By Susan A. Neufeld
Sacramento, CA – AB 398 went into effect July 1, 2017. It is a bipartisan cap and trade bill that includes a provision suspending future billings of the controversial fire prevention fee until January 1, 2031.
The fire prevention fees have been imposed since 2011 upon homeowners in “state responsibility areas”. However, property owners who owe past fire fees for fiscal years 2011-12 through 2016-17 still must pay those fees, which are subject to penalties and interest as long as they are unpaid.
The controversial fire prevention fee was charged on each inhabitable structure on a parcel of land that is within an area where the state has primary responsibility for fire suppression. The State Board of Forestry and Fire Prevention then used those funds for specified fire prevention activities. Some affected have been critical of the fees and have protested, saying that the bills they received were an unlawful tax.
The passage of AB 398 does not change any amounts owed to the state from previous fiscal years. Outstanding bills may be paid online, or by sending payment to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), at P.O. Box 942881 Sacramento, CA 94279-2525.