CA Proposition 13: Consistency and Necessity
In the 1970s property tax hikes were completely out of control. Especially for working families and middle class folks who were dependent on a fixed income… retired veterans and other government and municipal workers like retired postal workers; homeowners receiving Social Security, and retirees living on a modest pension; etc.
During the past twelve months the average home price in California accelerated by over 19%, the California Association of Realtors reports – seemingly unaware that this very statistic belies what they believe is a good thing (the unraveling of Proposition 13 and property tax relief generally in California), in actual fact it’s a good thing for realtors… not the middle class and working families across the state! In fact it shows that Proposition 13 is as necessary as ever.
Stabilizing CA Property Taxes Throughout All 58 Counties
Kris Vosburgh, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association exec director tells us: “It [Prop 13] resulted in the stabilization of neighborhoods and allows people to stay in the neighborhood where they bought homes and not be forced out by increasing tax. The basic benefit to both new and old home buyers is that you know what your taxes are going to be from year to year. One doesn’t have to shudder in fear.”
And shuddering in fear was exactly what middle class families did when tax time tolled around every year. You never knew what your tax hike was going to look like. There was no stability in property taxation… No consistency you could rely on.
Before Prop 13: An Epidemic of Elderly & Retiree Foreclosure
In Los Angeles County in 1975 and 1976, over 400,000 senior homeowners, many who were elderly, in their 80s or 90s, could not pay off their property taxes, simply because they couldn’t afford the accelerated tax rates and were either at risk of being forced onto the street – or literally were put out onto the street with clothes, furniture and all! Many who were elderly folks and nowhere else to go. Not a pretty picture.
Elderly couples and other older individual homeowners living on a modest fixed income were impacted most of all by these arbitrary property tax hikes. Many were living free and clear but were in grave danger of losing their home, despite the lack of debt, mainly because they simply could not afford excessive property taxes.
And as millions of older middle class Californians were being pushed out of their homes, onto the street, the heroic Howard Jarvis assembled over 1,500,000 signatures to qualify a statewide tax measure that would finally end excessive property taxes – and protect home ownership for working families and middle class homeowners – namely, Proposition 13.
California Property Tax Relief: Facts and Case Studies
One story tells the tale aptly, with respect to the urgent, pressing need California had for fair and equitable property tax relief… It concerned a 56 year old criminal defense attorney by the name of Cameron Quinn, a Lido Isle resident, who lives there with his wife and 18-year-old daughter.
Beneficiaries of Proposition 13, Cameron’s parents bought his house in 1966 for $45,000. After they died, the house passed to Cameron and the benefits of Proposition 13 were his to take advantage of. Last year their property taxes were $966 for a home assessed at $95,403. “Where else could we go where it would be less?” Mr. Quinn tells us, “The fact that the taxes are low is a salvation!”
And of course this eventually included a property tax amendment called Proposition 58. So with robust property tax transfers in California intact, and both official property tax relief measures working – to avoid property tax reassessment – beneficiaries and homeowners could take full advantage of parent to child property tax transfer opportunities to keep parents property taxes with unfettered ability to transfer parents property taxes; officially known as a basic parent-to-child exclusion from reassessment – all to avoid property tax reassessment on one’s primary residence.
Mr. Quinn calls Proposition 13 “a financial security blanket and a far cry from the Costa Mesa condominium where we first lived, with not much more than a television, a bed and an old piano.”
This home is more than just a product of property tax relief for Me. And Mrs. Quinn. This is where they went after their first date, where his mom, a piano-teacher, and friends serenaded the couple. And just as it passed from Mom to them, this home will be passed again from Dad to daughter. “We wouldn’t move,” said Mr. Quinn’s 57 year old wife Neeta Quinn, “This is where we’re going to live forever.”