Common Mistakes to Avoid When Transferring a Property Tax Base

Transferring Property Taxes in California

Transferring Property Taxes in California

The Right Advice & Tax Plan from a Trust Lender 

Much to the relief of Californians who own property and/or are in the process of inheriting a home from a parent, for example, in any of the 58 county across the state, the parent-to-child exclusion from property tax reassessment is still alive and well in all 58 counties, in 2022.

However, quite often, new homeowners and beneficiaries trigger a property tax hike strictly by accident, and end up facing thousands upon thousands of dollars in property taxes from property tax reassessment – that could and should have been avoided, had the right advice and tax plan been in focus.

High property values in California highlight the need for careful property tax planning. If you have owned your property for many years Generally, in terms of property taxes, homeowners who have owned their home for a long time typically have a lower assessed value than current or “fair market” property value tends to be.

Parent-to-Child Exclusion

As far as parent to child transfers are concerned, when one beneficiary who is inheriting a home decides to buyout property shares inherited by co-beneficiaries (siblings) – to have complete ownership of said property – it’s easy to misstep and mistakenly trigger property tax reassessment.

A parent to child property tax transfer in is line with the effort to  avoid property tax reassessment under Proposition 19’s parent-child exclusion, retaining a parent’s Proposition 13 low property tax base. Therefore a loan to an irrevocable trust working in conjunction with Proposition 19 allows us to transfer property between siblings – buying out property from siblings.

Likewise, beneficiaries, upon inheriting property from parents, still have a property tax transfer at their disposal to transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes when inheriting a parental home, and thus inheriting property taxes, but at a low  base rate.  Hence, the use of a parent-child transfer… enabling the use of the invaluable parent-to-child exclusion – bottom line, helping us avoid any possibility of triggering property tax reassessment! 

Choosing the Right  Trust Lender, to Keep a Low Property Tax  Base While Buying Out Inherited Property From Siblings

We prefer a trust lender who can formulate and deliver the more reliable, simple Proposition 19 rules & regs, in conjunction with an irrevocable trust loan to equalize beneficiary buyouts of inherited property shares.

We have found that any type of unconventional property financing other than irrevocable trust loan funding may run into unpleasant surprises such as property tax reassessment – due to an abrupt change in control, or revised ownership!

LLCs, Corporations, or various Partnership entities owning real estate are subject to a myriad of property tax rules & regs that can change on a dime, often disqualifying beneficiaries from taking full advantage of the parent-to-child exclusion, to maintain a low property tax base, and perhaps buying out inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries – avoiding property tax reassessment and running headlong into pricey financial surprises.

Transferring Your Base Year Value Under Proposition 19

Given new changes to Proposition 19, if you happen to be over age 55, or are severely disabled, you may be able to transfer your home’s current base year value to the purchase of a different home, thereby keeping your property tax payments low. To qualify, you must acquire your new home through a sale transaction. If you acquire any portion of the new property by gift or inheritance, you will not be able to transfer your base year value.

Property Tax Relief for All Californians

Proposition 13 – 34% Against Versus 62.6% For

On June 6, 1978 Proposition 13 passed as a property tax relief measure with 4,280,689 votes for – versus 2,326,167 votes against. In the final analysis, it came down to finally taking a great deal of power away from the County Tax Collectors; and giving it back to taxpayers!

Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, were the best known Proposition 13 advocates. Officially known as the “People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation”,  also referred to as the Jarvis-Gann Amendment,  Proposition 13 was listed for voters through the so-called “California ballot initiative process” – which allows a constitutional amendment to be offered to voters when political advocates assemble a certain number of signatures on  a petition.     

For Once, Tax Relief for the Middle Class in California – Not Special Interests

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that Mr. Jarvis was a hugely successful residential apt. building owner, and Mr. Gann, a political activist who passed away from HIV due to infected blood from a unfortunate transfusion, who ironically devoted the last several years of his life to AIDS treatment advocacy – in direct opposition to his fellow conservatives. California’s “Paul Gann Blood Safety Act” was passed into law in 1990, mandating that doctors discuss the risks of blood transfusion with their patients.

Two non-politicians named Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann courageously soldiered on – without precedence – until they won the day. This rarely occurs in political circles, as we all know.  But for once, some non-politicians actually changed things for the better in California. And virtually overnight, once Howard Jarvis and his so-called “Tax Revolt” passed Proposition 13, property tax rates in California finally became predictable and equitable – from San Jose to San Francisco and beyond, in all 58 counties.

Under this new property tax relief measure, the property tax rate is now set at a uniform 1% throughout the state, and property tax increases are limited to no more than 2% a year as long as the property is not sold.

Previously, the tax rate in California averaged almost 3% of market value, and there were no limits on increases either for the tax rate or property value assessments. Some properties were reassessed 50% to 100% higher in just one year, so property owners’ tax bills skyrocketed, often  way beyond homeowners’ ability to pay their property taxes.

Now, once sold, property is reassessed at 1% of the new market value (usually the sales price) with a 2% cap on annual tax increases. As a result, new buyers are always aware of what their taxes will be and know the maximum amount property taxes can increase each year for as long as they own the property. 

Then, in 1986, Amendment Proposition 58 was passed; and  homeowners as well as beneficiaries inheriting property from parents could happily take advantage of a transfer of property between siblings or sibling-to-sibling property transfer in conjunction with an irrevocable trust loan, typically for buying out inherited property shares from siblings, while keeping a low property tax base (now used with California Proposition 19 which has replaced Proposition 58). 

Overnight, beneficiaries  could transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property taxes; and could keep parents property taxes after a property tax transfer made possible by a parent-child transfer, officially a parent-to-child exclusion which, exactly like buying out inherited property shares, is also now governed by Proposition 19.  

Benefits for Non Property Owners

While Proposition 13 is mainly famous for capping property taxes in California, it also stops arbitrary tax hikes at the state and local level. It makes sure that any state tax increase had to be approved by a 2/3 majority in the Legislature, and any new or increased local taxation must be approved by voters, not just a collection of special interest politicians.

Supplemented by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – a co-sponsored tax measure entitled Proposition 218 (the Right to Vote on Taxes Act) makes sure that voter approval of all new local taxes is required, no matter what. So not just property owners, but also renters, benefit – as Proposition 13 stabilizes property taxes, making them predictable and reasonably controlled; reducing any uncontrolled or unexpected rent increases throughout the state of California.

What to Look For in an Estate & Trust Lender

Trust Loans in California

How to get a trust loan in California

Retaining a Low Property Tax Base in California

Establishing and locking in a low property tax base helps you as a new homeowner, or beneficiary inheriting parental property, to minimize your property tax burden over the long-term. As most Californians know, to save on taxes it’s essential to utilize existing property tax relief tools to reduce taxes on inherited real estate… Tools that support property tax transfer and property tax breaks;, the ability to  transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes as long as an inherited home remains a primary residence; inheriting property taxes.

Most residents believe expert help is essential, from a property tax consultant, a tax attorney, or a trust lender; and feel it would make very little sense to ignore this.  

What we should find in an experienced California trust lender, along with providing a loan to an irrevocable trust, is expertise guiding new homeowners, or beneficiaries inheriting a home, through the inheritance process – able to establish the low property tax base still possible under Proposition 13 – in conjunction with Proposition 19…

Proposition 19 is still clinging to the frayed edges of Proposition 58, as homeowners and renters alike show signs of buyers remorse, all across California, having voted for Proposition 19, thinking that their ability to avoid a property tax reassessment was the key ingredient… amidst confusion over the fine print concerning property tax transfers – hidden behind sentimental window dressing claiming to be tax revenue going mainly to firefighters, the elderly, and folks hindered by wildfires or other natural disasters and disabilities.

Californians are sentimental Westerners by nature, and what Westerners could possibly vote against the elderly and homeowners with severe disabilities!

At any rate, a loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust lender, working in concert with Proposition 19, in conjunction with a parent to child property tax transfer — better known as a parent-child transfer and parent-to-child exclusion, allows heirs and  beneficiaries to avoid a property tax reassessment – while also being able to buyout inherited property shares from siblings, for more cash than an outside buyer would offer.

Essential Trust Lender Tasks

Meanwhile, California real estate taxes are maintained at a reasonable level by Proposition 13, which limits real estate tax increases to 2% maximum per year. Proposition 58, Proposition 193, and Proposition 19 allow for this low tax basis to continue if real property is transferred to heirs from a parent or grandparent.

At any rate, a good trust lender should be able to complete the following tasks flawlessly and without issue:

1. Deciding which beneficiary will own the inherited property in question.

2. Determining how much money is needed for an irrevocable trust loan.

3. Funding a high six-figure or low seven-figure trust loan.

4. Distribution of an irrevocable trust loan, equalizing the amount of cash going to each beneficiary that is looking to sell off their inherited property shares.

5. Filing change-of-ownership, while keeping a legacy tax basis.

6. Mapping out how beneficiaries will repay a trust loan. 

Finally, a relationship with a trust lender is based on belief, and good faith, as all relationships are.  Plus results, which surface soon enough.

What is The Role of a CA Property Tax Consultant?

California Property Tax Consultant

The Role of a California Property Tax Consultant

What Property Tax Consultants Provide

This article provides an overview on property tax consulting and the benefits that come with enlisting the help of a property tax consultant with expertise in California property tax relief, among other key issues.

To begin with, County Property Tax Assessors – as every homeowner or relevant property owner, new beneficiary and estate heir in California knows – are solely responsible for implementing property tax assessments in their county. The County Assessor is also who one has to deal with when negotiating or submitting a property tax appeal, or filing various related paperwork; or to confirm deadline dates for filings.

However, we find that most homeowners and property owning landlords wind up enlisting the help of a tax appeal firm, or a professional property tax consultant to mitigate what they believe are property tax overcharges, to minimize their long-term property tax burden on a residence or an inherited home.

As many Californians know, property tax consultants frequently handle Tax Assessor negotiations or litigation issues for homeowners and business property owners; and often refer homeowners and beneficiaries to a trust lender, to take advantage of an irrevocable trust loan, while keeping a parents low property tax base.

And as many residents are aware, a loan to an irrevocable trust also works jointly with a parent-to-child exclusion from Proposition 19 (i.e., formerly Proposition 58) and as we mentioned a moment ago keeping a low property tax base while retaining an inherited home from a parent… Also being able to buyout inherited property shares from a co-beneficiary intent on selling their inherited property – for far more cash than an outside buyer would offer.  So in a sense, property tax consultants are aiding both estate heirs and trust beneficiaries looking to buyout siblings’ inherited property, as well as the siblings, or co-beneficiaries, interested in selling out. 

As most Californians that own property know, property tax relief  under Proposition 19 mainly revolves around  the property tax transfer measure, more specifically the parent-child transfer and  protected right to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property and inheriting property taxes, generally with the ability to keep parents property taxes basically for as long as one resides in a primary residence – initiated by the parent-to-child exclusion.

CA Property Tax Consultants: Popular Categories

There are different types of property tax consulting services. Some consultants are experienced appraisers, with expertise in both residential and non-residential corporate real property evaluation. Some companies lack the expertise to some up with their own property tax valuation assessments on their own, and so hire property tax valuation consultants to produce customized property tax assessments for them.

On the other hand, there are “strategy consultants” who can negotiate property tax appeals, help with tax reduction planning, and handle payments for property owners. There are also property tax consultants that concentrate on helping property owners with compliance issues, assembling data and preparing documents to file with the County Assessor.

Michael Wyatt Consulting: General Practice CA Property Tax Consultants

Many property tax consultants offer a combination of services. This is generally the best type of property tax consultant to work with, as they are a lot less limited, in terms of what they can offer you and your family. It’s often helpful to look closely at an actual property tax consultant in California to get a real-life sense of what a professional service like this can actually offer.

For example, let’s take a look at the Michael Wyatt Consulting firm in Corona, California. Since 1978, this boutique firm has specialized in commercial and real estate appraisal, as well as property taxes and property tax relief, custom property research, real estate finance, real estate law, and real estate market analysis, site planning, and entitlements.

Setting them aside from many property tax consultants in California, this particular firm, and most generalist property tax consulting firms like them, will review your real property values every year, getting a fresh look at the status of whatever specific issues are in focus or at stake. If there are proposed property transactions in the works, a reliable property tax consultant will look at that transaction from every angle, to avoid property tax assessment.

Moreover, an on-staff general property tax consultant will always take time to respond to a client’s various needs, such as researching an issue that requires deeper investigation to ensure that all “t’s” are crossed and all “i’s” are dotted; and will always look carefully at any real estate deeds or other related items to make sure all data and numbers are completely accurate before committing final tallies and results to writing, and/or filing with the Tax Assessor.

Generalist tax consultants also tend to stand in as a “middle-man” between you, the property owner, and the Tax Assessor, coordinating your accepted fee payment – or your property tax appeal – and will complete all communications and filings with the County Tax Assessor’s office… and/or any other required government entity or agency.

Like all established, seasoned property tax consultants, the Michael Wyatt Consulting firm provides property owning clients with the knowledge they’ll need to make informed, correct real estate and/or property tax decisions – in order to meet all financial and residency challenges head on; in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Communicating With County Tax Assessors Throughout California

Additional benefits homeowners receive from working with property tax consultants include the ability to make good use of an experienced consultant’s in-depth knowledge of valuation principles, negotiating dispassionately and successfully with Tax Assessors concerning property tax breaks such as the Proposition 19 (formerly Prop 58) parent-child exclusion or assess and apply Proposition 19 tax relief measures that come with being over age 55, being severely disabled, or from owning a primary residence that was destroyed by a natural disaster like a flood or an earthquake, or a forest-fire.

Both homeowners and companies look to property tax consultants to help them put together a customized property tax relief strategy, based on the location of their home or properties’ and to present that plan effectively to the local County Tax Assessor.

A competent property tax consultant should be able to provide expertise on a transfer of a primary residence’s property tax base value to a replacement residence of any value, or to expand tax benefits for the transfer of a family farm — anywhere in California, which calls for new benefits and is highly complex, requiring rather specific expertise.

Awareness of Big-Picture Views and Legislative Issues

It is part of a property tax consultant’s job to lower the value of a property for a homeowner or a business, and to communicate this properly and effectively to a Tax Assessor, and to research challenging issues if necessary, and comprehend different industry categories whenever required.

Not only must a property tax consultant be knowledgeable about property taxes and property tax relief – the property tax consultant must also maintain a big-picture view of state or county legislation that may be looming in the future, and that may affect real estate in your particular county or region – or even possibly in the state of California, if statewide issues happen to be at stake.

Property tax consultants are occasionally also estate attorneys, and typically are compliant with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) standards; and maintain a good reputation you can check on in the property tax industry associations and non-profit organizations.

PART ONE: The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families & Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act

California Proposition 19

California Proposition 19

Otherwise known as Proposition 19, the new tax measure, more or less replacing Proposition 58, implemented changes to the parent-to-child and grandparent-to-grandchild exclusion – with the base year value transfer measure going into effect April 1, 2021.

Although we’ve covered these rules and regulations previously in this blog it’s always worthwhile to hear what yet another California property tax specialist has to say, if only to verify what others have described as viable revisions to long standing property tax relief in California – so critically important to middle class and upper middle class residents.

Viewpoint From Los Angeles Tax Assessor Jeff Prang

So let’s take a quick look at what senior Los Angeles Tax Assessor Mr. Jeff Prang has to say about these changes to property tax relief in California, and see if his viewpoint is consistent with, or otherwise deviates from, other noted tax experts and property tax specialists in the state, some that we have reviewed or actually spoken to over the past tumultuous year.

Mr. Prang confirms that Proposition 19 tax base transfers allow seniors, age 55 and up, to transfer the taxable value of their existing home to a new “replacement home of any value” – anywhere in the state of California – up to 3-times, instead of only once, as previous property tax regulations allowed, prior to Feb 2021.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Prang mentions the former Proposition 50 and Proposition 171, and looks at the improvements brought about by Proposition 19 to those tax measures – concerning personal harm and property damage from natural disasters, or wildfire; and the subsequent transfer of base year value of a principal residence to any other county, which was much more limited before Proposition 19 took effect .

Mr. Prang also goes out of his way to point out that Proposition 19 allows homeowners to purchase a replacement home of greater value than their original home and transfer their tax base with an adjustment to account for the value difference in cases of homes destroyed or severely damaged by wildfire, which is ironically running rampant in 2021, or some other natural disaster such as flooding or an earthquake.

Parent-to-Child and Grandparent-Grandchild Property Transfer

As of Feb 2021, most tax experts and property tax consultants agree  that in order to inherit a low assessment of a parent or grandparent’s property, under Prop 19, some new conditions must be met, and estate attorneys must get up to speed with these conditions – such as getting in the habit of informing clients that an inherited home has to be moved into within 12 months, retaining a parent’s low property tax base; as primary residence, plus to qualify for a base year value the inherited home must have been the primary residence of the parent or grandparent leaving the property to heirs.

In fact, there is now so much new information for estate and tax attorneys to get up to speed with notably inheriting property while retaining a parent’s low property tax base, to avoid property tax reassessment that many law firms more frequently,  lately, have  been sending clients who are inheriting real property from parents to a trust lender, as those particular lenders bridge the knowledge gap – and serve a purpose lawyers cannot serve, which is providing funding to irrevocable trusts if you as a beneficiary want to keep your parent’s home and, most importantly, retain their low property tax base – buying out sibling property shares while keeping your inherited home at a low Proposition 13 tax base… Basically, taking advantage of Proposition 19 (previously Proposition 58 benefits) in conjunction with an irrevocable trust to buyout one or more siblings’  property shares.  Sounds simple, however it isn’t.

General consensus of tax experts in California is that the CA State Board of Equalization stipulates a concrete set of property tax rules and regs, despite the fact that there are still areas concerning Proposition 19 that remain vague and oddly non-specific, which is still causing accountants and other tax professionals a good deal of distress; and for their business and high net worth clients even more concern – particularly when there is a great deal of money at stake.

 >> Click Here for Part Two…