COVID-19 Property Tax Penalty Cancellation

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE MERCED COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR

REQUEST FOR PENALTY CANCELLATION – COVID-19 IMPACT

April 10, 2020

On March 26, 2020, under authority of California Health and Safety Code, the Merced County Department of Public Health ordered individuals to comply with the Stay at Home Order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom and the Merced County’s Health Officer. This has impaired the ability of some taxpayers to pay their taxes by the statutory deadline of April 10, 2020.

In response, the Merced County Tax Collector has issued a Request for Penalty Cancellation – COVID-19 Impact form permissible under the California Revenue and Taxation Code § 4985.2 (a) which grants the Tax Collector authority to cancel penalties if “Failure to make a timely payment is due to reasonable cause and circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control and occurred notwithstanding the exercise of ordinary care in the absence of willful neglect, ….”

Request for Penalty Cancellation - COVID-19 Impact (PDF)

We share the public’s concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope is that we all stay safe during these uncertain times.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Q: When is the Request for Penalty Cancellation – COVID-19 Impact form available?
    A: The form will be available online on the Merced Tax Collector website on April 15, 2020, in both fillable and printable form.

  2. Q: Who is qualified to use the Request form?
    A: Owners of properties for their primary residence whose delinquent taxes were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or their authorized representative are qualified to use the Request form.

  3. Q: What tax bill installments are covered by this Request form?
    A: Only those installments with delinquent dates on or between March 31 and April 30, 2020, will be considered for penalty cancellation using this Request form.

  4. Q: What type of supporting documentation does the Tax Collector’s Office require?
    A: You must provide documentation to support your claim. Please redact (strike-out) social security #s or confidential information.  Your claim will be denied for failure to provide adequate documentation.  Penalties incurred as a result of certain or preexisting financial conditions (e.g. bankruptcy) do not qualify for cancellation. Examples of supporting documentation include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • COVID-19 doctor note (isolation, quarantine, hospitalization)
    • Hospital release form indicating date of admission
    • Your employment notification letters related to COVID-19
    • CA EDD Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claim Letter
  5. Q: Am I required to make full payment when I submit the request form?
    A: Yes. You will be required to pay the base amount for taxes with a deadline date between March 31 and April 30. If you have 1st installment delinquent taxes, you must pay in full with penalties at the same time.  

  6. Q: When is the latest I can submit the Request form?
    A:  June 10, 2020, is the latest our office will accept the Request for Penalty Cancellation – COVID-19 Impact form.

  7. Q:  When will I know if the Tax Collector’s Office approved my Request?
    A:  Depending on the time and volume of requests, the Tax Collector’s Office may take up to four weeks to make a determination, especially if we are still under order to shelter-in-place and staff size is limited.

  8. Q:  What if the Tax Collector’s Office does not approve my Request, what happens then?
    A:  Your tax payment check will be returned to you, and you will be given a 10 working days to remit your payment in full, with penalty and fees. If the taxes are not settled by June 30, 2020, the property will become tax-defaulted and subject to the Tax Collector’s power of sale in five years.

If you have any other questions we have not addressed here, please email the Tax Collector at taxcollector@countyofmerced.com or call our office during regular hours 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday – Friday, except holidays, by telephone (209) 385-7592

Thank you!