CA Property Tax Benefits, 2022 Onward
Despite confusing, often deceptive messaging, designed at all costs to get Proposition 19 voted into law in The Golden State of California – it’s clear to most Californians that Proposition 19 property tax breaks really will increase property tax relief measures for homeowners over age 55, plus add exclusions from property taxes for homeowners who are victims of wild-fires and other natural disasters – plus homeowners who are seriously disabled.
Despite a little juggling with the facts, the slick promotion to get this tax measure voted into law, with attractive promises of improved tax exemptions… it did in fact appear to be a legitimate, believable package of property tax relief benefits for residents of the state of California — as long as you ignored the fine print.
What used to be Proposition 60 (voted into law in 1986, the same year Proposition 58 was passed), helped homeowners over 55 to sell their house and move into another home valuated at the same amount or less – in the same county – maintaining a low property tax base… This has been rolled into Proposition 19, and can be taken at face value… as long as the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) continues to function as a non-political, fact-based source of CA property tax info – which, according to experts and state economists, it does appear to be doing.
Experts Weight in on Proposition 19
Gaye Chun, the City National Bank wealth planner confirms, telling us: “The idea was to make it easier for seniors to move without worrying about a huge jump in their property tax bill that might be difficult for them to pay.”
Bruce M. Macdonald, an attorney with Carico Macdonald Kil & Benz LLP in El Segundo, CA agrees, stating, “If someone over 55 sold a house for $5 million, but they were paying taxes on a lower assessed value based on their original purchase price, they could buy a new house for $2 million and still pay taxes at their original, lower tax assessment.” No doubt, a truly significant improvement to a tax hike reflecting current or “fair market” property reassessment.
Tax Assessments and Property Tax Breaks in California
Property taxes are typically based on assessed value rather than current fair market value. In most states, tax assessments are conducted every one to five years and are not changed when a property is sold or transferred as a gift or inheritance.
In California, to everyone’s relief, property tax relief measures have been voted into law to limit tax assessed value of property, as well as capping property tax rates, plus enabling beneficiaries inheriting property from parents to avoid high property tax reassessment – establishing a low property tax base right away, when inheriting a home from parents.
Much has been said about property tax relief on the critical side, by realtors and high net worth business people that benefit from tax increases… However, if you talk to working families, middle class Californians, and even upper middle class homeowners – you will hear nothing but praise for property tax relief laws such as Proposition 13, passed in 1978; and Proposition 58, passed in 1986 – enabling middle class families to avoid CA property reassessment… making tax breaks available to homeowners and beneficiaries such as property tax transfer; with the ability to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property while keeping a low property tax base; with the right to keep parents property taxes basically forever… inheriting property taxes without issue from Dad or Mom whenever they pass.
Giving beneficiaries the ability to avoid CA property reassessment through parent to child transfer and a parent-to-child exclusion is a major asset to middle class residents in California; as well as being able to take advantage of Proposition 19, in conjunction with a loan to an irrevocable trust to buyout siblings’ share of inherited property – keeping a close eye on mistakes to avoid when transferring a property tax base. Now, the ability to avoid CA property reassessment and other property tax relief benefits are under serious threat.
All of this was planned, launched and protected by Howard Jarvis and his famous Taxpayers Association, as well as others who joined in the effort beginning in the mid 1970s, when property tax increases were basically out of control… often forcing elderly widows and others living on a fixed income, literally onto the street with their furniture piled up around them on the sidewalk!
Not the way anyone with a conscience would want elderly Californians to end up, in the Autumn of their life – simply to benefit a few real estate firms who will make more money from increased sales (with more homes for sale due to increased inability to pay rising taxes), with the CA Legislature piling up tax revenue higher and higher as property tax revenue increases. Perhaps helpful to a few in the short term… but with dire consequences in the long term for the entire state.
Experts Weigh In on CA Property Tax Relief
“In 1978, California voters approved Prop. 13, a constitutional amendment known as ‘The People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation’ that was meant to protect older residents who were unable to keep up with large property tax increases”, Gaye Chun tells us; and adds, “Several propositions since then have tinkered with property taxes.”
“Homeowners who plan to transfer their residence to their children now or as part of their inheritance should seek professional advice, so they understand the impact of the new property tax rules”, asserts Bruce Macdonald, the well known attorney in El Segundo.
“Current changes in property tax rules could be significant for some families, because it’s not that unusual in California to have a house that was assessed at $150,000 when the parents bought it, to be worth $5 million 40 years later,” Mr. Macdonald, Esq. explains; adding, “When the kids could inherit their parents’ house at the assessed value of $150,000, the property taxes would be approximately $1,500. Now, if the house is assessed at $5 million, that would incur a significantly higher tax bill!”
Experts in California tell us that this points to all the more reason for repealing Proposition 19… as well as adding more concrete protections to keep Proposition 13 safe from anti-property-tax-relief realtors and the politicians that are firmly in their pocket.