California Fire Prevention Fees Are Not Tax Deductible Says IRS

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. 

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association warns:

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