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Boats / Aircrafts


Boat Assessment

Boats are taxable and are appraised annually at current market value as of January 1. Values are determined by reviewing purchase prices, sales of comparable boats and other market data. Information on their location and ownership is obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the United States Coast Guard, marina listings and on-site inspections.


San Joaquin County currently assesses approximately 10,000 boats.


Aircraft Assessment

Aircraft are taxable and are appraised annually at current market value as of January 1. Values are determined by reviewing purchase prices, sales of comparable aircraft and other market data. Information on their location and ownership is obtained from the State Board of Equalization, Federal Aviation Administration, airport listings, and on-site inspections.


San Joaquin County currently assesses approximately 400 aircraft.


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Boat / Watercraft Property Tax Questions and Answers

Boats / Aircraft:
  • Q: My boat is registered with the DMV and I pay a registration fee. Why must I also pay property taxes?

    A: Property taxes for boats are not collected through the registration fee, as they are with motor vehicles. Though it may seem like you are being double-taxed, that is not the case.

  • Q: Do I have to fill out the Vessel/Watercraft Owners’ Report the Assessor sent me if I sold my boat?

    A: Yes. The Assessor needs to know: 1) the date it was sold, and 2) who purchased the boat. This is to ensure the correct owner is assessed for the correct year.

  • Q: Must I pay property taxes if my vessel is documented?

    A: Yes. The law does not differentiate between vessels registered with the DMV and those documented with the Coast Guard.

  • Q: How does the Assessor determine the value of my vessel/watercraft?

    A: The Assessor uses various approaches to arrive at the value, including the purchase price of the vessel/watercraft, improvements or upgrades that have been made to it, and the recent sales of comparable vessels in the open market.

  • Q: My vessel/watercraft is docked in another county. Why did San Joaquin County assess it?

    A: If the vessel/watercraft is registered to you in San Joaquin County and the registration does not specify that it is docked in another county, then San Joaquin County will assess it. If your boat is habitually docked in another county, we will cancel the assessment and also notify the county in which your vessel is located.

  • Q: My documented vessel is in Mexico. Why is it still being assessed in San Joaquin County?

    A: A documented vessel is assessed at the ‘place of documentation’ unless it is kept elsewhere and notice of this fact has been sent to the Assessor of the county in which it is documented. Temporary absences of a few months duration would not affect the situs of the vessel.

  • Q: I received a tax bill for a boat I sold months ago. Why?

    A: Liability for vessel property taxes attaches to its owner as of 12:01 a.m. on January 1 each year (lien date). The bill for the coming tax year is then issued to the owner of record at that time, and that individual is liable for the taxes even if the boat was sold soon after that date. The Assessor does not prorate the assessments.

  • Q: My spouse and I were divorced and he or she got the boat as part of the settlement. Can the Assessor bill the boat in my spouse’s name only?

    A: If, in a divorce proceeding, a spouse was given sole title to the boat prior to 12:01 a.m. January 1 (lien date), then that spouse alone would be liable for the tax bill created for that lien date. If title passed to your spouse after January 1, the bill would be issued to the owner or owners of record as of that date and, if you were both owners, the Assessor could not remove your name. If your spouse was awarded the vessel prior to January 1, but the bill was issued in both your names, you need to provide the Assessor’s Boat Section with copies of those court documents which ordered the transfer of title to your spouse.

  • Q: If my boat/watercraft is for sale and is consigned to a broker, will it be assessed for property taxes?

    A: Yes. Only boats and airplanes owned and held in inventory for sale by a licensed dealer are exempt from property taxes.

  • Q: Are boats held for rent eligible for the inventory exemption?

    A: Boats are eligible for the inventory exemption if they are not out on rent on January 1.

  • Q: I sold my boat on April 1. Am I responsible for the tax bill?

    A: Yes. The lien on ownership and the responsibility for the taxes are established on January 1 for the following tax year beginning July 1.

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