California has begun mailing bills to rural property owners for fire prevention. If you own habitable property the CalFire's jurisdiction, you will eventually receive two bills this year--one for the State's 2011-2012 fiscal year, and one for its 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Each bill will be $150 per habitable structure on your property. So if you have one house on your property and no other habitable structures, you will receive two bills this year totaling $300.
PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE DUE DATE. You may have fewer than 30 days to pay. If you are late, there is a 20% penalty, plus interest. Every 30 days after that, another 20% penalty is added, plus interest. The fee is a lien on your property, and failure to pay can result in foreclosure.
Unfortunately, it appears the IRS has taken the position in a recent Memorandum that such payments are not deductible property taxes.
Office of Chief Counsel, IRS Memorandum 2013-10-029 (Jan. 14, 2013) (released Mar. 8, 2013):
Issue: May California residents deduct the Fire Prevention Fee they may pay on their federal income tax returns as a real property tax deduction under section 164 of the Internal Revenue Code and § 1.164-4 of the Income Tax Regulations?Conclusion: California residents may not deduct the Fire Prevention Fee as a real property tax deduction because (i) the fee is not a tax under California or federal law (ii) the fee is not levied at a like rate, (iii) the fee is not imposed throughout the taxing authority's jurisdiction, and (iv) the fee is assessed only against specific property to provide a local benefit