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How to Appeal Fire Fee

Fire Fee – How to Appeal

Residential property owners living in rural and unincorporated parts of California may be receiving a bill from the Board of Equalization for fire prevention and safety services. This so-called Fire Fee was a controversial part of the 2011 State Budget. Collection of the tax was suspended this spring because of numerous errors in billing addresses and other confusion. The confusion continues, but the Board of Equalization has started mailing out bills once again.

We have opposed this tax since the beginning and continue to support efforts to see it repealed. It is unfair to residents of rural California that already pay for fire protection and safety services through local taxes.

The law that created this fee also established an appeals process. If you believe you do not owe the fee, you can file an appeal. The Board of Equalization has information on its website about that process: http://www.boe.ca.gov/sptaxprog/fire_prev_fee.htm.

Here are some of the basics:

Time is Critical!
The Fire Fee bill must be paid and/or appealed within thirty days of the date on the bill (not when you received it).

The Petition to Appeal
The petition to appeal must be in writing. CALFIRE has provided a form that can be used. It can be downloaded here. You must include the specific grounds upon which you are contesting the bill and evidence supporting your claim.

Where to Appeal
Mail the petition to the California Department of Forestry’s Fire Prevention Fee Service Center; P.O. Box 2254, Suisun City, CA 94585

How long will it take
Once your petition has been received by the Department of Forestry, the Department will have sixty days to review and issue a written notice of its decision. The petition can be updated (and new information provided) at any time until the Department of Forestry issues its final decision.