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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118236
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Last week I recieved a letter from Contra Costa County in

Customer Question

Last week I recieved a letter from Contra Costa County in Calif. for owing $19,700 back taxes on a boat that I bought in 1987 and abandoned in the boatyard in 1988. The boat was $1100 and the boatyard then sold it for $800. They were a licsensed and reputable company for many years, however they went out of business over 10 years ago. Contra Costa County says I am not protected by the statue of limitations. It has been 28 years since I surrendered title to the boat to the boatyard for hauling and storage. It was a 1949 Welin Davit lifeboat worth its wirght in scrap metal. Contra Costa says they can waive $16,000 penalty and I will only owe them $3,700. only if I pay before July 30th 2016. I have never recieved any kind of tax bill from them before. I wrote to them and talked to them on the phone. Please *****@******.***
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I am afraid there is no statute of limitations for not filing taxes. So if you did not file and did not pay taxes even 28 years ago, they can continue to seek to collect. While they can waive penalties, they cannot waive interest. Unfortunately, the CA law allows them to charge you for those taxes but the good news is that if you can prove the date of sale you can file a written appeal with proof of the date of sale and the party it was sold to (so you need to do some investigation if you want to save some money on what you owe) and then with that proof they can reduce the taxes you owe.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I read online that the Calif. State Board of Equalization has set the statute of limitations to 8 years for unsecured taxes on personal property. Contra Costa says it is 10 years but they can renew the lien 2x so it is 30 years. what I read states that they do not send a tax bill, it is the owners responsibility to report it. The bot***** *****ne is what are other people paying in the way of luxury tax on their boats? Contra Costa says the amount is calculated by the value of the boat and not by its length. So they say it was assessed at $100, do they come up with this figure? They are criminals, the boat was a hunk of junk, and a guy could get a real nice boat in those days for about $2500. I called the assessor and left a message but no reply as of today. Bruce
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

Contra Costa is correct for you not filing the taxes they have 10 years and it is your responsibility to have reported it when you purchased it. They assess value based on the book value of your boat at time you purchased it. You can appeal the value of the boat by getting documentation showing the boat was not worth what it was assessed at, that is your burden of proof.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe in paying my taxes but lets come up with a reasonable figure not $19,700 on a $1200 rusty old lifeboat. I will be happy to pay the proper amount. I cannot prove the dates because the owner of Lee's Boatyard of Walnut Grove Ca. is deceased for about 8 years.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

You will have to prove at least that the value of the boat was nowhere near what it is assessed and also as you stated above they will likely remove the penalties from the amount due, but you will have to pay something I am afraid.