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 Brought About CA Property Tax Relief & Where is it Going?

California homes are valued at high prices these days, and frankly most of these properties do seem to retain their high value, in comparison to lower-priced homes in many other states, for example in the Midwest, in the Deep South… way up north in New England, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, where families can purchase a multi-bedroom home on an acre or two of land in a decent neighborhood for a very reasonable price, at low 6-figures.

Proposition 13 and the Statewide CA Property Tax Rate Cap

Even so, many California homes now have a “taxable value” that is lower than the average American market value (i.e., in other states). However, these values are deceptive as this is only due to Proposition 13 being  voted into law in 1978, holding back the taxable value of property from going up higher than 2% per year, regardless of the increase in the overall average American market value; until, that is, property changes ownership.

Proposition 13 cut the statewide property tax rate to 1% of a home’s taxable value, down from a statewide average of 2.67% to 3%, give or take. Of course, what many Californians don’t realize is that this tax relief for homeowners also holds rental prices down, as apt. building owners, landlords, are spending less on property taxes themselves, therefore are less inclined to go up in rents.

As many of us know, property values were increasing in the early to mid 1970s in California, and business property owners as well as homeowners were suddenly victims of consistent property tax hikes, and artificially escalated property values, when until then you could buy a lovely middle class property at a very affordable rate – almost anywhere in the state, other than certain obvious high-end enclaves, such as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Sausalito,  Beverly Hills, Malibu, etc.

Public Push-Back Against Property Tax Hikes

Residents like retirees, middle class widows, veterans and elderly folks with fixed incomes, were basically living on government pensions or social security and perhaps a few stock dividends kicking in here and there. The problem was, from a Californian public relations point of view – folks living on these modest fixed incomes were all of a sudden losing their home to egregious property tax hikes… And public anger was rising to a fever pitch by 1976, 1977.

By 1978 this dissatisfaction among middle class and upper middle class families – against artificially escalated, unpredictable property tax hikes rose to such a fever pitch throughout California that property tax relief, in the form of Proposition 13, was an inevitable outcome.  Largely due to the efforts of wealthy apt. building landlord Howard Jarvis and his “Taxpayers’ Revolt” – and this put a stop to homeowners hemorrhaging cash every year on property taxes.

Prior to Proposition13 the state was growing in leaps and bounds, becoming more affluent by the decade; therefore large homes and business properties were being purchased by the middle and upper middle classes – and inherited from parents – which subsequently triggered a “change in ownership” and thus property reassessment.

Therefore the resulting property taxes were high enough to be called estate taxes, and often caused middle class families to sell their home, as they simply could not afford this type of property taxation any longer. Put quite simply – it was unsustainable. Which is precisely why Howard Jarvis and Proposition 13,  and later the ability to transfer CA property between siblings, came about in the first place.

Proposition 58 and the CA Parent-Child Exclusion are Born

By the 1890s property owners in the state were getting used to property tax relief, and wanted more. So in 1986 the California Legislature voted with a huge majority to place a measure on the ballot called Proposition 58, to exclude parent-child transfers of property from the legal definition of “change of ownership.”  And the right to transfer CA property between siblings, along with parent-to-child exclusion, was born… adding to the popular suite of tax relief benefits furnished by Prop13. 

This tax measure (which has completely morphed into Proposition 19, with additional tax breaks), used in conjunction with a loan to an irrevocable trust, made the right to transfer CA property between siblings, also called “a sibling-to-sibling property transfer”, possible – so beneficiaries looking to buyout inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries could easily do so, while establishing a low property tax base, when inheriting a home from parents… when inheriting property taxes. 

Heirs were now able to transfer parents property taxes, to transfer CA property between siblings (through a trust loan) and keep parents property taxes from a now standard property tax transfer – which attorneys call a Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer… plus for the first time the right to avoid property tax reassessment during an inheritance – and this was actually normalized.  Which was incredibly important to middle class homeowners all across the state of California, who were previously struggling to make it every year, with heightened property taxes always looming over their heads.  This was causing a growing state of anxiety, county by county. 

This also meant that when homes and small business properties were inherited the property tax bill would not be affected. Proposition 58 was approved by more than 75% of voters statewide. In fact voters soon thereafter passed Proposition 193 to extend the same rules to transfers between grandparents and grandchildren, as long as the children’s parents were deceased.

Of course, as with everything else, certain malcontents (the realtor community among them), simply couldn’t stand to see that many people benefiting from a good thing, and so decided to unravel it, get more property tax revenue into the state coffers, as well as increase real estate sales commissions!

California Realtors Finally Deal a Blow to Property Tax Relief

In 2020, backed largely by the powerful California realtor community, with the CA Legislature stepping in to provide political cover, “Proposition 19” was created to take a large slice of that tax relief back from homeowners – yet appealed strongly to homeowners over 55, the elderly, folks with infirmities, and victims of natural disasters, fires and earthquakes, all who benefited nicely from a host of attractive property tax relief benefits!

Although, many voters (now experiencing buyer’s remorse) did not fully realize that Proposition 19 took away some of the protections afforded by Propositions 58 and Prop 193, and replaced them with a more limited exclusion from property tax reassessment.  Many middle class and upper middle class Californians who have worked all their lives to own a home to pass down to their children are finding that their plans have been upended by Proposition 19.  Due to the increase in property values, reassessment of inherited properties to current market value will force some homeowners to sell because they can’t afford to pay the higher tax bill every year.

Which is exactly why the spirit of Howard Jarvis reared up its’ head again, in the form of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association organizing volunteers to collect signatures to try to repeal the “death tax” portion of Proposition 19, without changing the provisions that protect seniors and wildfire victims. To qualify the measure for the November 2022 ballot, nearly a million valid signatures of registered voters are needed. Deadline to submit signatures is 4/29/22.

Once again the middle and upper middle classes, along with the elderly, have powerful allies in California!

Taxpayer’s Association Summation of Efforts to Protect Tax Relief:

Early organizing will be essential if the effort to repeal the death tax is to succeed. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) is shifting into high gear, with all hands on deck, signing up volunteers and spreading the word at https://reinstate58.hjta.org/#volunteer The Taxpayers Association is sponsoring a Bill entitled “Senate Bill 668”, introduced by Sen. Patricia Bates (of Laguna Niguel) – which would, if passed, continue to protect your grown children, and theirs, against tax hikes should they inherit your home, which attorneys have a fancy name for – i.e., “intergenerational transfers of property” (up to Feb 16, 2023).

Proposition 19’s changes to the tax treatment of inherited property took effect in February, leaving Californians little time to consult with family members, attorneys or tax professionals to plan for these sudden, harsh changes to property tax liability for the next generation.

HJTA also supports a constitutional amendment to reinstate Proposition 58 (1986) and Proposition 193 (1996), two measures that were overwhelmingly approved by voters to protect family property from reassessment when passed from parents to children or grandparents to grandchildren. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (Granite Bay) is working with HJTA on final language for an Assembly Constitutional Amendment that would restore these protections.

California voters have strongly opposed state inheritance taxes, which were abolished by constitutional amendment in 1982. Proposition 19 has effectively resurrected the inheritance tax in California, with the added burden that families must pay it every year as a condition of keeping their property.

And once again the middle and the upper middle classes plus the elderly in California have powerful friends and allies stepping up into the spotlight to protect their homes, their  security and their well being!

Establishing a Low Property Tax Base in California

Property Taxes in California

Property Taxes in California

Establishing a Low Property Tax Base ~ Who to Turn to in 2022

It’s always interesting, with respect to estate funding and inheritance financing, how different schools of thought come up with different solutions for saving money on property taxes, for out-of-the-box funding solutions against inheritance assets, and for mortgage capitalization. 

Name brand name lenders, setting the tone  for most lenders in California, such as Quicken Loans, e-Loan,  Wells Fargo and Bank of America – are admittedly all high-end, reliable finance-information and lending sources.  Yet – when it comes to important income tax or property tax matters, or inheritance funding solutions – their editors and writers, talented as they may be, still only nibble around the edges on anything but the most conventional, largely ineffective solutions. 

For example, where tax relief is concerned these firms typically dance around the critical issues associated with property tax exemptions, establishing a low property tax base, or avoiding property tax reassessment – when inheriting a home in any of the  58 counties in California. So who do we turn to for help?

Many property owners embrace basics, and enlist assistance from established property tax experts such as Rachelle Lee-Warner, Esq. — well known Partner, Managing Attorney & Trust Administration / property tax relief expert at Cunningham Legal. Or trusted property tax consultant Michael Wyatt, President of Michael Wyatt Consulting in Corona. Or a reliable trust lender like Commercial Loan Corp, led by inspirational CEO, Kerry Smith in Newport Beach – specializing in irrevocable trust loans, avoiding property tax reassessment and establishing a low  property tax base – for middle class California families… guiding them through while showing them all the new advantages that Proposition 19 offers.  Perhaps not as generous as Proposition 58 might have offered… however, lowering property taxes to a greater degree than you might think.

Avoiding Poor Solutions and Time-Wasters 

With regards to lowering property taxes — these are typical solutions from “expert websites” that homeowners might not want to take very seriously, or avoid completely…

  • Limiting your “home improvement” projects;
  • Researching nearby neighborhoods for pricing and home values;
  • Asking uninformed young attorneys or relatives (to save money) if you qualify for tax exemptions;
  • Walking around your neighborhood with your Tax Assessor;
  • Checking your tax bill for inaccuracies;
  • Getting a second, third and fourth opinion from unproven  Assessors and property tax consultants;
  • Meeting with your local Tax Assessor to convince him/her to revise your tax bill;
  • Researching and filing a property tax appeal challenge with your County Tax Assessor without a professional property tax appeal firm – on your own, simply to save money.

Checking for inaccuracies, or getting a second opinion isn’t a bad suggestion.  But walking through your house with your local Tax Assessor?  Researching prices around your neighborhood? With all due respect to the financial websites that hand out this kind of advice, these suggestions would be laughable – if they weren’t so serious.  Limiting your home improvement projects – to lower your property taxes? 

Effective Solutions with a Tax Professional or a Trust Lender

We will never be free from property taxes while we own our own home, but one does need to be on the there are a few simple “tricks” you can use to lower your property tax bill, as certain websites claim. 

We can investigate comparable homes in our neighborhood for “discrepancies”. Never making any changes to our property exterior right before a tax assessment, as this can increase the value of our property; hence increase our property tax bill.

Or, we can stroll around our house and chat with our Tax Assessor during our yearly assessment. That makes a lot of sense. Lastly, we can look for local and state exemptions, and, “if all else fails, write up and file a tax appeal to lower our property tax bill”  so suggests a well known financial site.  Listen, if we’re going to file a property tax appeal with a County Tax Assessor, we’d be a lot better off doing it through a professional property tax appeal firm.

If we want to address this issue seriously, and not simple throw silly and unrealistic suggestions out there simply to see what sticks – we have to look at realistic opportunities to take advantage of. 

For example, if we’re an heir of an estate, or a trust beneficiary inheriting a house from our Mom or Dad – and the house is in an irrevocable trust – a loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust lender is likely required if the trust does not contain sufficient cash to make an equal distribution to all of the co- beneficiaries looking to sell off their inherited property shares. This is frequently taken advantage of by beneficiaries, perhaps like yourself, who intend to keep a home inherited from a parent at the original low property tax base.

A loan to an irrevocable trust makes it possible to buyout inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries and greatly speeds up the trust distribution process. A trust loan also saves a great deal of money when you compare selling the family home through a realtor or broker receiving a 6% commission, plus legal fees, and other closing costs.

Inheriting Parents’ Home While Keeping Their Low Property Tax Base

Bottom line, avoiding property tax reassessment  and establishing a low property tax base by transferring property taxes, are property tax relief benefits available to all property owners in California, protected by Proposition 19 & Proposition 13. This should always be taken full advantage of.  You can transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property and inheriting property taxes – and keep parents property taxes basically forever, establishing a low property tax base with Prop 19 benefits as well as taking advantage of a trust loan buyout of property inherited by siblings. Why not?  It’s your right.  Plus, there is no better time than the present to become better acquainted with the parent to child property tax transfer.

This type of property tax transfer is at the foundation of property tax relief for all Californians, generally through a parent to child property tax transfer on an inherited home – usually referred to as a Prop 19 parent-child transfer or parent-to-child exclusion… all the way to a transfer of property between siblings through a loan to an irrevocable trust, in conjunction with Proposition 19 – with an entire year to settle in to an inherited principle residence, or multiple residence (although only one heir is actually required to lock this tax relief benefit in). As long as the parent leaving that property to heirs resided there as a principle residence as well – which is usually the case anyway.      

Using a Trust Loan to Establish a Low Property Tax Base

Buying out sibling property shares while keeping your inherited home at a low Proposition 13 tax base is a popular avenue for many families.  Not only that, if your siblings are receiving funds from an irrevocable trust to sell their inherited property shares, they would receive far less money getting cash from an outside buyer, as opposed to funds from an irrevocable trust. The costs associated with preparing a home for sale, expensive realtor fees, and potential closing costs associated with selling an inherited home can be incredibly expensive.

When a trust loan is used to facilitate a trust distribution, each beneficiary receives an average of an additional $15,000.00 in distribution when compared to selling the home. The person keeping the family home also benefits – saving $6,200+ per year in property tax savings – simply by avoiding property tax reassessment on a nice old inherited home from Mom and/or Dad.

Voters passed CA Proposition 19, just squeaking by with a handful of votes from confused voters in Nov of 2020, and the tax measure became active on April 1, 2021. If you want to intake good advice and avoid mistakes, have property tax experts carefully walk you through Proposition 19, and Proposition 13.

Most middle class and upper middle class California homeowners probably have heard about Proposition 19, the new property tax law that allows seniors and disabled homeowners to keep their current property tax rate when they sell their home and buy a new one. But they may not know how to apply this new law when moving to a new home.

It’s the state’s largest expansion of property tax benefits in decades, basically allowing qualified homeowners to take their Proposition 13 tax base with them anywhere in the state, no matter the price of their new home.

Helping California Middle Class Homeowners Avoid Property Tax Reassessment

Under Prop. 13, tax hikes are capped at 2% a year, meaning the longer you own your home, the lower your property taxes relative to the market value of your home. But some homeowners lose their Proposition 13 tax break when they sell their old home and see their new tax jump to the full market value of their new one.

If you are 55 years or older, a person with a severe disability or a victim of wildfires or natural disasters, you can move to any home in the state, regardless of the home’s price. Your tax is unchanged up to the value of your old home. If your new home costs more than your old one, you pay an additional amount based on the market value over your old home’s price.

When you’re used to a low property tax bill, it can be a shock to your monthly expenses when buying a replacement home includes a huge property tax increase – especially if you have lived in your current home for many years.

Some older middle class homeowners feel trapped because they can’t leave their current home, even if it no longer fits their needs, because they are on a fixed income like Social Security, or a modest pension or military retirement, and can’t afford to move. Taking advantage of Proposition 19 may appear challenging.  But as time passes, more and more tax assessors are providing online links to forms and resources to help homeowners understand how to benefit from these new property tax rules and regulations.

 

Does a Change in Ownership Affect CA Property Taxes?

California Change in Property Ownership

California Change in Property Ownership

Californians who make it their business to know – now understand that triggering property tax reassessment to “a new Base Year Value” as a result of new construction to a home, or a complete change in ownership – which makes it virtually impossible to establish  a low property tax base; and results in a yearly tax rate that increases abruptly to  current or “fair market” rates.

Translation in everyday language – you pay much higher property taxes every year. For example, the different between $600 per year and $9,000 per year. Significantly higher property taxes.

Every County Tax Assessor in California, in all fifty-eight counties, records and reviews every single property deed in every county, to figure out which homes and various other real properties require reappraisal, and which do not. The Tax Assessors also determine ownership changes with other investigative tools such as such as kept records from homeowner self-reporting, or from records of building permits; from newspaper files; or field inspections.

When a County Tax Assessor has determined that a property has changed ownership, Proposition 13 stipulates that the County Tax Assessor must reassess that property to its current (i.e., fair market) tax rate, as per the date of change of ownership.

Because property taxes in California are based on a property’s assessed value – at the time of acquisition – the property taxes will be increased if the current market rate is higher than the original assessed Prop 13 base year value adjustment. Therefore – if the current market tax rate is lesser than the previous adjusted base year value assessment, then taxes on that property will go down. Which is what everyone wants.

It is important to note, however, that a portion of ownership of that property may be reappraised. Let’s say that 50% of a home is transferred under Proposition 13, and the changes that the Tax Assessor is going to reassess is 50% of the home at the current market rate, as per the transfer date, so 50% will be deducted from the base year value, under Proposition 13 property tax relief… 

Typically, when someone buys a home, the home goes through a “change in ownership” and 100% of the home is reassessed at full current market value.   Even if the outcome of transferring real estate is a change in ownership, there are a number of exclusions from paying current tax rates – and so certain homes or other real estate will often not be be reappraised under these sorts of home transfers.

If a property owner files the proper claim, an exclusion from paying updated current property taxes will kick in as long the owner’s property, or portions of this property, are correctly excluded from reassessment.

The best way to cover changes in ownership that are excluded from automatic reassessment, or reassessment by claim; is to enlist the help of a tax attorney, a property tax consultant, or a trust lender who specializes in establishing a low property tax base for heirs upon inheriting a home from a parent.

Frequently, this will assist beneficiaries in buying out inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries through a loan to an irrevocable trust, which realtors and property tax specialists call a transfer of property between siblings or a sibling-to-sibling property transfer – working in conjunction with a California Proposition 19  parent to child property tax transfer on an inherited home – a parent-to-child exclusion (from property tax reassessment at full, current market rates), to establish a low property tax base.  

Naturally, this line of property tax relief, based on a parent’s property  also includes the ability to transfer property taxes when inheriting property taxes from a parent. Under these tax breaks, a property tax transfer like this can help heirs keep parents’ property taxes basically forever, based on a parent-child transfer; or a parent to child exclusion from reassessment – to legally avoid property tax reassessment.

You can always consult your Tax Assessor, however it is generally in the Tax Assessor’s best interest to charge you the maximum amount possible. A property tax consultant or trust lender, on the other hand, is motivated to save you money on taxes, not see you spend more.

Postponing Property Taxes in California

We have discussed this issue previously in this blog… however, it does bear further introspection. Property taxes that have been deferred for a few months can hardly be called property tax relief! Regardless how many people in state leaders hip positions call it “property tax relief”, it simply is not. It’s merely tax deferment. A parent-child exclusion avoiding property reassessment is a genuine property tax relief benefit.  The press should not conflate the two in headlines as if they were the same. They’re not.  

Genuine Property Tax Relief VS Postponed Property Taxes

The State Controller’s property tax postponement program permits senior property owners and homeowners with a severe disability to defer property taxes on a primary residence – if they are in compliance with the new Prop 19 requirements plus have 40% or more equity in their house; with a household income of $45,810 or less per year. With a lien against the house, until taxes are paid off.

You get to delay paying the tax man for ninety days. So Californians need to determine what this actually accomplishes. Does this help homeowners financially? Now, deferring taxes for five-years might be helpful to some property owners. But a few months is simply not going to move the needle into the “help” column.

Other than being a rather weak gesture, this is a dismal effort to help residents in California get through an unprecedented, tough time. If the folks running the state wanted to really help Californians, they might want to consider simply deleting property taxes this year, and see how the virus crisis is next year.

Not only would this be a great political move – it would actually help homeowners in a big way. It would be a genuine property tax relief initiative.  Postponing property tax payments is merely deferring taxes that have to be repaid anyway, therefore there is no authentic relief of taxation involved here, merely a delay.

Property Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans

If a military veteran is 100% disabled as a result of a combat wound or whatever, that veteran can get approved for a full property tax exemption.  Other homestead exemptions exist for veterans over the age of 65, along with surviving spouses.

Eligibility

To be eligible, a homeowner has to apply and subsequently meet all of the criteria below for every year in which a postponement of property taxes is being requested:

• Residents must be age 62 or older; or severely disabled (including blindness);
• Residents must own and reside in a primary home (exception being house-boats);
• Residents must verify a household income of $45,810 or under;
• Residents must own  40% or more of the property;
• There can be no reverse mortgage on the property in question.

Property Taxes that are in Default, or are Unmanageable

CA state law does not allow the SCO (State Controller’s Office) to pay for delinquent or defaulted property taxes that are owed on a home, for example, that is under consideration for postponement of property taxation. Late These taxes simply have to be paid, by California law. Regardless of a Pandemic, or whatever.

However, you can qualify for postponement of current taxes. The amount of defaulted property taxes will be added to the amounts owed against the property to determine equity. Therefore “delinquent” or “defaulted” property tax payments do not qualify for tax deferment. Another reason this mild gesture does not contain any of the earmarks of genuine tax relief…. such as those provided for by tax breaks like a parent-child exclusion avoiding property reassessment.

Interest Rates on Deferred CA Property Tax Payments Owed

The interest rate imposed on “postponed” taxes under this PTP (Property Tax Postponement) program is 5% yearly.  Interest on postponed property taxes is computed monthly on a simple interest basis.  Interest on the postponement account continues to accrue until all postponed property taxes plus interest are repaid to the state. So $1,000 in deferred taxes would be $50 yearly – $4.17 monthly.

Property tax relief? It looks more like loan sharking than it does tax relief.

A Lien or Security Agreement for Postponed Property Taxes

To secure repayment of deferred property taxes, the State Controller’s Office (SCO) imposes a lien against property with the county or a security agreement with the Department of Housing and Community Development. The lien or security agreement remains in effect until the account is paid off. A one-time fee is added to release a lien once the account has been completely paid off.

Property Taxes Paid By California Lenders

The State Controller’s Office (SCO) is not responsible for contacting your lender if your property taxes are currently paid through an impound, escrow, or other type of account.  If you’re approved for Property Tax Postponement (PTP), the SCO will typically agree to make a payment on your behalf directly to the County Tax Collector.  PTP does not reduce your monthly mortgage payment. A business property owner or homeowner must contact their lender directly to pay off monies due.

Refund of Paid Property Taxes

Once an application is approved and property taxes have been paid for a current-year, or if the property taxes are paid by a lender, a property owner receives a refund from their county tax collector.
All full or partial payments are applied to accumulated interest and to the balance owed. Checks or money orders are payable to the “California State Controller’s Office” and mailed to:

California State Controller’s Office
Departmental Accounting Office – PTP
P.O. Box 942850
Sacramento, CA 94250-0001

Collection and repayment process

Homeowners can pay all or a portion of the balance to the State Controller’s Office at any time. However, postponed property taxes and interest are due right away or payable when a homeowner:

a) Moves away from a property;
b) Sells or conveys title to the property;
c) Is deceased but does not have a spouse, registered domestic partner, or other qualified individual who continues to reside in the property;
d) Is delinquent on future property taxes or has other senior liens;
e) Refinances or gets a reverse mortgage on the property in question.

Authentic Property Tax Relief

As you may or may not know – genuine property tax relief does exist in California, in terms of establishing a low property tax base when inheriting a home; through a process discussed in this blog several times, combining a parent-to-child exclusion avoiding property reassessment protected by Proposition 19 in concert with a 5 or 6 figure loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust lender.

The process of buying out siblings’ shares of inherited property through an irrevocable trust loan – the transfer of property between siblings or “sibling to sibling property transfer” – equalizes payment among beneficiaries selling their inherited property shares, and furnishes them with far more cash than a conventional outside buyer would.

Likewise, genuine property tax relief such as keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home; or property tax transfers in California for those inheriting real estate from parents… giving homeowners the ability to transfer parents property taxes under Proposition 19 in tandem with a locked-in parent-child transfer or a parent-to-child exclusion avoiding property reassessment at high current tax rates when inheriting property taxes, and transferring property taxes in California

Although, manufactured home owners with delinquent and/or defaulted property taxes do not qualify for property tax postponement.  However, as we have already indicated, it’s high time to cease discussions altogether about property tax postponement – and start pivoting rapidly towards property tax cancellation, while the pandemic continues to cause shutdowns and job losses and economic hardships for middle class homeowners.

The History of Property Tax Relief in California

California Property Taxes

California Property Taxes

An Historical View of Property Tax Relief

A property tax measure entitled “Proposition 13” locked in property tax relief in 1978 that, despite efforts from certain parties to turn the clock backwards for financial reasons, California has managed somehow to maintain for middle class and upper middle class homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting parental property.

This tax relief process, along with Proposition 58 in 1986, providing residents with a means to establish a low property tax base, and to transfer a home from parent to heir with a parent-to-child exclusion from paying current property tax rates…. While keeping a low parental property tax base.

Traditional banking and other lending institutions no longer provide Californians with loans that solve financial requirements for irrevocable trusts, estates, probates, conservators, and other non-traditional inheritors and borrowers. We now must look to Trust Lenders to bridge this financing gap when it pertains to funding trusts, to buyout co-beneficiaries, siblings typically… as well as locking in a Proposition 13 protected low property tax base, with tax rates that cannot exceed 2%.

Property tax breaks like property tax transfers and the parent-to-child exclusion; the right to transfer property taxes that cemented the foundation of Proposition 58 – now in the foundation of Proposition 19…. With some restrictions that, regrettably, many Californians were not fully aware of when they cast their property tax vote in Nov of 2020.

Property Tax Relief – Involving Prop 13 & Prop 19 Trust Loans

The process that makes up the robust foundation of Prop 13 and Proposition 58, now Proposition 19, has managed to survive despite fluctuations and changes throughout 2020 and 2021, enabling funding of a trust or estate to allow equalization of distribution to beneficiaries inheriting property that are looking to sell out their property shares; while those looking to keep inherited property get to establish a low property tax base, and avoid property reassessment.

Your situation may reflect elements sin one or more of the following inheritance scenarios – frequently requiring a non-traditional solution; typically an inheritance funding assignment, or the funding of an irrevocable trust… Trust lenders like Commercial Loan Corp offer a free consultation in which some of the following scenarios and options will most likely be discussed – 

a) Siblings may be going through intra-family conflicts concerning which assessed evaluation of the property in question reflects the “true value of the property”; or confirming which beneficiaries want to keep inherited property, at their parent’s low property tax base – and which siblings insist on selling their property shares to a buyer, at which point it becomes obvious that a buyout from a trust will furnish beneficiaries looking to sell with far more cash than a typical buyer going through a realtor will provide – by avoiding a realtor’s 6% commission, additional fees, legal costs, etc. 

b) Does your family agree there is a need for a loan to an irrevocable trust, or an estate loan. An experienced trust lender is able to fund an intra-family trust that will furnish enough liquidity to equalize funding to all beneficiaries intent on selling off their inherited property shares… while at the same time establishing a low property tax base for heirs that are committed to keeping the family home — avoiding property reassessment in conjunction with Proposition 19.

c) Does your family agree to a specific loan amount required to liquidate an irrevocable trust; to “equalize” buyout cash for beneficiaries within a middle class or upper middle class family that wish to sell off their inherited property shares. Property value and whether or not all the siblings agree on the assessed evaluation, the amount of liquid assets in a trust, as well as the number of siblings set on selling their property shares — influence the liquidity requirements of an irrevocable trust.

d) “Funding equalization” and “cash distribution” should be reviewed during a free consultation – insuring that equalization will result in a sufficient amount of funds being directly distributed to all beneficiaries intent on selling their inherited property shares. Therefore, change of ownership will handled properly and filed to ensure an exclusion from reassessment (i.e., a “parent-to-child exclusion”, often called an “exemption”) – bottom line, making sure that the family can avoid property tax reassessment, keep parents property taxes when inheriting property taxes  becomes a reality.  Property tax transfer, the ability to keep parents property taxes, is still a bottom line property tax relief benefit in California.

The heir or beneficiaries keeping the home pays back the trust loan with personal funds, or with a conventional loan, or through some other means of repaying the irrevocable trust loan.  Keeping the finalization of the process as straight forward as possible. It must appear to be simple, and in a way actually be simple, or residents will shy away from it, if they can’t understand how it works, even in a general way.  

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment When Transferring an Inherited Home

Avoiding Costly Property Tax Reassessment On An Inherited Home

How To Avoid Property Tax Reassessment On An Inherited Home

Should I Give My Home to My Children as “a Gift”?

Many people wonder if it is a sensible idea, given their personal tax situation, to give their home to their children as a gift.  For middle class or upper middle class families this really is a moot question, as the threat of steep taxation clearly applies only to folks with high net worth.  Bottom line, you can gift $11.58 million over an entire lifetime without bring hit with a gift tax. 

How many people do any of us know who will  be giving away over eleven million dollars in real estate over the next 50 years?  Think for a moment how wealthy you would have to be in order to give away over eleven million dollars in property to your children.  Regardless,   giving away a house to offspring can have a variety of peculiar financial or tax consequences, among other outcomes. 

In 2021, and the years following, the annual “gift tax exemption” will stay at $15,000 per recipient. This means you can give up to $15,000 to as many people as you want during the coming year without any of it being subject to a gift tax.

A gift tax is imposed if you transfer money or property to another person without receiving at least equal value in return. This could apply to parents giving money to their children, the gifting of property such as a house or a car, or any other transfer. There is also a lifetime exclusion of $11,700,000. The very idea that any entity outside a family group can make decisions on taxing what a family does or does not do with their real estate is a most unpopular idea among most citizens.

Being Aware of all Consequences, Giving Your Home to Heirs

ElderLawAnswers.com weighs in on this issue, which is highly appropriate, as these writers and editors frequently deal with tax problems facing older Americans. June 23, 2020 they published an article entitled “Giving Your Home to Your Children Can Have Tax Consequences”

When you give anyone property valued at more than $15,000 in any one year, you have to file a gift tax form. Also, under current law (2020) you can gift a total of $11.58 million over your lifetime without incurring a gift tax. If your residence is worth less than $11.58 million, you likely won’t have to pay any gift taxes, but you will still have to file a gift tax form.

While you may not have to pay gift taxes on the gift, if your children sell the house right away, they may be facing steep taxes. The reason is that when you give away your property, the tax basis (or the original cost) of the property for the giver becomes the tax basis for the recipient. For example, suppose you bought the house years ago for $150,000 and it is now worth $350,000. If you give your house to your children, the tax basis will be $150,000.

If the children sell the house, they will have to pay capital gains taxes on the difference between $150,000 and the selling price. The only way for your children to avoid the taxes is for them to live in the house for at least two years before selling it. In that case, they can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a couple) of their capital gains from taxes.

Inherited property does not face the same taxes as gifted property. If the children were to inherit the property, the property’s tax basis would be “stepped up,” which means the basis would be the current value of the property. However, the home will remain in your estate, which may have estate tax consequences.

Beyond the tax consequences, gifting a house to children can affect your eligibility for Medicaid coverage of long-term care. There are other options for giving your house to your children, including putting it in a trust, or selling it to them. Before you give away your home, consult your elder law attorney, who can advise you on the best method for passing on your home

Potential Property Tax Surprises for the Middle Class

As we can plainly see, if you’re not extremely wealthy you don’t face the same severe real estate tax burden that high net worth families face when gifting property to offspring. However, the tax man just doesn’t quit there. If you leave your home as part of your entire estate to your children, the property’s “tax basis” would be stepped up, in other words the “basis” would be the actual current value of your inherited property. 

Moreover – if the house remains in the estate, it will most likely will impose a significant estate tax burden on you, unless you take advantage of some other options, such as using an irrevocable trust loan in tandem with Proposition 19, to lock down a low Proposition 13 protected property tax base.

On top of these sort of tax consequences, middle class and even upper middle class homeowners are generally stunned when they discover that  gifting a home to heirs can also affect their eligibility, when becoming elderly, for Medicaid “long-term care” coverage. What many senior Californians call “a sneak  attack”.

Options to Help Your Children Avoid Property Tax Reassessment

Fortunately, there are some attractive options that you, as a home-owning parent, can turn to – prior to giving your children a house… such as (a) placing the house into a trust; (b) speaking with your children about how loans to irrevocable trusts work in their favor  when used in conjunction with Proposition 19 to buyout property shares from siblings – in other words keeping the home at a low property tax base with an irrevocable trust loan from a trust lender     whose expertise includes taking complete  advantage of California Proposition 19 parent-to-child property tax transfer on an inherited home as another option to turn to when you’re gone; or (c) simply selling your home  to your kids at an incredibly low price.

So before you decide to gift, or give away, your home – definitely consult with an estate lawyer, or an elder law attorney… who can advise you correctly on the best next-steps for transferring property over to an heir or several beneficiaries. Your children may very well turn to an irrevocable trust loan down the road, and this could save them from a severe tax burden that they may not even be aware of at this stage.

Naturally, if you have several children and some wish to buyout other siblings who decide to sell their shares, then your children who want to retain your property may wish to enlist the help of a trust lender as well as an attorney, to get an irrevocable trust loan to buy those siblings out while keeping the home at a low property tax base, given that your home is your primary residence, which is most likely is. 

Prop 58 Parent-Child Exclusion Has Morphed Into Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

The Proposition 58 parent-child exclusion and other tax  breaks have now  changed into the Proposition 19 Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer

As most Californians are aware, a home undergoes reassessment at “market value” if it’s transferred, inherited, sold or gifted – and, in turn, taxes on the property often increase significantly. Yet, if the sale or gift or transfer is between parent and offspring, in certain situations, the home won’t undergo reassessment once specific requirements are met and the relevant application is filed properly.

California’s unique Proposition 58 tax break enables new homeowners or beneficiaries to avoid property tax reassessment when inheriting real estate and liquid assets; upon receiving a home or other real estate from a parent – or vice versa. When a home, for example, is sold, given as a gift, transferred as an inheritance, or transferred through a trust.  However, the fact remains – inheriting property taxes from Dad or Mom is now more limited than it was before.

As we know, a new homeowner’s property taxes are calculated through the time honored, low Proposition 13 base year value, typically what parents had paid… as opposed to so-called “fair market value” or “current market value” when new property is acquired – gifted, bought, generally inherited… As most homeowners know by now, real estate transfers excluded from property tax reassessment by Proposition 58 or Prop 193 have to be used as a principal residence (with no value limit). 

For those of you who are extra detail oriented – Proposition 58 is established in section 63.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.  It’s also worth mentioning that, with respect to  Proposition 193,  parents of a grandchild do have to be deceased prior to property transfer from grandparent to grandchild.  Alternatively, the grandparent’s child can be deceased, with the surviving parent-in-law being remarried prior to the transfer event.

The below bullet points may untangle some of the confusion that has formed around some of these property  tax breaks.  We need to take note that property tax relief limitations built into Proposition 19 are presently serving as a replacement to the pre-Feb 2021 Proposition 58  parent-to-child exclusion, also referred to as a “parent-child exemption” (from property tax reassessment).

Some of the new Proposition 19 tax breaks are a work in progress,  however most have been given a stamp of approval by the BOE

• Proposition 19 was more or less rushed through the political and electoral process, passed by the CA Legislature in under a week, and placed onto the Nov 2020 ballot, changing the California state constitution without implementing the appropriate statutes. Homeowners’ ability to transfer parents property taxes, in other words the right to keep parents property taxes on any parental property tax transfer, inheriting property taxes from Dad or Mom… and enabling heirs to keep parents property taxes are sill in place as valid tax breaks, allowing beneficiaries or heirs to avoid property tax reassessment – the process is just more limited than it was previously. 

Moreover, establishing a low property tax base along with the transfer of property between siblings, sibling-to-sibling property transfer – buying out a sibling’s share of inherited property through a trust loan, in conjunction with Prop 58, is still firmly in place, however inheriting property taxes from Dad or Mom is now limited somewhat by Proposition 19. Similar limitations are now in place as well concerning the process of inheriting property taxes from a parent, the parent to child transfer and exclusion for reassessment of property taxes, or parent-child exclusion (from property tax reassessment at current market rates).

• Sections of the approved documentation and revisions to various sections are vague at best and often unclear

• To correct these issues, Santa Clara County Tax Assessor Larry Stone was appointed by the California Assessors’ Association (CAA), with four other tax Assessors, to a hastily formed CAA “committee” to try to provide some clarity to the new Proposition 19 implementation process.

• The CAA “committee” has enlisted supposed specialists and tax lawyers throughout California, and is working with the Board of Equalization (BOE) to furnish guidance and where necessary recommend passage, on an urgency basis, towards implementing appropriate statutes.

• Homeowners over the age of 55 (or “who meet other qualifications” which remains vague) would be eligible for property tax savings when they move. To avoid property tax reassessment at current or “fair market” rates, beneficiaries inheriting property from parents must move within 12-months into an inherited home, using this property only as a primary or principle residence.

• Likewise, the parent leaving the home to beneficiaries must have been residing in that home as a principle or primary residence. Apparently, going forward into 2021 and beyond, there will be no exceptions to these new rules and regulations.

• Only inherited properties used as primary homes or farms would be eligible for property tax savings. Those who are “severely disabled”, or whose homes were destroyed by wildfire or a “natural disaster” can now transfer their primary residence’s property tax base value to a replacement residence of any value, anywhere in the state.  This was considerably more limited prior to Feb 2021.

• Eligible homeowners can now take advantage of “special rules” to move to a more expensive home. Their property tax bill would still go up but not by as much as it would be for home buyers that are “not eligible”.

• Eligible homeowners may use these “special rules” three times in a lifetime. (for declared disaster victims, there is no limit on the number of times these benefits can be used.)

Filing Requirements

A claim form must now, as of Feb 2021, be completed and signed by the transferors and transferee and filed with the Assessor. A claim has to be filed  within three years after the date of purchase or transfer, or prior to the transfer of the real estate to a third party, whichever is earlier.

If a claim form has not been filed by the date specified above it will be timely if filed within six months after the date of mailing of the notice of supplemental or escape assessment for this property. If a claim is not timely filed the exclusion will be granted beginning with the calendar year in which you file your claim.

Getting the Most Out Of Prop 13 and Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

Getting the Most Out Of Prop 13 and Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

Getting the Most Out Of Prop 13 and Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

Residents in California that Benefit from Proposition 19

Focusing on senior residents and of course wildfire victims in the promotion of Proposition 19 was an extremely clever move by the CA Legislature. The state has been in the midst of another catastrophic series of natural fire storms  at the same time that voters were being introduced to the Proposition 19 tax measure; and voters certainly were personalizing what it might feel like to lose their home, in a matter of minutes, to fire… and of course this connection did not go unnoticed by the folks promoting Prop 19.  

Proposition 19’s backers ran sentimental, heart-tugging ads and even poured cash into the firefighter’s union.  Nonetheless, Proposition 19 only just passed with a little over half of the vote, 51%.
 
Prop 19 is a positive financial opportunity for seniors, victims of natural disasters and fire storms, and for homeowners with disabilities; or residents that happen to be grandparents that are looking to relocate from one area to another in California, to purchase a house nearer their family, specifically their children. And it’s a positive opportunity for older married couples looking to downsize, or to upgrade to a retirement home. 

On the other hand, it is a challenge for many middle class families, that are trying to avoid property tax reassessment; that are keen on establishing a low property tax base; to take advantage of Proposition 13 transfer of property, that wish to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property taxes. It’s important to most families when inheriting property taxes from a parent, to keep parents property taxes, on any property tax transfer with a parent to child transfer or parent to child exclusion. 

Moreover, beneficiaries looking to buyout co-beneficiaries, siblings, are always looking for help in the transfer of property between siblings, to make sure nothing goes wrong — that you can keep your parent’s low Proposition 13 tax base and properly establish a low property tax base when buying out a siblings’ share of a house.

Easy Mistakes to Make, and to Avoid, with Proposition 13 & Prop 19

A few mistakes single homeowners, beneficiaries and property owning families  can fall into quite easily:

1) Some families forget to execute a property LLC in order to protect their  property from property tax reassessment when they pass away.

2) Some heirs or beneficiaries are not aware that they must file a claim for a “reassessment exclusion” or “exemption” under Proposition 13 inside of three years after the passing of a decedent, and therefore may lose their exclusion from property reassessment.  This can be an extremely expensive mistake.

3) Some homeowners mistakenly believe that they are passing on a “principal residence” or “primary residence”  but in fact have not resided full time in that home for many years.  This will cause expensive reassessment issues for any beneficiaries.

4) Some families believe they can pass on an exclusion from reassessment regarding a multi-unit residential property, even though they only reside in part  of the property.  This will cause serious issues for any beneficiary or heir.  

5) Some heirs or beneficiaries may not understand that they must reside in an inherited property only as a primary residence, under Proposition 19, in order to take advantage of a “parent-to-child” exclusion from reassessment, establishing a low property tax base; once a parent passes away.  Non primary residence could trigger reassessment at current market rates.

6) Some families revise the title of their home without consulting their tax lawyer or property tax specialist, possibly triggering property tax reassessment.

7) Some families will include numerous beneficiaries in a living trust, along with  listing their home.  If some of the beneficiaries are not offspring and some are, your actual children, i.e., heirs, may lose their ability to avoid property tax reassessment.

8) Some families may shift an industrial facility they have inherited into an LLC for business purposes, while renting it out; triggering a property tax reassessment by not  filing the proper forms in a timely fashion.

9) A property transfer may occur without proper registration paperwork filed   with the state.  Twenty years later the new property owner may owe twenty years worth of back property taxes at vastly increased rates. This can be a devastating event, causing the current owner to lose their home.

These laws are complicated and different scenarios can be confusing. Mistakes with paperwork or filing procedure errors can trigger reassessment at current market rates; even resulting in the loss of a home.  Another reason why estate lawyers have become so important as of late!

Beneficiary Property Disputes Resolved by Loans to Irrevocable Trusts

Loans to Irrevocable Trusts

Loans to Irrevocable Trusts

Over the past several years, since 2016, we have seen a fair amount of estates, or inheritances in trust, that are embroiled in a dispute or infra-family trust battle over who should be receiving the larger share of cash assets or the largest percentage of an old home left a Mom or a Dad. And we see this pattern repeated over and over again; the same words, the same playbook, similar arguments and similar claims.

Several US firms that provide inheritance loans and cash advance assignments for estate heirs and trust beneficiaries receiving inheritance assets and property have all confirmed, when asked, that up to 75% of the families they have provided advance funds to were mired in infra-family squabbles and disputes over inheritance funds or inherited real estate. 

In California a simple trust loan solution involving Proposition 58, as well as specific tax breaks within Proposition 13, resolve certain beneficiary property disputes.  Only in California is it possible for family members to buyout a co-beneficiary, usually a sibling or several siblings, with the help of established property tax breaks…

Therefore, family disputes caused by sibling disagreements over whether or not they should sell or retain shared inherited property; or what that inherited property value should be, if the assigned tax assessor value is mistrusted, can easily be minimized… Generally, these conflicts are resolved rapidly and satisfactorily if a large loan to an irrevocable trust (working in tandem with CA Proposition 58) is implemented effectively through an experienced trust lender.

If this trust loan process is not implemented properly, the wheels trend to come off the estate wagon, so to speak, and these particular estates typically do not end well.  Whereas, if this trust loan & Prop 58 process is executed correctly beneficiaries end up owning their  inherited property securely, while siblings who insist on selling their inherited property shares end up receiving more money through the trust loan process than if they had received a direct non-trust cash payment from an outside buyer.

Residential and commercial property owners in every single state in America need to research benefits provided by trust lenders furnishing loans to trusts, specifically loans to irrevocable trusts and CA Proposition 13 transfer of property establishing a fixed low base rate in conjunction with a Proposition 58 transfer of parents’ property and transfer of parents property taxes. 

All property owners, for their own good, will eventually have to understand what inheriting parents property, inheriting property taxes, property tax transfer and what the ability to  transfer parents property taxes is really all about.  Plus how to keep parents property taxes at the lowest base rate possible.  Moreover, they must understand why a parent to child transfer, or parent to child exclusion, is so profoundly important and creates the core of property tax relief in California… And we can only hope in other states as well.  If homeowners in other states begin calling and sending emails to their often invisible representatives in Washington DC, this might actually become a reality in the near future – and should, given the economic challenges middle class families are facing, and will continue to face for some time to come.

Goods and services as well as real estate can be incredibly pricey in states like Connecticut, Texas, California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts… these are all expensive states, in terms of day to day living… However, decreasing property taxes down to a more manageable level can change people’s entire outlook on their life, helping middle class families to function more effectively with financial struggles, at least to some degree.

Moreover, the concept of paying yearly taxes on something you purchase and then keep for many years, might be flawed to begin with. What other large purchase you may make continues to charge you fees for ownership, for the rest of the time that you own that item?  Other than insurance, do you continue to pay taxes on a boat you own? An airplane? A car? A motorcycle? None. Only real property.  Perhaps the whole concept of taxing real estate after the initial purchase could use some fresh, new examination.

At any rate, California is still the only state in America where you can avoid property tax reassessment at current market rates; capped at 2% taxation,  as long as you own property inherited from parents… thanks to 1978 CA Proposition 13 enabling the ability to  transfer parents property taxes.  These issues are covered in detail on the California State Board of Equalization, that covers Proposition 58 at great length.  Or you can look at business oriented sites that focus on property tax relief,  such as Michael Wyatt Consulting, or trust loans and Proposition 58 at sites like Commercial Loan Corp;  or go take a look at resource info blogs such as Loan to a Trust, or even a blog like this one,  Property Tax News for information on Proposition 19, Proposition 13, and support or opposition to property tax relief in California, in the present as well as in years past for an accurate historical perspective.