An Unsecured Tax is an ad-valorem (value based) property tax that is the liability of the person or entity assessed for the tax. Because the tax is not secured by real property (such as land) the tax is called "unsecured."
Unsecured property taxes are a lien against the individual not against real property. Some typical items assessed and collected on the unsecured roll are:
Boats and jet skis
Improvements on the real estate of others
Most possessor interests
Escape and supplemental assessments against former owner of real property
The lien for unsecured taxes is against the assessee. The assessee can be any person owning, claiming, possessing, or controlling the property on the lien date.
Ownership on the lien date, January 1 of each year, determines the obligation to pay taxes. Disposal, removal, or sale of the object of the assessment after the lien date will not affect the tax bill nor relieve the assessee of liability. The owner of record as of January 1 is responsible for paying the bill. No proration is made by the Tax Collector on unsecured taxes. Any proration is strictly a private matter between buyer and seller.
Buyer Beware: The tax collector's office participates in the DMV Registration Withholding for Tax-Delinquent Vessels. The DMV will not release the hold until all taxes owing on the boat have been paid in full. Check with DMV first to determine if there are any outstanding property taxes owing on the vessel you wish to purchase. It is between the buyer and the seller to settle such taxes before registration can occur.