New Property Tax Relief Laws & Belief in the CA Legislature

Property Tax Transfers

Property Tax Transfers

Can California rely on Property Tax Exclusions from Prop 19?

Despite the growing waves of criticism and anxiety from residents in California, regarding Proposition 19, given all the cheer-leading from the California realtor community, more or less led by the CA Realtor’s Association – state sponsored public relations continues to convince us how fabulous Proposition 19 truly is.

We are constantly reminded that, despite certain obvious limitations affecting homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property from their parents, we do have new property  tax exclusions from Prop 19.   Proposition 19 is providing us with tremendous property tax breaks which did not exist previously, with Proposition 58 tax relief.

Truth?  Publicity?  Or happy talk… 

Supposedly, despite new property tax exclusions from Prop 19,  the state will see an extra yearly revenue of a billion dollars plus, to help schools in towns and cities – although the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a little short on concrete specifics and details, in terms of how much revenue is actually expected to come in overall from these new property tax laws; and specifically how much money will go to fire departments, and how much will be allocated to help seniors and the elderly… and homeowners with serious infirmities. 

Moreover, Proposition 19 also seems to be rather fuzzy, with respect to anticipated property tax revenue that is supposedly going towards balancing budgets – possibly with provisions to step up the state’s recovery from Pandemic driven financial losses.

Additionally, beyond property tax exclusions from Prop 19 that we already know about, and hope will be consistent – extra tax revenue from Proposition 19 is supposedly expected to furnish all sorts of other “significant added protections” for CA residents – although proponents of Prop 19 as well as BOE are extremely vague, as far as articulating precisely what these “protections” might be every year.  Again – fact based info dissemination?  Or simply PR happy talk…

Prop19 revenue for city and county fire departments & schools

Proponents of Proposition 19 singled out supporters of Proposition 13 property tax relief as creators of “tax schemes” and “deceptive practices” – “costing local governments and schools up to $1.5 billion every year” – without describing exactly what those “tax schemes” and “deceptive practices” actually are… And what those numbers that  supposedly cost the school system a small fortune really look like – above and beyond vague projections designed to scare tax payers half to death.  

We also frequently hear about “unfair tax loopholes” used by supposed “East Coast investors” and “celebrities” or “wealthy non- California residents” as well as “trust fund heirs” – who are perpetually unnamed, wealthy property owners, who supposedly avoid paying “their fair share of property taxes on vacation homes, income properties, and beachfront rentals they own in California.”

An obvious reference to the Lloyd Bridges family, the only family in 40 years that has been named as property tax perpetrators of the above so-called violations, whose heirs happened to inherit a nice beach home, using Proposition 13 to cap property taxes at 2%… subsequently renting the home out at $16,000 per month to vacationers from out of state. (As opposed to residing in the property as a “primary residence”.)

No other family has ever been named and singled out as using Proposition 13 for such “nefarious purposes”.  It appears that the justification for Proposition 19 limitations were based on this one family… this one inheritance.

Maintaining the spirit of Proposition 13 and Prop 58

Proponents of Proposition 19 insist that their favorite tax measure will “continue to preserve the intent of Proposition 58 and Proposition 193” – keeping family homes affordable when parents and grandparents pass on their family home to children and grandchildren to use  as a  “primary residence”. 

As we all know, this is partly true, and where  limitations are concerned… partly not true. Fortunately, beneficiaries can still     use a parent-to-child exclusion in conjunction with Proposition 19.

When inheriting property while keeping a low property tax base,  smart beneficiaries are still able to buyout property tax shares from siblings, with advice from a Property Tax Consultant, and funding from a Trust Lender such as Commercial Loan Corp.

We continue to hear about the $1 billion per year in Prop 19 generated revenue that is going to fire departments and unions, school systems and local governments.  We also hear about that revenue somehow being used for emergency services, public hospitals, general healthcare, homeless folks, and housing projects. However… again, no specifics. Just general allusion to a lot of hopeful initiatives. 

At the same time Californians hope that they will be able keep parents property taxes, and take advantage of property tax transfers to retain a low property tax rate from this parent-to-child transfer upon inheriting property from parents, while inheriting property taxes… to avoid property tax reassessment – typically through a parent-child transfer.

Homeowners and beneficiaries are waiting to see what specific applications will be readily available to them:

• to limit property tax increases for victims of wildfires, replacing damaged or destroyed property; limiting damage from wildfires on homes through supposed funding for fire protection and emergency response.

• to cap property tax increases on family homes used as a primary residence by protecting the right of parents and grandparents to pass on their family home to children and grandchildren as a primary residence.

• to take advantage of supposedly “thousands of housing opportunities” by making homes available for first-time homeowners and families in all 58 counties across the state of California.

Ultimately, Californians are taking for granted that there is a cap on property tax increases for primary residences for homeowners over 55 years old, people with severe disabilities, and victims of natural disasters or wildfires by removing county restrictions – apparently allowing these residents to locate a home that “better fits their needs”.

State leadership may be asking residents to stretch their trust a long way; without any iron-clad guarantees. Just a long list of top-down assurances. And residents as well as estate attorneys and tax lawyers, as well as accountants, are wondering, going forward into a murky future, what they can question… and what they can really rely on.

CA Parent to Child Property Transfer & Buying Out an Inherited Home From Siblings

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment on an Inherited Home

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment on an Inherited Home for Californians

Most beneficiaries in California favor a parent to child transfer to avoid property tax reassessment.

As long as a transferred home is, initially, a primary family residence and the offspring receiving gifted or inherited property is moving in as a primary residence,  plus an  exclusion is claimed inside 12 months from change in ownership… remaining aware of the fact that the first $1,000,000 is not reassessed.

At any rate, despite certain limitations, the financial savings from this process  are genuine savings for beneficiaries inheriting property – avoiding property tax reassessment – and for many children of parents leaving a beloved family home to them.  This often makes the difference between being able to keep that family home, or losing it – frequently at a financial loss.

Plus, besides trust distribution to co-beneficiaries to keep an inherited home – also being able to take advantage of property tax breaks such as the right to transfer parents property taxes during a property tax transfer, with the legal right to keep parents property taxes basically forever… after inheriting property taxes through a standard parent-child transfer, and parent-to-child exclusion!

We also have to remember that, in 2022 California, a loan to an irrevocable trust, working in conjunction with Proposition 19, allows a beneficiary to buyout inherited property shares from siblings looking to sell their inherited property… thereby speeding up the trust distribution process. 

Moreover, an irrevocable trust loan also generates a much higher profit margin for beneficiaries selling their inherited property shares, by avoiding expensive home prepping for a sale, as well as avoiding a costly 6% realtor commission, expensive legal fees, and other pricey closing costs.  All in all, avoiding property reassessment, property tax hikes, and higher expenses  in general for all concerned.

When a trust loan is used to process trust distribution to co-beneficiaries, on average each beneficiary or sibling gets an additional $15,000 in distribution as opposed to selling the home to a conventional buyer. The family member keeping a family home also saves money – generally $6,500 or more per year in property tax savings by avoiding property tax reassessment on an inherited property.

That’s why many families inheriting a home from parents go to a reliable trust lender to be able to take full advantage of Proposition 19 tax benefits. Beneficiaries and homeowners continue to take advantage of Proposition 19 and Proposition 13 and basic property tax transfers in California and related tax breaks… keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home – inheriting property taxes at a low rate from parents.

Saving beneficiaries many thousands of dollars, this is often a life-saver – and could, in many ways, be considered a final act of parental affection, from parent to child.

Understanding New Prop 19 Rules & Calculating Taxable Value

California Proposition 19 Property Tax Transfer

California Proposition 19 Property Tax Transfer

Parent-to- Child and Grandparent-to-Grandchild Transfers

Prop 58 & Prop 193 allowed parents, and in certain qualified cases grandparents, to transfer their existing property assessments of a “principal” or “primary” residence of any value  without  triggering property reassessment, which is generally required upon a change in ownership – even when real property was used as a rental property by [offspring] beneficiaries.

Prop 58 & Prop 193 enabled assessments of inherited residential or commercial property up to $1,000,000 – covering additional real estate being gifted to, or inherited by, an heir.

Now, under CA Proposition 19 (as of Feb 16, 2022), parents and grandparents can leave their home, with Proposition 13 base year value intact, to their children or grandchildren – as long as inherited property was the primary residence of the parents or grandparents – as well as the primary residence of  the beneficiaries moving into the home that is now being inherited…

Moreover, a beneficiary has plenty of time to move into an inherited home as a primary residence (12 months), plus a good deal of time to file a Homeowners’ Exemption (one year) to qualify for a parent-child or  exclusion.

A Prop 19 exclusion from reassessment of a primary residence of  a parent or grandparent, keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home, plus all updated requirements, qualify beneficiaries for these types of base-year-value transfers; avoiding property tax reassessment and enabling these new homeowners with the right to transfer property between siblings through a loan to an irrevocable trust; plus all the usual property tax relief bells & whistles that go along with property tax transfer. 

Naturally, this includes the right to transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes by inheriting property taxes generally through a parent-child transfer and parent-to-child exclusion (from paying currently reassessed property taxes).


Selling An Old Home – Distributing Cash Equally Among Heirs

A trust loan from a trust lender, to create equal cash distribution for co-beneficiaries looking to sell off their inherited property, can help those beneficiaries  become sole primary owners of an inherited residence.  Moreover, a primary residence homeowner in California over age 55 can transfer a low property tax base to a “replacement residence” (that is also a primary abode).

In order to qualify for a CA Prop 19 exclusion from reassessment (of your property taxes) – at the same time keeping your parents’ low property tax base – distribution of your trust funds to all beneficiaries have to be equal… especially when it comes to beneficiaries that are selling their inherited property shares to a co-beneficiary inheriting the same property. Each sibling must get the same amount whether it is cash, equity or other assets – to qualify for a Prop 19 exclusion from reassessment.

Many times the trust or estate will not have enough cash or other assets to make an equal distribution.  In these situations the trust or estate can borrow the money from a third party (not the person taking the property) and use the loan proceeds to pay off the other siblings’ share.

A Commercial Loan Corp Trust Loan Calculator will demonstrate “how long it will take for the property tax savings to cover the costs of a loan from a third party. One needs to be fairly certain they will live in the home longer than the time it takes to break-even on third party loan costs or have a plan to transfer the low tax base to another property after the sale of the parents’ home.”

What is Proposition 13?

What is Proposition 13?

What is Proposition 13?

Proposition 13 (i.e., People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation) is an amendment to the California Constitution, and was passed by voters in California on June 6, 1978 by close to two-thirds of the voting public. Proposition 13 was designed to decrease property taxes on homes, businesses, and farms by 57% – preventing property tax rates from exceeding 1% of a property’s market value. Property tax reassessment would no longer be able to increase by more than 2% per year, except when a property was sold to a valid buyer.

Boiling Point for the Middle Class & the Elderly

Before the advent of 1978’s Proposition 13, property taxes were notorious in terms of being completely out of control in California, in  all 58 counties. Reports and complaints of, for want of a better term, taxation abuse – were mounting.  Homeowners, especially elderly residents, were losing their homes due to the simple fact that they were unable to pay their rising property taxes. And yet state and local government officials did absolutely nothing to help.

Stories swept across the state like wildfire describing how senior retirees, military veterans, and elderly widows all living on modest fixed incomes were literally being thrown onto the street for late payments; or simply being unable to pay off increasingly high property tax hikes.

By the late 1970s,  property tax burdens were unbearable in the state of California; and just as important – unsustainable for working families, middle class, and even upper middle class homeowners. Obviously, wealthy and ultra wealthy residents could absorb pretty much any tax hike. But that’s merely 1%  or 2% of the entire state.

For elderly middle class folks dependent on fixed incomes, the outcome in the 1970s was frequently a forced sale of their beloved family home – typically the only asset of any real value they owned. And that was what Californians saw month after month, year after year – retirees and middle class working families either selling off their home, their most precious asset, or giving it up to the tax man against their will.

There was even a story circulating around of an elderly woman having a heart attack due to stress while visiting the Los Angeles Tax Assessor’s office, when she couldn’t convince the authorities to take her seriously and lower her tax bill…

Another good example of the state’s inflexible, intractable position on property taxes is a story from the 1920’s concerning a retired couple, as reported in the Newhall Signal newspaper in Newhall, CA. Because this elderly married couple lived in a small home, close to an upscale brand new apartment building, the County Tax Assessor decided to reassess the couple’s tiny house at the highest possible tax rate – as if the land their little home was on would soon boast a massive high-end hotel!  Their small home was taxed at $1,800 per year, regardless of the fact that the retired couple’s total fixed income was $1,900 per year.

Hence, support for Proposition 13 swept the state and filled local newspapers with headlines and reports on this urgent statewide  phenomena. Californians began thinking seriously about what it actually might be like to not be financially crippled  every year by mounting property taxes. 

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association Viewpoint

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association recently wrote: “The San Francisco Assessor was taking bribes to keep business taxes down below the market value. He went to jail. To make sure the valuations were correct and equal in San Francisco, the new assessor used computers.  When a property sold in a neighborhood,  all the surrounding properties found new tax bills reflecting a new market value, resulting in great increases in taxes for everyone. Property taxes went up so quickly in San Francisco that bumper stickers soon appeared pleading: ‘Bring back the crooked assessor!’

The private sector of the economy fared beautifully in the aftermath of Proposition 13, but some people questioned whether this private sector success might not have come at the expense of the public sector. Opponents of the tax cuts voiced concerns that the tax reductions might have gone too far requiring excessive program cuts. Vital services, they said, would suffer, schools would have to close, and fire and police protection would no longer be adequate. Yet in spite of the precipitous fall of the state’s average tax rate, state and local revenues did not fall proportionately. The total general revenue for local governments fell only 1% in the year following Proposition 13.  By FY 1980 revenue had risen more than 10 % the FY 1978 level. The tax base expanded by more than enough to offset the reduction in tax rates.”

Tax Hikes No More

Basically, Proposition 13 managed to lower property taxes by assessing properties at their 1976 value, while capping annual increases at 2% – not allowing property reassessment of any new base year value – with the exception of the home being sold to a new owner… or on the completion of any new construction on the house. 

As of 1978, to everyone’s relief and delight, all residential and commercial real estate owned by an individual, a family, or a corporation was  impacted by new  Proposition 13 property tax    relief measures such as transferring property taxes in California, namely a parent to child property tax transfer or parent-child exclusion  for all types of property  owners – and protected property tax transfers and the right to transfer parents property taxes  when inheriting property and inheriting property taxes. 

Beneficiaries could keep parents property taxes basically forever, or as long as they resided in their inherited residence as a primary home. This was what everyone had been waiting for, and was desperately hoping for.  With added amendments later on, such as the wildly popular Proposition 58 in 1986, with all sorts of California beneficiaries getting trust loans to buyout property from siblings, while locking in a low Proposition 13 based property tax base.

Another lesser known component to this tax measure, that many families did not even take note of, was an important new step that required a two-thirds majority in both CA Legislative houses to implement any further increases of any state tax rates or revenue charged, which included highly sensitive income tax rates.

A two-thirds majority vote was also imposed on local elections affecting local governments who otherwise,  perhaps on a Friday evening  blitz when no one was looking, would happily increase some sort of special interest tax, before the other party could stop them. A two-thirds majority vote would prevent that from happening going forward.  So Proposition 13 wasn’t just about homeowners getting the right to transfer parents property taxes.

For the first time in the state of California, taxation was capped at a strict 2% rate.  For the first time property tax relief (in practice as opposed to lip service), was accessible for middle class, upper middle class and working families – with its’ foundation built on a “base year value” for property tax reassessment, with enforced limits to state property tax rates and limits to increases through arbitrary property reassessment.

California Base Year Values

CA Proposition 13 locked in three critical restraints for property tax reassessment: (a) All real estate now had non-negotiable iron-clad base year values; (b) restricted rates limited property reassessment to a 2% yearly increase; and (c) a property tax limit of 1% of the assessed value was imposed along with the right to transfer parents property taxes and the parent-child exclusion.

Once Proposition 13 passed, property assessments for 1978-1979 were required to be “rolled back” to 1975-1976 property values, establishing the first base year values in California. Properties that have not sold or undergone new construction since February 1975 are viewed as having a 1975 base year value.

Reliable Property Tax Expectations

Because of Proposition 13, for the first time, certainty in taxation lay in the hands of the taxpayer instead of the tax collector. Proposition 13 set up an acquisition value system that treats all homeowners alike in that they pay 1% of the market value established at the time of purchase; limiting increases to 2% per year – creating a an even playing field for all property owners.

What is Involved Transferring CA Property Taxes from a Parent to an Heir?

Thad Farrell - Proposition 19 Property Tax Specialist

Thad Farrell – Proposition 19 Property Tax Specialist

Mr. Thaddeus Farrell is an Account Manager at Commercial Loan Corporation at Newport Beach, California.  He arrives from a long, successful  career in  mortgage sales, and is considered a rising star in Trust & Estate Lending.  We were fortunate to have Mr. Farrell agree to share his views on property tax relief, Proposition 19, and irrevocable trust loans for new homeowners and beneficiaries in California…
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Property Tax News:  As an account manager with Commercial Loan Corp who do you generally communicate with, on a daily basis?

Thaddeus Farrell:  I usually talk to attorneys, licensed fiduciaries, trust or estate administrators, Conservators, trustees, beneficiaries and executors.  Mostly attorneys however, regarding their clients’ need for lower property taxes. Frequently, I follow up with attorneys… getting them on the same page.  Part of my job is to help them help their clients.  In terms of driving interest from lawyers or CPAs I may be talking to.  It’s case by case, and timing, as to what an existing client is in need of at this or that very moment.

Property Tax News:  In your opinion sir – what is the most  important  way Proposition 19 helps families inheriting property in California?

Thaddeus Farrell:  Overall, to assist families with their property taxes, transferring property taxes through Proposition 19 as well as helping with buying out co-beneficiaries’ inherited property shares.

Property Tax News:  What is it precisely that these California families are trying to accomplish?

Thaddeus Farrell:  Simply put, to transfer their parents’ low property tax base.  Look at it this way – property reassessment can cripple a family financially.  I look at it like this – expenses are a part of life, and when you inherit a family home, if the property is reassessed at current rates, those expenses will usually go sky high.  Most middle class people can’t afford to pay that type of tax hike.  They want to take advantage of Proposition 19 and a trust loan, transferring CA Property Taxes from a Parent to an Heir tax break, to avoid property tax reassessment, and move into an inherited home within a year as a principle residence, which was their parents’ principle residence formerly protected by Proposition 58 and Prop 13. 

Property Tax News:  How does Commercial Loan Corp fit in, put very simply?

Thaddeus Farrell:  We guide beneficiaries  through a process that will maintain their parents’ low property tax base.  Usually siblings that want to retain inherited property from parents  come  to us first, generally after being referred to us by a law firm.  Middle class families that can’t  afford to pay reassessed taxes on an inherited home… Which pretty much sums up most families these days!

Property Tax News:  What do you discuss with these attorneys that you speak to  about Proposition 19 and a trust loan saving their clients money on property taxes?

Thaddeus Farrell:  I make it very clear right away with attorneys that siblings inheriting a home have two options.  They can sell or keep their inherited property.  In other words, your family has to make up their mind – what they want to do, sell or keep. Selling it is far more expensive. By keeping the home, each beneficiary receives approximately $15,000 extra in a cash trust distribution when compared to selling the home because they avoid costly realtor and real estate sale expenses. The child beneficiary keeping the inherited home winds up saving on average $6,200 in yearly property taxes.  

Property Tax News: Is it really true that residents save that much?

Thaddeus Farrell:  Absolutely!  A realtor typically charges 6%, there can be costs to prepare the home for sale and closing costs such as title, escrow or assistance with buyer closing costs on top of that… So do the math there, for starters. If the property is reassessed – the cost can be very high.   

Property Tax News:  And we understand you treat everyone the same, regardless of their property’s value, or their net worth.

Thaddeus Farrell: That is correct.  We extend the same commitment to everyone.  I for one treat each customer like I would treat my brother or my sister.  We have never had one unhappy customer in the last three hundred  transactions I’m aware of. Five star reviews, five-star Google ratings, no complaints!  

Property Tax News:  Thaddeus, if someone needs assistance with California Proposition 19, a bridge loan to make an equal distribution to an estate or a trust loan to an irrevocable trust, how can they contact you?

Thaddeus Farrell:  They can contact us at (877) 756-4454; we are always happy to help.

Property Tax News:  Great.  Well, thanks for talking with us today.

Thaddeus Farrell:  My pleasure.  Glad to do it. 

If you have questions regarding your options upon inheriting a home from parents – transferring their low property tax base to your new principle residence –  Commercial Loan Corp at (877) 756-4454 to speak with a Trust Fund Loan Manager or Property Tax Savings specialist.