Avoid Penalties by Understanding Postmarks

There has been a large increase in the number of individuals and entities that are now utilizing alternate methods of postage when sending items through the United States Postal Service. These newly introduced options include a large number of electronic postage printing options which offer a great deal of convenience for the consumer, but do not meet the requirements for proof of timely mailing of property tax payments, as prescribed by the California Revenue and Taxation Code.

In accordance with State law, property tax payments must be received or postmarked by the delinquency date to avoid penalties. If a payment is received after the delinquency date, with no postmark, the payment is considered late and penalties will be imposed. In the case of Secured Property Taxes, the 1st installment will be imposed a 10% penalty and the 2nd installment will be imposed a 10% penalty and a $10 cost. In the case of Unsecured Personal Property Taxes with only one installment due, the 10% penalty and $25.00 cost will be imposed.

Postmarks are imprints on letters, flats, and parcels that show the name of the United States Postal Service (USPS) office that accepted custody of the mail, along with the state, the zip code, and the date of mailing. The postmark is generally applied, either by machine or by hand, with cancellation bars to indicate that the postage cannot be reused.

Note: Taxpayers who send their payments by mail are cautioned that the USPS only postmarks certain mail depending on the type of postage used, and may not postmark mail on the same day deposited by a taxpayer.

Postage that is postmarked

  • Standard Postage Stamps Stamps purchased and affixed to mail as evidence of the payment of postage.

Postage that is NOT postmarked

  • Metered Mail Mail on which postage is printed directly on an envelope or label by a postage machine licensed by the USPS. Many private companies use these types of postage machines.
  • Pre-canceled Stamp Stamps sold through a private vendor, such as stamps.com ®.
  • Automated Postal Center (ATC) Stamps Stamps, with or without a date, purchased from machines located within a USPS lobby.
  • Permit Imprint Pre-sorted mail used by bill pay services, such as online home banking.

If you use these types of postage, the USPS will not postmark your mail. You will be charged the statutory penalty and cost, when applicable, if we do not receive your mailed payment by the delinquency date.

There are other options available from the United States Postal Service. You can contact a post office near you for more information on these options which include the following:

Purchase and complete a Certificate of Mailing from the USPS, which is a receipt that provides evidence of the date that your mail was presented to the USPS for mailing. It can only be purchased at the time of mailing through the USPS. The USPS charges a fee for this service.

As an alternative to mailed payments, electronic payment options are available through our 3rd party vendor. Fees apply. Please select the Pay Taxes Online option from our web page for details and applicable fee information.