Does the 1978 Proposition 13 & 1986 Prop 58 still Work for Californians?

Does the 1978 Proposition 13 and 1986 Prop 58 still Work for Californians

Does the 1978 Proposition 13 and 1986 Prop 58 still Work for Californians

History Lesson on Property Tax Relief: Support & Opposition

2020 was an extremely motivated time for pent up anti property tax relief movement in California.  The deceptively entitled “2020 Proposition 13” went to voters on March 3, 2020. This tax hike would have increased California’s overall debt; compelling the state’s school districts to issue more debt, raising property tax bills all across the state. It did not pass, and to put it bluntly, was an utter waste of time and taxpayer’s money.

Unlike Proposition 13 passed by voters in 1978, this 2020 version of Proposition 13 would have doubled the debt caps that currently limit how much bond debt local school districts can acquire. The 2020 Proposition 13 caps on local bond debt would have been increased from 1.25% of assessed property value to 2% for elementary and high school districts, and from 2.5% to 4% for school and community college districts.

The extra property tax revenue from 2020 Prop 13 would have gone into pockets not into roads.  The  2020 Proposition 13 tax hike would have cost taxpayers $740 million per year for 35 years. The cash mainly going to construction-worker unions and contractors that hire everyone, with priority spending going to people working on projects in districts that have signed labor agreements that those in  power prefer.  As we know, the so-called 2020 Proposition 13 failed.

Prop 15 and the Near End of Commercial Property Tax Relief     

Even more dangerous for California, the 2020 Proposition 15 tax hike that was proposed to voters across all 58 counties would have removed the right for commercial property owners to avoid property tax reassessment.  This would have raised property taxes on all commercial and business property owners, which would have raised commercial store rents, office and apt. rentals, rentals on all business tenants would have gone up.  This would in turn have increased prices on all goods and services throughout the state of California.   Considering the outcome on middle class residents and working families, it would not have been a pretty picture.

Supporters of the Proposition 15 campaign raised over $67.6 million mostly from foundations and public service unions. The top three contributors were the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative, California Teachers Association, and SEIU California. Supporters say Prop 15 is a broad coalition of 1600 organizations launched by civil rights organizations, housing groups, parents, teachers, nurses, firefighters and community-based organizations who advocate for equality and justice for communities of color

Opposition to Proposition 15 Campaign has raised over $73.1 million mostly from land developers, agricultural interests and golf and country clubs. The largest donor is the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC that has contributed more than $38 million to the No on 15 Campaign.  The Business Roundtable’s biggest donors are New York-based Blackstone Property Partners who gave $7 million and Michael Hayde, CEO of the Irvine real estate investment firm Western National Group, who gave $4.5 million.

Despite the massive effort towards promoting and passing this tax hike, voters were not sufficiently confused or conned into backing the bill en mass… and they rejected this tax increase on commercial properties, supposedly depriving the California school system of what allegedly could be a significant source of consistent revenue.  Although the true intended recipients of this extra commercial property tax revenue remained under questions… and backers of Proposition 15 – the first major effort to cut into beloved property tax relief afforded by Proposition 13 since it was voted into law in 1978 – finally conceded defeat, and California heaved a statewide sigh of unified relief. 

The question remains – would economic collapse of the statewide   consumer base and working family structure in California have been worth a few extra dollars for the educational system, which is doing relatively well as is?

Last Minute Promotion of Snake Oil Sales to California Voters

Motivated, determined and relentless opponents to property tax relief in California came up with a last minute tax hike measure, Proposition 19 – and the CA Association of Realtors shoved $35 Million at the CA Legislature to promote this unusually deceptive bill, after suffering significant tax hike losses.  They managed to confuse enough voters with disingenuous and deceptive public relations to get Proposition 19 passed – by a hair – and watered down the critical Proposition 58 “parent-to-child exclusion” tax break for middle class beneficiaries and new homeowners. 

This weakened California homeowners’ ability to avoid property tax reassessment without obstacles. So Proposition 19 managed to limit parent to child transfer rights to a one-year window, and only as a primary residence.  No longer could investment properties avoid property tax reassessment.

So the ability to transfer parents property taxes, when inheriting property taxes from a parent, is now on a tighter path. We can still keep parents property taxes but they made it more challenging, in the midst of a Pandemic no less.  Avoiding property tax reassessment and establishing a low property tax base; as well as buying out a sibling’s share of inherited property, meaning the transfer of property between siblings or sibling-to-sibling property transfer – still exists, yet with a few more obstacles to remain aware of. 

We can still transfer parents property taxes in California when  inheriting property and inheriting property taxes from a parent, and remain able to keep parents property taxes on any property tax transfer, such as the parent to child transfer or parent to child exclusion.  It’s just not quite as simple or easy as it was prior to advent of Proposition 19.

Thankfully, enough property tax breaks survived in California to enable property owners to still save significantly on property taxes. Californians can still get a trust loan from a trust lender, working alongside Proposition 58, to buyout a co-beneficiary when inheriting property taxes from a parent – and, most importantly, to establish a low Proposition 13 level property tax base, basically forever for an inherited home, for example from a niche firm like Commercial Loan Corp.  

Most Californians struggling financially from Pandemic shutdowns and health outcomes should research niche blogs like this one, or   info sites like EdSource.org who looks  at both sides of Proposition 15 for example, or SiliconValleyandBeyond.com who examines property taxes and Proposition 19, among other related issues. As well as state government websites such as the  California State Board of Equalization.  The more we know about how to use trust loans and these unique tax breaks, plus other property tax reduction solutions we have access to, the better off we’ll all be going forward.

PART TWO: Parent to Child Exclusion From Reassessment

California Parent to Child Exclusion From Property Tax Reassessment

California Parent to Child Exclusion
From Property Tax Reassessment

And yet, until these changes to property tax relief are repealed, let’s be thankful at least that, going forward, beneficiaries inheriting property directly from parents will still be able to retain Proposition 58’s parent to child exclusion from property tax reassessment (at full or current market value), as long as those direct beneficiaries move into an inherited property as a primary residence, within 12-moinths after the passing of the parent leaving  that property as a gift, a sale, or an inheritance.  

This is a difficult matter to overcome without some careful planning… and this is certainly one component of Prop 19 that was, shall we say, “under-played”, or actually hidden from voters, prior to Nov. 2020.  The prevailing thought is that this will perhaps be repealed in the near future once voters actually experience the reality of these changes to Proposition 58, whether they voted for change or not.

Yet, whether we like it or not, all of these revisions do unravel long-standing tax benefits protected by Proposition 58 concerning the parent to child exclusion as well as trust loan enabled sibling to sibling property transfer, buying out property inherited by siblings; or Proposition 193, with regards to the grandparent to grandchild exemption; passed overwhelmingly by voters in California in Nov. of 1986 and March 1996, respectively, allowing parents to transfer their property tax basis of a primary residence ) to their children; plus up to $1 million of assessed value of other property – namely $1million of the Proposition 13 values on rental properties or other investment properties passed to heirs, not based on fair market value; and effectively allowing far more than $1million of property value to transfer while retaining the lower tax bill.

Even though the California Legislature and California Association of Realtors may be more interested in funding unfunded local government pensions, footing the bill for a few school programs, and getting some more homes into the market for sale – it’s not in question to any reasonable person, without a financial or political axe to grind, that Proposition 13, Proposition 58 and Prop 193 have saved heirs thousands upon thousands of dollars every year, that they would have otherwise been spending needlessly on vastly over-priced property taxes.

Not to mention the truly  excellent sibling to sibling property transfer benefit, buying out inherited sibling property – which is always Proposition 58 & trust loan enabled, to buyout property inherited by co-beneficiaries.  Noted attorney Devin Lucas, one of the most knowledgeable proponents of Prop 13, Prop 58 and 193, and California property tax relief in general, which he summed up brilliantly in Oct. of 2020.  Mr. Lucas offered some real-world examples to illustrate the practical importance of these tax breaks for families, as follows:

“Due to the tremendous benefits of Proposition 13, many long term owners continue to pay property taxes based upon their original purchase price (or price as determined when the proposition was enacted), with annual increases not to exceed two percent, regardless of current value. This can be especially beneficial in areas such as Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Orange County and other coastal communities that have seen incredible growth in property values.

For example, assume a parent’s home in Newport Beach is currently worth $2,500,000. They purchased the home long ago for low a low six-figure amount and due to the enormous benefits of Proposition 13 are paying about $3,500 a year in property taxes. If the child were to purchase a home for $2,500,000 today, that would equate to a $25,000 annual property tax bill (assuming one percent, not including various municipal bonds and other taxes commonly found on property tax bills). Transferring the property tax basis of the parent’s home, and therefore that $3,500 a year bill, just saved this hypothetical child $21,500 a year in property taxes. $21,500 a year, for as long as they own the home.

Principal residences have no cap in value, all other property, such as investment properties or second homes, have a benefit cap of $1 million, in which case a mother / grandmother and father / grandfather can combine their exclusions for a limit of $2 million. If the property is worth more than said caps, then a new blended property tax basis will be configured by the county…”  

Other property tax breaks, Propositions 60 and Prop 90 (allowing homeowners over the age of 55 to sell their home and purchase a replacement home of equal or lesser value and maintain the property tax basis of their original home) cannot be combined with a gift or sale of the original home to a child under Proposition 58, which thankfully still works well in concert with a trust loan, buying out inherited sibling property.

Fortunately, Proposition 193 is also intact, allowing grandparents to transfer their current tax-basis to grandchildren. The wonderful thing, still, is that these property tax benefits can always apply to a gift, sale or hybrid of the two and can amount to enormous property tax savings.  And that is truly  what this is all about.

PART THREE: Property Tax Relief Fights for Its’ Life in California…

As we all know, the Coronavirus crisis is not abating in many states – causing severe and consistent unemployment, and overall economic uncertainly.   Certain states are floundering more than others, without any federal support of any kind, even PPE – thereby costing tens of thousands of families the lives of loved ones. 

With millions of jobs initially put on hold – jobs that were placed on  “furloughed”  status or were standard “lay-offs”… are still in question, as far as resurgence is concerned.  Regrettably, it’s impossible to determine the exact number of jobs lost, as some return: whereas others do not.  Therefore, constant fluctuations make permanent calculations difficult to nail down. 

Making matters even more challenging, the federal government historically calculates “unemployment rates” by adding up the number of workers signing up for unemployment checks;  and deduce an unemployment rate in this fashion. However, once workers stop getting  unemployment checks they somehow magically disappear off the grid.  As if they somehow were never in the system.

It would be safe to say that unemployment, nationally and statewide, remains at critical levels.   And yet California is still the only state in the union that provides middle class residential and commercial property owners with genuine property tax breaks.  

And this is exactly what every state in America needs right now, with unemployment and Covid still spiraling out of control.  Lowering property taxes would surely loosen up some cash to help working families buy food and maintain some decent health coverage, plus put some money away for emergencies. 

If we were able to get property tax measures passed in most states, similar to the mega-popular tax breaks California home owners and commercial property owners enjoy, the overall positive cumulative affect on American tax payers would be significant. Folks would be able to easily transfer parents property taxes, and keep transfer parents property taxes, or buyout while inheriting property taxes at a low base rate. 

Especially in times like this – shouldn’t we all have access to property tax relief like this?  An intra-family loan to a trust, using Proposition 13 and Proposition 58 type of property tax transfer benefits and tax breaks, with parent to child transfer or as law firms refer to it – parent to child exclusion, or exemptions.

Do some research and push your Beltway representatives in Congress to put together some bills like California has passed to help home owners and commercial property owners.  And you can use the Covid crisis for added motivation.  This is covered on  informative, accurate niche Websites such as Commercial Loan Corp.  

An intra-family loan to a trust in conjunction with Proposition 58, or Prop 193, makes it possible to maintain a low property tax base basically forever upon a beneficiary buyout of sibling property shares, or as realtors call it, “the transfer of property between siblings”, and “lending money to an irrevocable trust“ – typically from an irrevocable trust loan lender.

While you’re at it, take a look at the CA State Board of Equalization to find out how all this works, or research niche info blogs such as  this one, Property Tax Transfer…  Plus other sites focused on property tax breaks for Californians. And let’s be frank… Living in that state, although there are great benefits, is admittedly expensive – in relation to many other states. 

States like New York, Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts… are all expensive states to reside in.  With zero property tax relief or significant tax breaks of any kind – unless you’re a multi-millionaire or billionaire.  Then you get nothing but legislated V.I.P. tax cuts. However,  firms like Commercial Loan Corp, or Paramount Property Tax Appeal,  provide V.I.P. property tax breaks or V.I.P. personal business and  property tax reduction to everyone…. regardless or income or overall net worth.