Watercraft & General Aircraft


California law requires an annual assessment for property taxes on all watercraft (vessels) and general aircraft based on the location and value of the property on January 1 of each year. The owner, possessor, or controller of the property is required to file an annual Property Statement with the San Bernardino County Assessor. If the property has an aggregate cost greater than $100,000, or the Assessor requests them to file a property statement, a 10% penalty will be added to the assessed value for failure to file a timely property statement.

The purpose of the property statement is to provide the Assessor with information regarding the property which will aid in making a fair market value assessment for property taxes.

The Assessor receives information on the ownership and location of the property from the State Board of Equalization, DMV, Federal Aviation Administration, US Coast Guard, Airport Operators, and receives referrals from other counties and states.

Since boats and aircraft are personal property and mobile, they may have various locations throughout the year. The assessment location may be determined to be the site where they are regularly or routinely located or the principal place of the owner, possessor, or controller of the property. For more information go to the Board of Equalization website www.boe.ca.gov/, Forms and Publications, Property Taxes, Assessor Handbook, AH577 Assessment of General Aircraft and AH576 Assessment of Vessels.

Only property held as inventory for sale by a licensed dealer is exempt from property taxes. If the property is used by the dealer for personal use it would not qualify for the exemption. Property consigned to a broker will be assessed property taxes.

If the property is sold, has a change in ownership, is destroyed, or permanently removed from the county, PRIOR to January 1, the Assessor should be notified to prevent any additional assessments and/or to be sure the assessment is made to the correct owner. DMV and the FAA have change in ownership reporting requirements. Notify these agencies when there is a change in ownership as soon as possible.

I sold this property years ago. Why are you still sending me tax bills?

The Assessor’s Office does not send out tax bills. The bill will come from the Tax Collector for one of two reasons. Either we failed to update our records after a deed transferring real property was recorded, or the property was transferred by means other than a recorded deed and no notification was sent to the Assessor’s office. Personal property (including boats, aircraft, manufactured homes, and business property) is typically not transferred by a deed, so it is imperative that you notify the Assessor as soon as possible after selling it. The same is true for real property transactions in which a deed is not recorded until the buyer has paid the seller in full and/or satisfied any other conditions of the sale.