling Around."
If you pay after those dates, a 10% penalty is added, plus another charge of $23 per bill. After July 1, other penalties will be applied.
If you don't pay your property taxes, you could receive a tax lien on the property.
Before things get to that point, the county will send you a notice regarding their intent to enforce the debt collection.
In a worst-case scenario, you could be sued or your home could be taken and auctioned off in a tax sale.
When your property taxes are due, you might feel pinched. Some would argue that the property taxes in Orange County are among the highest in the country. Others might even say you're crazy to want to own real estate in Orange County.
But when you think about everything Orange County California offers, you'd be crazy not to want to be here. There are many reasons tourism is such a strong draw - even visiting Orange County is well worth it.
Orange County offers a rich culture that is becoming stronger and more diverse every year. The economy is powerful, with the lowest unemployment in the state. The oldest neighborhoods in North Orange County provide history and a cultural center. The central part of the county has excellent resources for finance, consulting, and real estate. The south lays claim to hills, coastline, and access to the Santa Ana mountains, while the beaches of the Orange Coast contain a strong draw for tourism. Do we need to mention the weather?
The area's educational resources will always be something to brag about - excellent schools, friendly and supportive districts, and fine options for higher education.
Further depth is provided by museums and art festivals, biking trails, options for fun nightlife, and diverse and delicious cuisine. News outlets are supported by excellent journalism in Orange County, helping citizens stay informed and involved.
Orange County is one of the safest places in California. Paying property taxes in Orange County might not be fun. Still, it supports services that protect our citizens, maintain vital infrastructure, safe roads, and clean drinking water.
Someone might ask why in the world you would want to pay such a high price to live in Orange County? But those who know could ask why you'd like to live anywhere else.