County of San Diego

ASSESSOR | RECORDER | COUNTY CLERK

Ernest J. Dronenburg, Jr.

Institutional Property Tax Exemptions


Institutional Property Tax Exemptions are available for real and personal property used for religious, hospital, scientific, or charitable purposes.

The property must be owned and operated by funds, foundations, or corporations organized and operated for charitable purposes.  These exemptions require annual filings. 

Under State Law, property used for fund-raising purposes is not qualified for exemption.

Institutional Property Tax Exemptions

Church Exemption

This exemption may be used by religious organizations for either owned or leased real or personal property. The exemption applies only to areas used exclusively for worship or parking. The exemption does not apply to areas used for fellowship or other non-worship activities. The Church Exemption is most often used for leased real property. Religious organizations that own real property most commonly file the Religious or Welfare Exemption claims because of their broader scope of exemption.​

Religious Exemption

This exemption is available to religious organizations for real property they own, as well as owned or leased personal property. The exemption extends to property used for worship, fellowship, religious counseling, offices, parking, and schools grades 12 and under. Once claimed, the exemption remains on the property until the status of the organization or use of the property changes. The Assessor’s Office annually sends an exemption renewal statement which the organization returns verifying that the use and ownership of the property have not changed.​

Welfare Exemption

This exemption is available to religious, hospital, scientific, or charitable organizations, including low-income housing limited partnerships. It may only be used for owned real or personal property. The following information must be submitted when filing a claim:

The Assessor and State Board of Equalization jointly administer this exemption and both parties must grant the exemption.

Low Income Housing Exemption

Housing for low-income tenants may be exempt if owned by a non-profit organization or a limited partnership with a non-profit as managing general partner.

Properties may qualify if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • The property is financed with tax-exempt revenue bonds, general obligation bonds, or is financed by local, state, or federal loans or grants. Rents may not exceed the deed restriction or regulatory agreement limits.
  • The owner of the property receives low-income housing tax credits.
  • Properties owned by non-profit organizations are occupied by tenants, 90% or more of which qualify as low-income households.

Low-income housing exemption requires filing the Welfare Exemption.​

Housing for Religious Personnel Exemption

Housing for religious personnel may be exempt if the housing is owned by the religious organization. Only housing incidental to the primary exempt activity of the organization is eligible. Housing for religious personnel requires filing the Welfare Exemption.

Public School Exemption

This exemption is used by public schools, including charter schools. Public schools most often use the exemption for leased real and personal property. The property may be used for a variety of purposes, including education, administration, and administrative support functions. Charter schools must submit a copy of the charter when applying for this exemption.​

College Exemption

The College Exemption is available to private four-year colleges and may be used for owned or leased real and personal property.

Cemetery Exemption

The Cemetery Exemption is available to both non-profit and for-profit cemeteries. Restrictions exist regarding the exemption of for-profit cemetery property. For further information, please contact the Assessor’s Office at (619) 531-5763. ​

Lessor’s Exemption

The Lessor’s Exemption is available to property owners who lease real property to free public libraries, free museums, public schools, community colleges, State colleges, State universities, University of California, Churches, and non-profit colleges. Both the owner of the property and the exempt organization are required to sign the claim. The benefit of the exemption must go to the exempt organization in the form of a rent reduction or direct refund, unless otherwise stated in the lease. A copy of the lease is required to be submitted with the first claim.​

By Mail:

Please submit your completed claim to the following address:

ERNEST J. DRONENBURG, JR., ASSESSOR
Institutional Exemption Section
1600 Pacific Highway, Room 103
San Diego, CA 92101
 

In Person:

You are welcome to drop off the completed claim at any of our available office locations linked below.

For assistance with completing a form, you are welcome to visit our San Diego Assessor Main Office:

County Administration Center
1600 Pacific Highway, Suite 103
San Diego, CA 92101

Appointments are encouraged for this service, but not required. 

Schedule up to 1 week in advance. 

Select Assessor, then Exemptions (i.e. Homeowners, Disabled Veterans', Institutional).

Claim forms are available on the Forms tab, or by calling the Exemption Section at (619) 531-5763.​