Fire Prevention Fee – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)Open All Close All
Will the CDTFA continue to administer and collect the Fire Prevention Fee program even though the fee has been suspended?
The passage of AB 398 did not change the application of the fee for any period between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2017. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), formerly the Board of Equalization (BOE), will continue to accept payments for unpaid billings for all prior fee periods (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2017). If you remit payments for past due amounts, the payments will be applied to your account balance.
The Fire Prevention Fee is an annual fee for fire prevention services that owners of habitable structures in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) are required by law to pay. Owners of habitable structures are those of record in the county tax assessor rolls or in the records of the Department of Housing and Community Development, on July 1st of the state fiscal year for which the fee is due.
A habitable structure is a building containing one or more dwelling units or that can be occupied for residential use, including single family homes, multi-dwelling structures (for example, apartment buildings), mobile homes, manufactured homes, and condominiums. Habitable structures do not include commercial, industrial or incidental buildings such as detached garages, barns, outdoor sanitation facilities, and sheds
The SRA is the area of the state where the State of California is financially responsible for the prevention and suppression of wildfires. The SRA does not include lands within incorporated city boundaries or federally owned land. You can see if your property is in the SRA by looking up your address here CAL FIRE – Fire Prevention Fee SRA Parcel Map.
Beginning January 1, 2015, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection may exempt your structure from the fire prevention fee if your habitable structure is deemed uninhabitable as a result of a natural disaster. Beginning with fiscal year 2014-15, if a property owner received a bill for the Fire Prevention Fee, and the habitable structure is no longer habitable due to a natural disaster that occurred on or after July 1, 2014, the property owner may apply for an exemption from paying the fee. The fee exemption applies to the fiscal year the natural disaster occurred and in any subsequent year if the habitable structure has not been repaired or rebuilt.
In order for a structure to be considered for the exemption, the owner of the habitable structure must:
- Certify that the structure is not habitable as a result of a natural disaster, and
- Document that the structure passed a defensible space inspection conducted by CAL FIRE or its agents within one year of the date the structure was damaged or destroyed, or
- Certify that clearance as required under Public Resources Code section 4291 was in place at the time that the structure was damaged or destroyed as a result of a natural disaster.
To request a natural disaster exemption, you must submit your request to CAL FIRE. The form and mailing instructions can be found at http://www.fire.ca.gov/firepreventionfee/sra_NDE.
As of January 1, 2016, the law provides that you may negotiate as one of the terms of the sale, apportionment of the fee. However, you remain responsible for payment of the total fee if you owned the habitable structure as of July 1st of the year for which the fee is due. For information regarding this change, please see the fire fee billing insert included with your bill.
The fee applies to all habitable structures within the SRA. It does not apply to habitable structures located on land within city boundaries or owned by the federal government. It also does not apply to non-habitable structures located in the SRA boundary. For information on the natural disaster exemption, please see the question above.
Each year, CAL FIRE provides the CDTFA, formerly the BOE, with a list of owners of habitable structures located in the SRA and the amount of fee(s) to be assessed. The CDTFA then issues the bills and collects the fees. Due to the passage of AB 398, no fee billings will be issued after June 30, 2017.
The BOE (now CDTFA) mailed approximately 10,000 billings each business day that began in March 2017 through June 2017, in alphabetical order by county, starting with Alameda, Alpine, etc., until all of the billings identified by CAL FIRE for the fiscal year 2016-17 were issued. The mailing schedule is located on the CDTFA's website.
No fee billings will be issued after June 30, 2017. Unpaid billings for prior fiscal year periods 2011-12 through 2016-17, are still due and payable. Payments remitted for past due amounts will be applied to your account balance.
The fee is due 30 days from the date shown on your bill. Payments must be postmarked by the due date to be considered timely. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or state holiday, payments postmarked or received by the next business day will be considered timely.
Yes. Unpaid billings for prior fiscal year periods 2011-12 through 2016-17, are still owed. Feepayers who are late in paying a previous year's fee are still responsible for paying their overdue bills with penalties and interest as applicable.
Will I get a refund for past fiscal years because the fire fee has been suspended due to the passage of AB 398?
No. The change as a result of AB 398 takes effect July 1, 2017. All fees assessed for previous periods still remain in effect and are due and payable.
The CDTFA does not offer advice in regard to tax deductibility of fees, interest or penalty paid. Generally, fees are not deductible for either state or federal income tax purposes, unless it is an ordinary and necessary expense of a business. For specific guidance regarding whether a fee or other charge is deductible, please consult with an income tax professional or the income tax agency for guidance.