Part Five: California Proposition 58, How to avoid property tax reassessment on an inherited home.

Bringing us up into the present, critics such as Assemblyman  David Chiu, of the San Francisco Assembly’s housing committee, continue to ignore how wildly popular avoiding property tax reassessment is in California… and  they are still repeating the same litany that is echoed by a thin minority throughout the state, insisting that, “The inheritance tax break has exacerbated [wealth] inequality and is symbolic of that inequality. The idea of the American Dream of everyday people being able to make it is completely impacted when the haves get more, and the have-nots have no chance of benefiting from property investment windfalls.”

We hear this litany all the time… indicating that wealthy Californians are the only people in the state that benefit from the Prop 13 tax break, avoiding property tax reassessment.

This misinformation is, of course, nonsense…. twisting the truth to fit a certain point of view; which in itself is, essentially, untrue on the face of it. All those people Mr. Chiu is actually referring to are renters not owners… and yet – without knowing it he is actually making the point that needs to be made – that, bottom line, most landlords are able to save on property taxes, thanks to Prop 13, and in turn this allows them to keep rents low for renters. However, that’s the part of the equation that folks like Mr. Chiu forget!

And if indeed property owners, i.e., landlords, throughout California, did not have the Proposition 13 tax break, obviously they would be motivated to raise their rents. So, in fact, without knowing it, Mr. Chiu and others voicing the same opinions are surfacing the critical point that proponents of these tax shelters have been trying to make – since you could avoid property tax reassessment with Proposition 13, after it was passed overwhelmingly by nearly 66% by voters in 1978, and subsequently, in 1986, when the popular Proposition 58 parent to child transfer of property taxes passed, providing parent to child exclusion from property tax reassessment; plus Proposition 193, a constitutional amendment approved by voters on March 27, 1996, which allows grandparents to transfer property to grandchildren – with the ability to avoid property tax reassessment all on their own as grandparents and grandchildren.

The main point being, it’s not only property owners that are benefiting financially from Proposition 13 tax relief – we have also found Prop 13 and Proposition 58 benefits strengthening family bonding and overall net worth, providing an enormous blanket of peace of mind for home owners of all stripes, cultures, ages and incomes…. as well as those expecting to inherit CA property, or looking to become happy home owners. Moreover, renters are paying far less in rent, thanks to the property owners they pay rent to being able to continue avoiding property tax reassessment, and therefore spending less every year on property taxes that they would otherwise be passing on to their renters. Clearly, this savings trickles down from owner to renter for thousands of renters in California. Whether the David Chiu’s of this world care to admit it, or not.

Part Three: Why is Proposition 13 & Prop 58, Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment & Property Tax Transfer Relief, Attractive to so Many Californians?

There was so much instability within the real estate tax system in California before Proposition 13 and Proposition 58, that it had become downright dangerous and unhealthy – with severe anxiety spreading throughout the state, with home owners worrying constantly about losing their home, and with some people actually losing their beloved home. This was pre-1978, before Proposition 13 and Proposition 58 revised tax law so that Californians can keep parents property taxes.

Consider if this was you.  What do you do if state tax collectors put a lien on your home, or actually take your home? Your life spirals downward, you go and live with relatives, which is typically not an attractive direction to go in – or, worse, you become homeless… or reside in some other circumstances that are not to your liking.

This property tax relief called Proposition 13 finally brought a close to the chronic instability, fear and terrible yearly financial pressure on residential and commercial property owners throughout the state that was causing California property owners to literally buckle under. It was affecting peoples’ health… especially older folks – as severe stress tends to be more difficult to handle  as people grow older. The most obvious financial benefit Californians could see, and experience right away, was “property tax transfer” – that is, consistently eliminating property tax increases from present-value property tax reassessment.

All of a sudden, Californians had (and still have) a reliable and predictable system in place, serving them not the tax collectors. Californians finally had the ability to avoid present-day property   tax reassessment, directly after Proposition 13 was in effect. And   a decade later after Proposition 58 and Proposition 193 came on board, property owners had a tax shelter with Proposition 58 – protecting property transfers, for parent to child transfer, with parent to child exclusion of tax reassessment… as well as grandparent to grandchild exclusion  of tax reassessment from Proposition 193.  All of these tax benefits were suddenly in effect for all Californians – regardless of income, age or total property value.

As we all know,  with these remarkable changes in effect, Californians can keep parents property taxes, and can transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property of any type  (commercial or residential) or value – legally avoiding property tax reassessment… which is where all the trouble stemmed from in the first place.

As residents recall, you could actually see the relief in peoples’ faces, all over California, from Los Angeles up to San Francisco. Even renters, who don’t own property, noticed that their rents remained low – and can see the same difference now, 24 years later – due to Proposition 13 relieving landlords of tax increases that would otherwise motivate them to raise rents on their tenants.