Taking Advantage of Every Key Property Tax Break

Taking Advantage of Every Key Property Tax Break

Taking Advantage of Every Key California Property Tax Break

As a CA homeowner – how do you ensure, as with a parent-child transfer,  that you’re not paying more property tax than you should?

California homeowners are hit with some of the highest property taxes in America.  So the key question we face every year is – how can we legally decrease our property taxes?  As we all know – although it’s worth a second look due to the various confusing changes imposed as of 2020,  2021 – two most popular systems we can utilize to lessen our property tax burden involve tax breaks, contained in the 1978, 1986 and 2021 property tax measures entitled  Proposition 13, Proposition 58 and Proposition 19.

To clear up some of the most confusing issues associated with Prop 19 which now implements the classic parent-child transfer or parent-child exclusion (to avoid paying current property tax reassessment, or “fair market” rates), we’ll have  to examine the updated key tax breaks associated with this type of property tax relief in California, as confirmed by the CA State Board of Equalization (BOE).

To review what most of us probably already know – if you inherit a home to be used as your primary residence from your parents or from your children, who used the property as a primary residence,  you can successfully avoid property tax reassessment at fair market rates. This special treatment also applies if you acquire the home from your grandparents (avoiding property tax reassessment through the Proposition 193 grandparent-to-grandchild exclusion), but only if both of your parents are deceased.  Naturally these processes include any basic property tax transfer designed to avoid property tax reassessment, to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property taxes from a dad or a mom, or from grandparents.  The point being to keep parents property taxes at all costs, through a parent-child transfer.

As of February 16, 2021, an inherited home must be used as your primary residence if you wish to avoid property tax reassessment upon it. Additionally, if the difference between the property’s assessed value and fair market value is more than $1,000,000 at the time of transfer, the new assessed value will be the fair market value minus $1,000,000.

Irrevocable Trust Loans & Proposition 19 Property Tax Exclusion

Changes to CA Proposition 58 property tax breaks became active Feb 16, 2021 due to Proposition 19 – trust lenders all across Southern and Northern California are busier than ever, helping Californians who are  inheriting a home from parents, as well as beneficiaries inheriting residential property – establishing a low Proposition 13 property tax base for all inherited property going forward.

On top of all that, beneficiaries who are intent on keeping an inherited home are given, through Proposition 19, formerly Proposition 58, the ability to buyout co-beneficiaries, typically siblings, who are looking to sell their shares in the same inherited property… Only with a lot more cash in hand than a non-family outside buyer would pay for the exact same property.  

In fact, the need for middle class families to establish a low property tax base  for newly inherited property has become so urgent that well known estate & trust lender Commercial Loan Corp in Newport Beach is now offering heirs and beneficiaries inheriting a home from parents a free consultation on parent-child transfer preparation, as well as an estimate of property tax savings overall – to keep their parent’s low property tax base.  This Free Consultation for Property Tax Savings helps evaluate the benefit of a loan to an irrevocable trust, specifically for beneficiaries who want to keep inherited property at their parents’ low property tax rate, with the formerly Prop 58 [now Prop 19] parent-child transfer – to avoid current market reassessment.  This often involves an unusually fast and inexpensive buyout of siblings looking to sell their share of the same inherited home and/or land.

So to reiterate – by originating loans to trusts and estates in probate, a trust lender like Commercial Loan Corp helps to maximize the distribution of funds to a trust or estate; allowing beneficiaries to buyout inherited property from co-beneficiaries, while keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home.  When providing mortgages to trusts or estates in probate, a good trust lender helps clients  avoid the re-evaluation of property at current tax-rates – enabling families to retain a parent’s low Proposition 13 tax base – by obtaining a parent-child exclusion, with a  parent-child transfer… saving on average $6,200+ per year in property taxes. If you need assistance with a trust loan in order to equalize a trust distribution to qualify for Proposition 19 or Proposition 58, we highly recommend you call Commercial Loan Corp at 877-756-4454. 

The Trust Loan Process From the Inside Out

Tanis Alonso, senior account manager at the Newport Beach trust lending firm, offers an experienced inside viewpoint on the trust loan transaction in conjunction with the Proposition 58 and Prop 19 exclusion from paying high current property tax rates:   

Let’s say a property value is currently one million dollars and the current tax base is $1,200. If they were to get reassessed at current value that would be around $11,000 annually.  By someone keeping the property and obtaining a trust loan to properly buy out their siblings that allows the beneficiary that is keeping the property to keep parents property taxes, to retain 100% of the Proposition 13 tax base that was paid by their parents and keep that low property tax base of $1,200.

This of course creates much greater affordability than if they were to improperly buy out their siblings and have that property reassessed. The loan to trust goes hand in hand with the Proposition 58 [now Proposition 19] property tax transfer system, creating enough liquidity to equalize distributions, not sell, and allow a beneficiary to keep their parents property with their low property tax base. It does sound counter intuitive – yet it’s true…

A Property Tax  Appeal Can Lower Taxes on Your Home

County property tax assessors in all 58 California counties assess every homeowner’s property tax by multiplying each home’s taxable value by existing applicable tax rates.  The taxable value is typically based on purchase price, generally referred to as “base-year value”.  However, tax authorities do have the right to increase taxation by up to 2% every year in tandem with inflation, plus reassess the tax value of most real properties under certain specific circumstances. 

For example, if a property owner makes changes to his or her property, such as home renovations, or  adding a large swimming pool, or perhaps building an additional wing or modernizing a kitchen or bathroom, whatever – the county tax assessor who gets a copy of that property’s building permits, might possibly reassess, if a decision to do so is made at that time. And this is when discrepancies or errors sometimes occur, when a tax assessor is also able to initiate a separate base-year value on any new renovations or re-constructed areas attached to a home. Mistakes are often associated with these reassessments.   

Therefore, one effective way to lessen your property tax burden is to reduce the assessed value of your home by filing an appeal stating that  the home’s assessed value is less than the value the tax assessor assigned to it.  

The appeal might prove that the home is in much worse condition than the assessor factored into his or her assessment… or perhaps prove that newly constructed changes to the home were not nearly as extensive as the final property tax assessment showed. Tax reduction firms typically handle county tax assessor challenges of this kind, tax appeals, and this is generally the direction most residents go in, in order to submit a successful appeal, in keeping with the CA State Board of Equalization Property Tax Dept.

California State Board of Equalization County Assessor Directory

The BOE publishes a helpful online guide that explains property tax exclusions in detail. For further information about applying an exclusion to your property inheritance, home or living situation, and any required forms you need to complete the deadline for filing these forms, contact your local tax assessor by consulting the BOE county assessor directory.

CA Proposition 58 and Prop 193 Exclusions

Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer in California

Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer in California

Based on their recent efforts, how do the folks running the state of California, in the Legislature, think that adding property taxes will affect all these working families? Do they even consider how further unraveling property tax relief would affect the California economy as a whole? Does it ever occur to the politicos in the Legislature that going further in the direction of eliminating property tax breaks would literally be a social and financial disaster for the state as a whole?

Since Proposition 58 (as well as Proposition 193 concerning the “Grandparent to Grandchild Exclusion”) is such a critical element holding up property tax relief in the state of California, we might as well take a quick, very simple high-level look at how this all works. To take advantage of Prop 58, certain eligibility requirements must be met. For example, eligible children under this proposition include:

a) Children born of the parents in question
b) Stepchildren
c) Sons-in-law and daughters-in-law
d) Children adopted under the age of 18
e) Children of a child of grandparents (regarding Proposition 193)

Propositions 58 and 193 exclude three types of property transfers, avoiding property tax reassessment at current high market rates:

1. Transfer of a primary residence: The assessed value of a primary residence is eligible for reassessment exclusion, or exemption.

2. Transfer of property through gift, sale, or inheritance: Parent-to-child transfer through a trust will qualify for an exclusion of property tax reassessment.

3. The parent-child exclusion can only be used if the “transferee child” uses the home as the child’s primary residence, and files for the homeowner’s exemption for the property. The parent-child exclusion will not be available if the home is used as a vacation home or is rented out by the children. If the home is transferred to more than one child, they would all have to live together in the home as their primary.

4. A parent can only shelter $1 million of increased value from reassessment. Any appreciation above that will be added to the property tax assessed For instance, if the primary residence is currently assessed at $500,000 but is worth $1,500,000, the child receiving the home and using it as the child’s primary residence will keep the same property tax assessed value of $500,000. However, if the home is worth $3,000,000 and not $1,500,000, the $2,500,000 appreciation will result in an added $1,500,000 assessment; the child’s new property tax assessed value will be $2,000,000 ($500,000 current property tax assessed value + $1,500,000 of “excess appreciation”). This new limitation also applies to a family farm.

Proposition 19 eliminates the second current alternative completely. As of Feb 15, 2021, there will no longer be a Parent to Child exclusion for a transfer of any property other than the parent’s primary residence and a family farm. Although you can still get the benefit of Prop 58 and an irrevocable trust loan if you require that type of financing.

Proposition 58 does not automatically apply to each parent-to-child transfer. To receive the full benefit of Proposition 58, you are required to file within 3-years of the transfer of property ownership.

There are several forms you must file to take advantage of property tax reassessment exclusion. They are Proposition 58 Form BOE-58-AH: Claim for Reassessment Exclusion for Transfer Between Parent and Child; or Proposition 193. Form BOE-58-G: Claim for Reassessment Exclusion for Transfer Between Grandparent and Grandchild.

This completes a very simple, high-level view of what Proposition 58 is all about. Once you understand all that, the next step is to enlist the help of a trust lender to get approved to be able to take advantage of Prop 58 and an irrevocable trust loan for funding to equalize the finances between beneficiaries if some wish to hold on to inherited property while others are looking to sell out to outside buyers.

From that point onward, the next step is to make use of the trust fund loan process, if you wish to equalize financing between you and your siblings or co-beneficiaries, to retain inherited property from your parents and buyout property shares inherited by a sibling, or several co-beneficiaries. You can then own your inherited home without the encumbrances of co-beneficiaries to be concerned with.

California Proposition 58 & Proposition 19 Lenders

California Proposition 58 and Proposition 19 Lenders

California Proposition 58 and Proposition 19 Lenders

A Period of Uncertainty and Stress in America

We all know it’s a period of time right now in America of great uncertainty, insecurity and stress… affecting many families, creating enormous tensions, frequently financial…  Even affecting family estates, when a parent passes away; and where ‘will contests’ can be a real problem for families – for example, sibling-A believing she/he should be getting more than sibling-B;  so on and so forth.  We see a lot more of this sort of family conflict lately, over the past few  years, than ever before.

Although we do, thankfully, have solutions in California to prevent such conflicts from descending into disaster. Some of these solutions are tied into getting approved for CA Proposition 58 so heirs can avoid property tax reassessment; as well as classic CA Proposition 13 property tax breaks, for California property owners looking to work around new Proposition 19 property tax obstacles that force homeowners to move into inherited property within one year or lose their “Parent to Child Exclusion”. This can be a stunning loss of property tax relief; unless we meet it head on, and are able to  successfully work around it. 

It seems it’s still possible to take advantage of the property tax transfer benefit from parents, with the ability to keep parents property taxes while avoiding property tax reassessment of course. Despite newly passed obstacles, we can still transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property – bottom line, inheriting parents property taxes at a low base rate the way Proposition 13 was intended!  

Sibling-to-Sibling CA Property Transfer

Firms like Commercial Loan Corp can help solve estate conflicts between beneficiaries; making it possible for us to buyout siblings with a “sibling to sibling property transfer”, siblings who want to sell their inherited property shares, while allowing us to keep the same mutually inherited property from parents – with a trust loan, at that low base rate.  As long as we get approved for Proposition  58, heirs can avoid property tax reassessment, as the California State Board of Equalization explains.  Or possibly at a niche property tax info blog like this one, Property Tax Transfer

As long as everyone gets the cash they were expecting with a trust loan, and/or end up with a nice low property tax base… everyone ends up in a win-win happy sibling scenario. As long as the ‘will contest’ can be resolved to some degree, and direct communications between siblings doesn’t completely fall part.

These conflicts have often dominated family structures, so much so that some family groups actually splinter apart… with some family members literally leaving California for ever.  Additionally, Southern California home prices are currently at record levels, which doesn’t help. 

Rising Cost of Real Estate, Property Taxes & Day to Day Living Causing Many Homeowners to Leave California 

Because of hyper expensive home pricing many people are moving from California to nearby states where cheaper real estate can be found, in decent middle class or lower middle class neighborhoods; including Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and in some cases Oregon and Washington, according to Jordan Levine, an economist at the CA Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), who says California residents leave to get out from under general California inflation and an increasingly expensive overall lifestyle that many middle class families simply cannot afford to sustain – in terms of buying a home, feeding a family, maintaining numerous cars and insurance plans, health coverage expenses; schools; you name it. 

It is ironic that C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors) produces a report describing elevated living expenses in the state of California, while they are in fact the chief sponsor supporting the recent Proposition 19 property tax measure, watering down  property tax relief for California home owners… contributing to the higher cost of living in the state… Obstructing the way heirs can avoid property tax reassessment by unraveling the “Parent to Child Exclusion” or Parent-to-Child Exemption, as realtors like to call it.

As a matter of fact, this past August, the median home price in California was up more than 12% from a year earlier, according to CoreLogic/DQNews. Experts say the median home price is being impacted by an increase in luxury homes along with the flexibility of remote working options, which also allows people to move away from places like Los Angeles or San Francisco, to nearby states, in rural areas where families can get more space and amenities for far less cost than in many populated areas in California.

California real estate is often significantly more expensive than other, nearby, states. But then again, so is property in states like New York, or Chicago, in Oregon,  Maryland or Massachusetts. However. At least in California, homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property have been fortunate enough to have property tax breaks at their disposal since 1978 such as Proposition 13, maintaining a low property tax cap of 1% to 2 % max.

Proposition 19, Trust Loans & Parent to Child Exclusion

Since 1986, Proposition 58 (now Proposition 19) has positively impacted property transfers and naturally property tax transfer, avoiding property tax reassessment on inherited property while inheriting property taxes from parents.  This  has actually saved homeowners in California tens of thousands of dollars over the years.  Hundreds of thousands, literally, over decades.

In fact, thanks to Proposition 19, trust loan based estate funding transactions save beneficiaries $6,000 to $8,000 or more on average, per family, every year.  No, it’s not millions… But for a regular middle class family it is definitely significant.   And if homeowners can’t access this type of benefit, it will hurt them financially year after year.

So even if we can buy a house more cheaply in a relatively inexpensive state like Ohio, or Idaho, South Dakota, North Carolina, or Wisconsin, for example… All comparatively less pricey than average property in many areas in California — we end up spending more anyway every year in property taxes in those other states. So we end up spending more every year anyway.

Property tax transfer, known as a parent to child transfer or parent to child exclusion, will always be low, at 2% or less – if we continue to be able to avoid property tax reassessment.  With new property tax laws in place, if we miss that 12-month deadline to move into inherited property – then we’re right back in the financial vice known as “current market value”…

And, thanks to California politicos who negotiated for us against the Legislature to at least retain enough of Proposition 58 so as long as we do get in under the wire, within that first 12-months after our decedent passes away… with 6-figure trust loan approval, we can, as beneficiaries, buy out co-beneficiaries’ shares of inherited property, which realtors call “sibling to sibling property transfer”, or ”transfer of property between siblings” and end up owning our own property anyway, without the problem of sharing real estate with siblings we’d rather not own property with.

Thankfully, although the timeline has now become more challenging, we can, as California inheritors and homeowners, still take advantage of tax breaks made possible by Proposition 19 and Proposition 13, in concert with an irrevocable trust — and buyout siblings,  so we can take over our own home at a nice low property tax base, more or less equivalent to the tax base enjoyed by our parents. Property tax relief in California may be a bit rocky right now… but it’s still there, if we use it carefully and judiciously.  And keep both eyes on that calendar!

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.