Property Tax Relief for All Americans, Not Just California

Property Tax Relief

Property Tax Relief

A recent survey from Ameriprise Financial:

  • Discovered that 65% of Americans have never written and   signed off on a Will;
  • 77% of Americans plan to leave a financial inheritance for their children or grandchildren;
  • 64% of Americans believe they are actually in a position to even leave an inheritance of any kind to their children;
  • only 50% of aging American parents have an estate plan in place reflecting inheritance assets being left to their children.

Some retirees are committed to leaving money and assets to their children; while other parents see it as “a good thing to do”… yet “not essential” as part of their plan for retirement. Not exactly a sign of high interest on the part of parents, is it, where leaving money to their children are concerned!

However, middle class and even upper middle class families in the United States are understandably concerned about cash flow, and the future of their net worth.  Exacerbated by increasing concern over the variant Covid virus issues; which further discourages  parents from leaving anything at all to their children upon passing away… virus or no virus.

These concerns are causing many families in America to believe that all states in America, not just California, should have tax relief laws benefiting middle class, lower middle class and upper middle class consumers, not just tax cuts and property tax breaks for wealthy residents.

Different state economists are looking specifically at property tax relief for their state, as this is one of the simpler areas to affect in this manner to help free up more consumer cash, and thereby improve their overall economy in this fashion, step by step.

Allowing beneficiaries of trusts and heirs of estates to be able to access genuine property tax relief… with the ability to get a loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust lender, when parents leave a home to them as an inheritance.  This enables these folks to keep their family home, inherited from parents, at a low property tax base.

This process also enables beneficiaries to buyout sibling beneficiaries – or as attorneys put it, “the transfer of property between siblings, without a direct sibling-to-sibling transaction” – by lending money to an irrevocable trust – typically from an irrevocable trust loan lender, who can guide your ability to buyout sibling beneficiaries, and show you how you’re putting a lot more cash in siblings’ pockets when you go through a trust loan to buyout sibling beneficiaries. The fact is, we need to know our rights, with respect to these unique tax breaks. 

Homeowners and beneficiaries in all states should know how to buy out beneficiaries’ shares of inherited property; and how sibling-to-sibling property transfer works. Moreover, all Americans should know how loans to irrevocable trusts can help co-beneficiaries get cash while avoiding selling their share of an inherited house – keeping yearly taxes on property at their parents low tax base.

All middle class Americans should be aware of  the California system, of California advantages of inheriting parents property and thus inheriting property taxes that are lower and can remain low. Property tax transfer is an unknown in so many states…whereas  inheriting a parents’ low property tax base, and avoiding property tax reassessment, as well as being able to buyout sibling beneficiaries with a trust loan – should be known to all, and be a normal state of affairs in all states.  It certainly is a “best kept secret” for wealthy families all across America!

Property owners in other states can surely find the time to start the ball rolling to start adopting these property tax relief laws, plus they should be able to see how these types of yearly savings free up cash for many homeowners to be able to purchase a larger home later on.

This would feed more sales activity and cash back into the local economy, with loans to trusts to avoid property tax reassessment, working in concert with new property tax measure that became active in Feb of 2021, California’s Proposition 19 – which used to be the ultra popular Proposition 58, enabling exclusion from current tax rates with a parent to child property tax transfer – along with Proposition 193 for grandparent-to-grandchild exclusion from high fair market rates.

Designing a system like this that has been so successful in California would keep property taxes at a much more equitable system state by state, whereas right now most states do not have a system in place similar to California are not offering middle and lower middle class families a sustainable system within which they can thrive and increase their spending ability.

Californians would then be able to give back more consistently into the general overall economy – inheriting property taxes they can afford, hence being able to maintain inherited property, while helping to increase overall intra-state consumer spending. Creating positive overall financial connectivity, instead of separate declining family spending capabilities, which do not benefit the whole at all.

Economists in many states now believe that within struggling families, if beneficiaries were able to transfer a low property tax base from parents, with an iron clad right to keep parents property taxes as a part of the inheritance process, from parents and grandparents – middle class, upper middle class, and working families would all benefit greatly, and at the end of the day their state would benefit as a whole as well.

If this system were in place in other states, families would be able to free up more cash to spend on goods and services all across their state, thereby benefiting merchants and other consumer businesses, benefiting their families, so they can spend more, moving more cash into the economy, and so on – benefiting each state economy all the way around in every state that shifted in this direction with property tax relief measures designed to help not only individual homeowners and beneficiaries but each state in general.

Saving money on inheritance based property transfers would (as it does in California) allow middle class and upper middle class beneficiaries who do not wish to sell out to keep their parents’ home in the family, which most middle class inheritors otherwise could not afford to do. And yet, unfortunately, California is still the only state that provides a systemic system to help residents avoid property tax reassessment at current, unaffordable rates.

This sort of property tax relief program… capped at 2% taxation, as offered by the 1978 CA Proposition 13 would allows residents in other states to keep parents property taxes, and inherit property taxes at a low property tax base… having the ability to use a Proposition 19 style property tax transfer, with a parent-child transfer or parent-to-child exclusion.

The Function of a CA County Assessors Office

The Role of the County Assessors Office

The Role of the County Assessors Office

The CA County Assessor’s Job

As we all know, property taxes in California are determined by the value of our property. Every county Tax Assessor has to identify and calculate the value of many different types of taxable property in all 58 counties in California, as well as deal with property tax appeal challenges, as they come into the Assessor’s office.

The Assessor has always been independently elected in California, and is supposed to be completely objective, working for the people (i.e., voters) in each Assessor’s county – to be able to avoid political or financial influence from any governing county body; to avoid coercion from any city, school or district to accelerate the number of county tax assessments in order to generate more property tax revenue.

Principle Tax Assessor Responsibilities

The Assessor is charged with making sure property owners in California are taxed at the appropriate rates; ensuring that county public services are receiving the funding they need to continue functioning. Tax Assessors have to locate real property, land, various taxable structures via maps, which reveal every known land parcel, along with an “assessment roll”, which details improvements on property as well as ownership. It’s worth noting that household furnishings, livestock for the most part, and business inventory are no longer considered “taxable property”.

Four critical duties Tax Assessors must address are:

1. Locating taxable property

2. Identifying the owners of all taxable real estate

3. Determining the assessed value of all taxable property

4. Publishing yearly assessment rolls, plus supplemental reporting

Locating Taxable Real Estate

The Assessor must locate real property, land, various taxable structures via maps, which reveal every known land parcel, along with an “assessment roll”, which details improvements on property as well as ownership. It’s worth noting that household furnishings, livestock for the most part, and business inventory are no longer considered “taxable property”.

Property Assessment:

Since 1978, California’s property tax system (under state constitution Article-13a), is typically referred to as Proposition 13; with an Amendment in 1986 adding Proposition 58 to the process which provided a parent-to-child exclusion, and allowed beneficiaries to buyout property shares inherited by co-Beneficiaries… abruptly replaced and somewhat altered in Feb of 2021 by Proposition 19; although still providing homeowners and beneficiaries with property tax relief from property tax transfer benefits avoiding property tax reassessment with the right to transfer  and keep parents property taxes when inheriting a home, and  thus inheriting parents’ property taxes with the help of a parent-child transfer, and parent-to-child exclusion from current, or “fair market value” tax property rates.

Proposition 13 evaluates real estate at the 1975 “fair market value”, including factoring in heirs inheriting parents property taxes; with yearly increases curtailed at a 2% or the inflation rate, as measured by the CA Consumer Price Index – or whichever is less.

Real property is reappraised by the Assessor for tax purposes only when there is a change in ownership; new construction on property has been completed; new construction has not been finished as of the “lien date” (Jan 1); or market value has dropped below Proposition 13 factored value on the lien date.

Reappraising Real Property in California

When any taxable property is reappraised due to change of ownership a Tax Appraiser will examine sales of similar properties. Or if the property happens to generate revenue, the Appraiser will execute “an income approach”. If the real property in question is original and unique the Appraiser could potentially use the amount of money, or budget, the property owner spent on construction – or perhaps research industry-wide studies on similar construction, and use those costs instead to base the appraisal on.

As soon as that property has been evaluated, the property owner will be contacted and notified of the new property reassessment, or evaluation, and will be given the opportunity to review and discuss with the Assessor. If the property owner happens to disagrees with the reassessment, the property owner can always apply for a property tax appeal or “revised assessment” with the local Board of Assessment Appeals.  Or enlist the help of a property tax appeal firm.

Property like boats or airplanes are assessed every year based on up-to-date Blue Book information distilled from market sales. Trade equipment is also assessed every year, using a formula based on original cost and age of the equipment.

If none of these items apply, the assessed value of a property can be increased by no more than 2% per year. Sale price of a property is considered be its’ market value unless the Assessor can prove convincingly that market value is not accurately reflected by the sale price. The Assessor is also expected to revise the sales price of a property to prove any value that can be attributable to items that are exchanged in a sale, not for cash; perhaps such as barter.

In many respects, Proposition 13 changed the rules in California – as explained by the County of Napa.org website, which tells us:

Prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, the Assessor reappraised all properties on a four-year cycle, with entire neighborhoods receiving increases in value based on recent sales in that area. Under Proposition 13, values are established at a base year, either as of March 1, 1975, or as of a change of ownership or new construction.

Proposition 13 requires an annual inflationary adjustment, not to exceed 2%. A property with a 1975 base-year value of $100,000 has a cumulative adjustment over the past 43 years of 211%, resulting in a current factored base year value of $211,000. Thus the function of the assessor has gone from doing mass appraisal impacting many properties to an individual appraisal of properties that have changed hands or had new construction.

Ownership records are maintained from documents obtained from the County Recorder. Assessor maps are updated as parcels are subdivided or their boundaries adjusted. Building permits are reviewed for accessible new construction and appraisers make discoveries in the field.

County Assessors Offices, Auditors, Auditor-Controllers, Clerks of the Board & Tax Collectors can found in all 58 counties across  the State of California: Here ~ on the BOE Website

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.

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.  

Choosing the Right Trust Lender to Keep Your Parent’s Low Property Tax Base When Inheriting A Home

How to Choosing the Right Trust Lender to Keep Your Parent’s Low Property Tax Base When Inheriting A Home

Choosing the Right Trust Lender to Keep Your Parent’s Low Property Tax Base When Inheriting A Home is Critical.

It would be best, in choosing a trust lender, to pick a firm that is a self-funded private lender, offers a fast approval process, has flexible underwriting terms, has no prepayment penalties, has no minimum monthly interest, and can fund a trust within a 7-10 day period.

This process may look simple when discussing from behind a desk, however it is not as simple as it appears. By leveraging cash from a private loan in conjunction with an agreement between the heirs, executors and trustees can provide a valuable service to families who otherwise would have to forfeit their valuable real estate in the course of estate administration.

Parental property is typically an older home with a little land, and a host of memories and emotional attachments… Beneficiaries of this type of middle class inheritance that don’t execute a personal loan to a trust in conjunction with Proposition 19 to equalize that trust would be viewed as beneficiaries looking to sell their shares in that property simply taking a payment from siblings looking to keep their inherited property.

The outcome of this would be a “transfer between beneficiaries”, without the ability to keep inherited property at a low base rate, that is to say, your parents’ low property tax base, as opposed to a “transfer from parent to child”, the type of transfers between parent and child that enable exclusion from reappraisal. Side-stepping this process would disqualify the transfer from operating under the parent-to-child exclusion. As the BOE interprets it.  And this involves benefits all the way down the line.

Avoiding a loan to an irrevocable trust will disqualify new homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property from being able to keep parents property taxes when inheriting property taxes  during property tax transfers – more specifically being able to keep parents property taxes.  Not utilizing a trust loan with a trust lender will make it impossible to keep inherited property at a low base rate as would be possible through a parent-to-child transfer and parent-to-child exclusion (from paying current property tax rates).

The same goes for the right to transfer parents property taxes alongside inheriting parents property and inheriting parents property taxes to avoid property tax reassessment.  Obviously, a trust loan is well worth not ignoring, when your inheritance calls for it, in concert with Prop 19, formerly Proposition 58.

Middle class and even upper middle class estates and trusts with limited funds, or “liquidity” would lose these critical tax benefits if the estate or trust has no resources available which would allow heirs or beneficiaries to retain the old family home. Hence, the California Board of Equalization has sanctioned third-party real estate loans to trusts to “equalize” the value of beneficiaries’ interests in the trust assets while keeping the allowed property tax exclusion from tax reassessment (at current updated rates).

In a recent interview, noted property tax and trust expert, Michael Wyatt, CEO of Michael Wyatt Consulting, whose expertise includes helping families ensure legal property tax assessment avoidance – summed it up like this:

California was pretty bad before 1978, when Proposition 13 tax relief went into affect. California was raising taxes more than any other state, before 1978. Most seniors – before Prop 13 – were reassessed at present-day rates. And many, many were forced out of their home. They simply could not afford the property tax hikes descending on them. Period. People, especially older people, were being impacted with higher property taxes year after year. And in many cases – with catastrophic results, obviously.

Commercial Loan Corporation reachable at (877)756-4454, loans to trusts give my clients several invaluable benefits. Their terms can be a lot more flexible than an institutional lender like Wells Fargo or Bank of America. Also, Commercial Loan Corp is self funded, and that’s basically why they can extend easier terms to clients. Compliance for both commercial and residential property owners is far less strict.

Commercial Loan Corp doesn’t charge any fees up-front, that’s another great benefit. Plus, they don’t require paying interest on their trust loan in advance. Not only that, there is never a “due-on-sale” clause… that requires the mortgage to be repaid in full when sold; or that all or some of the interest owed must be paid up-front to secure the mortgage. No “alienation clause”… in the event of a property transfer, stating that the borrower has to pay back the mortgage in full before the borrower can transfer the property to another person. There is none of that.

The speed of their trust loans is much faster, typically five to seven days instead of two or three weeks. And if you sold a property outright, without using a trust loan, you have closing costs, legal fees; a commission; etc. It gets very expensive. Going with a firm like Commercial Loan Corp – costs are offset.

When Mr. Wyatt and the CEO of Commercial Loan Corp, Mr. Kerry Smith, speak… people listen.

New CA Parent-Child and Grandparent-Grandchild Property Transfer Rules Under Proposition 19

California Prop 19 Rules for Transferring Property Taxes

California Prop 19 Rules for Transferring Property Taxes

As an updated review of sorts, we would like to revisit certain Proposition 19 issues governing California property taxes. These issues have become particularly important to beneficiaries and new homeowners in particular throughout the state. The following updates address measures that are especially popular with homeowners…

In terms of basics, it’s important to reiterate that under Proposition 19 an inherited home can be transferred from a parent to their child/heir without triggering property tax reassessment, with the right to keep parents CA property taxes. However it’s essential these days to pay more attention to deadlines and filing stipulations — whereas previously this was not as necessary.

Beneficiaries frequently want to know if a parent died prior to Feb 16, 2021, but the change in ownership forms were not filed with the assessor until after Feb 16, 2021 — if the parent-to-child exclusion (from current property tax rates) is applied under former Proposition 58 measures, or if it is applied under current Proposition 19 tax measures, with the ability to keep parents CA property taxes…. The confirmed answer is that an inherited property transfer is calculated by date-of-death to determine the official date of change of ownership.

A good number of trust beneficiaries inheriting real property from a parent, considering their option to buyout siblings’ inherited property shares, often ask trust lenders if a parent is leaving a family home to three siblings/heirs, will that family home be the primary family home of all three heirs — or just the one heir.  And it turns out that only one sibling/heir is expected, under California tax law, to take over that family home as a primary residence. Yet all three siblings still have to be valid heirs.

Beneficiaries and heirs of an active estate, inheriting assets, often ask their attorney about the correct time-frame to establish an inherited family property as their “primary family home”…  Estate attorneys typically confirm that beneficiaries inheriting a house from a parent who wish to keep parents CA property taxes on a property tax transfer, when inheriting property taxes, are expected to establish that house as their “principle family residence” within 12-months of the purchase or transfer of that inherited property, if they want to avoid property tax reassessment using their existing ability to transfer parents property taxes, when inheriting property taxes from a parent. 

Yet heirs are still being able to take advantage of their right to a parent to child property tax transfer on an inherited home  and a  parent-to-child exclusion; even with all these confusing and sometimes baffling new rules for property tax transfers in California  additional intra-family options are available to heirs such as buying out co-beneficiaries’ property shares on a sibling-to-sibling property share while keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home.

If beneficiaries or heirs are inheriting a family farm, they often look to their estate lawyer, or trust lender, for answers… if they are looking to buyout co-beneficiaries to retain the inherited property for themselves – at their parent’s low property tax base – to find out if the Proposition 19 parent-to-child exclusion (from current tax rates) also applies to family farms.

In other words, does a family farm also have to be a principal or primary residence of the inheriting beneficiaries or heirs… And the answer is no, the family farm does not have to be the principal residence of the inheriting parties in order to qualify for the parent-to-child exclusion. A family farm is viewed as any real property which is under cultivation or which is being used for pasture or grazing, or that is used to produce an agricultural product.

Many Californians want to know if Proposition 19 is retroactive; if property transfers that have already benefited from Proposition 58 parent-to-child exclusion benefits are going to be reassessed… And they are informed that Proposition 58 applies to transfers that were implemented on or prior to Feb 15, 2021. The current Proposition 19 ability to keep parents CA property taxes applies only to transfers that take place happen after Feb 16, 2021.

An inherited house, when transferred from a parent to their child/heir – is expected to be the “primary family home” of an heir. Beneficiaries or heirs frequently ask their property tax consultant or attorney how long they need to reside in or maintain their inherited property as “a primary family home” to be able to retain the parent-child exclusion. The answer is unequivocally that the Prop 19 exclusion applies only as long as the heir, or beneficiaries, reside in inherited  property as their “principle family home”.

In the event that a family home is no longer used as the primary residence of a beneficiary inheriting a home, that property should receive the factored base year that applies, had the family home not qualified for exclusion at the time of purchase or transfer. The new taxable value will be the fair market value of the home on the date of inheritance, adjusted yearly for inflation. 

Hence, an updated look at certain new parent-child and grandparent-grandchild property transfer rules and regulations under Proposition 19. 

Is There Support in California to Reverse Potential Property Tax Hikes?

Are Trusts Only for the Wealthy

Are Trusts Only for the Wealthy

California Assembly Constitutional Amendment 9  

As most Californians know by now, CA Assemblyman Kevin Kiley introduced property tax measure ACA 9 to try to return long term property tax relief benefits to their original state.

Specifically, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 9 focuses on strengthening and bolstering parental property tax transfer in California, meaning the parent-child transfer and popular parent-to-child exclusion – which still gives Californians the ability to transfer parents property taxes and  keep parents property taxes when gifting or inheriting parents property.  As well as buying out co-beneficiaries’ property through Proposition 19, formerly Prop 58, in conjunction with a loan to an irrevocable trust; establishing a low property tax base upon inheriting a home… and always bearing in mind California’s long running right to avoid property tax reassessment. 

All California property tax relief rights were, and still are, hand-in-hand with the overall ability to transfer property, parental property tax transfer mainly, during inheritance from parent to child, and a tax break that is still protected by property tax measure Proposition 19 – mainly affecting middle class beneficiaries inheriting property, and mid-income homeowners residing in all 58 counties in California, and yet not fully understood by many residents.

California Proposition 19

Proposition 19 passed on Nov 3rd by a slight majority, following a very effective $40 million promotional campaign mostly paid for by the California Association of Realtors (the C.A.R.);  highlighting property tax breaks that favored residents over the age of 55, as well as sentimental favorites, such as school children and firefighters.  The campaign rivaled anything Madison Avenue could have come  up with!

Soon after Feb 2021, Californians and local media began to discuss Proposition 19 in terms that characterized Proposition 19 parental property tax transfer rights — enabling families to transfer property taxes to and from anywhere in the state — as basically replacing   Proposition 58 property tax breaks, a long-standing property tax measure that was voted into law in 1986 with a 75% voter majority; after a unanimous vote in the Legislature placed it on the ballot. Proposition 58 amended the state constitution to permit parents to transfer a home of any value and up to a $1 million of other property — such as a vacation cabin, rental property or small business – avoiding property reassessment.

Protecting Property Tax Relief & the CA American Dream

“The opportunity to own a home is central to the California Dream, but our state’s affordability crisis has put this beyond the reach of too many working families,” Kiley said. “Now, thanks to a Special Interest deal, Californians face a large and unplanned-for tax increase when they pass down property to their children. ACA 9 restores a vital protection that was in place for 35 years.”

As certain residents and activists try to change certain confusing revisions to property tax relief in California, they also acknowledge positive property tax breaks, such as benefits for property owners over 55 years old, who are eligible for tax assessment transfers; people with severe disabilities, victims of wildfires and other natural disasters; as well as sentimental favorites such as fire-fighters and school children. And who is going to deny eligible homeowners like that.

Positive property tax relief measures allow eligible homeowners to transfer their tax assessments anywhere within the state and allow tax assessments to be transferred to a more expensive home with an upward adjustment. The number of times that a tax assessment can be transferred increased from one to three for persons over 55 years old or with severe disabilities (disaster and contamination victims would continue to be allowed one transfer).

California Assembly Constitutional Amendment 9 focuses on parents and grandparents transferring primary residential properties to their children or grandchildren while avoiding property tax reassessment. ACA 9 also addresses issues revolving around parents and grandparents transferring vacation homes and business properties to their children and  grandchildren; with the first $1 million exempt from re-assessment when transferred.

Limitations on One Hand & Huge Benefits on the Other

Now, it’s true that there are some limitations in certain circumstances. People who want to take advantage of the parent-to-child exclusion and grandparent-grandchild exemption must move into their inherited property as a primary residence, which many residents want to do anyway, and they do have an entire year to move in. 

On the other hand, senior rights being a central issue  for middle class and upper middle class families in California, residents over the age of 55 have a whole suite of new property tax benefits, along with folks with disabilities, and victims of natural disasters such as  earthquakes and floods, as well as forest fires (which are extremely timely these days in California, especially for middle class residents).

When inherited property is used as a primary residence but is sold for $1 million more than the property’s taxable value, an upward adjustment in assessed value would occur. The ballot measure also applied these rules to certain farms. Beginning Feb. 16, 2023, the first $1 million is adjusted each year at a rate equal to the change in the California House Price Index.

Jon Coupal, president of HJTA, weighed in on the new activities designed to reverse any questionable changes to California property tax relief. Mr. Coupal stated: “The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is proud to support ACA 9 to reinstate Propositions 58 and 193, reversing any stealth tax increases on California families!”

No one could have put it any clearer.

Why Consulting With an Attorney, a Property Tax Specialist or Trust Lender is Crucial Now, When Inheriting a Home in California

Inheriting a Home in California

Inheriting a Home in California

When inheriting a home from parents, one should always have a reliable estate attorney, if we’re looking to transfer a parent’s property taxes or we’re inheriting assets in trust or in a standard estate or probate; with an experienced eye on all  proceedings, especially the process of “equalizing trust loan distribution among beneficiaries” if a trust loan is a part of the process – a phrase often used by property tax specialists, and frequently misunderstood by heirs and beneficiaries.

“Equalizing trust loan distribution” simply means that each heir or beneficiary / sibling intent on selling their shares of inherited property  left to them by a parent, will receive an equal amount of money… settling expenses when there is little or no cash in the trust. 

Paying off a debt that a parent or grandparent has on a home can impact beneficiaries looking to borrow, as well as lenders. Having a competent attorney who knows how to structure a trust so that beneficiaries looking to keep inherited property at their parent’s low property tax base can retain that family property… while making sure that co-beneficiaries intent on selling their inherited property get an equal share of cash from a loan to an irrevocable trust.

This is where an experienced trust lender comes into play, preferably a lender that provides trust funding with their own capital, which ensures that interest charged will be as low as possible. Not using expensive money from investors, lenders with their own capital are free to charge as little as they wish, in terms of fees. In fact, a trust lender like this is free to exercise extreme flexibility with underwriting, maintaining particularly reasonable terms and conditions; as well as being able to implement trust loan transactions quickly, in seven to ten days.

It’s always worthwhile to hear what an experienced property tax relief specialist, in this case property tax consultant Michael Wyatt at Michael Wyatt Consulting in Corona CA, has to say about working with an established trust lender that typically provides five and six figure irrevocable trust loans with their own private capital –

A private money lender that loans to irrevocable trusts, applies for and works in tandem with California Proposition 19… So all the beneficiaries [in the family] who are looking to sell their real property shares – for the purpose of facilitating “non pro-rata distribution”, in other words getting an equal share of the entire overall estate – however not necessarily of every asset.

If there is a family that goes to a conventional, pricey lender like Wells Fargo for instance – they will always require adult children, beneficiaries that want to sell an inherited property, to ‘go off-title’, and that always triggers present-day tax reassessment. And that spells an expensive 66.66% tax hike!

If the family in question uses the Commercial Loan Corp, a company we have been using for years… the loan they provide is to a trust, and not to beneficiaries; so there is no title, and no crippling 66.66% property tax reassessment. Their terms can be a lot more flexible than an institutional lender like Wells Fargo or Bank of America. Also, Commercial Loan Corp is self funded, and that’s basically why they can extend easier terms to clients.

Compliance for both commercial and residential property owners is far less strict. Commercial Loan Corp doesn’t charge any fees up-front, that’s another great benefit. Plus, they don’t require paying interest on their trust loan in advance. Not only that, there is never a “due-on-sale” clause… that requires the mortgage to be repaid in full when sold; or that all or some of the interest owed must be paid up-front to secure the mortgage. No “alienation clause”… in the event of a property transfer, stating that the borrower has to pay back the mortgage in full before the borrower can transfer the property to another person. There is none of that.

Having access to private capital, along with seasoned advice, and expertise from a property tax consultant and a trust lender on how to transfer a parent’s property taxes,  becomes even more crucial in an inheritance scenario when a family is looking to keep a family home for a long period of time. 

California Proposition 19, which was (voted into law in 1986) formerly California Proposition 58, can enable a parent-to-child home transfer of a “principal residence” to be excluded from property tax reassessment even if associated with a “change in ownership”.  Which could trigger reassessment of property taxes, often by accident, resulting in  property tax reassessment – if not for experienced guidance from a trust lender and, frequently, from a property tax consultant or tax attorney as well, guiding the trust loan process and  property tax transfer; working in concert with Proposition 19 and parent-to-child exclusion (from high current  market rates).

Advice from property tax transfer specialists like this generally includes guidance for beneficiaries and new home owners within the process of being able to transfer a parent’s property taxes, plus showing inheritors what they need to do to keep parents property taxes when inheriting property and subsequently inheriting property taxes from a parent.

Michael Wyatt Consulting may be contacted at (951) 264-6152 for questions on retaining a parent’s low property tax base; and how to transfer a parent’s property taxes, through CA Proposition 13; or with questions about getting a loan to a trust, in conjunction with CA Proposition 19.

 

How the Role of a Trust Lender Can Impact Beneficiaries in California

Trust Loans in California

How to get a trust loan in California

As most Californians know, property tax measure Proposition 13, voted into law in 1978, capped property tax rates at 1%–2%. Property could now be reassessed on a property transfer from parent to child, with the right to transfer parents property taxes protected by the parent-to-child exclusion which was folded into tax measure Proposition 58, voted into law in 1986, and as you know is now revised, having morphed into 2021 Proposition 19 property tax law, with new rules for property tax transfers in California…

This continued the exemption for property transfers between parent and child, avoiding property tax reassessment with the right to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property taxes from a parent; with the ability to keep parents property taxes long-term with this type of standard Proposition 19 protected property tax transfer, parent to child transfer and of course parent to child exclusion.

When there is only one heir, child of the parent, property transfer is relatively simple, knowing you have the right to transfer parents property taxes involving only one heir.  Conflict typically surfaces only when there are two or more siblings inheriting property shares… with one heir looking to retain the parent’s home, while the other heir or heirs insist on selling off their inherited property shares; generally calling for a “non-pro-rata” trust distribution, meaning that each heir with an interest in the inherited property receives an equal proportion of the entire estate with the help of a trust lender and a Prop 19 trust loan – however not necessarily of each asset. It’s important to note that non-pro-rata distribution by a trustee can have a major impact on property taxes.

Not using a Prop 19 trust loan solution, the use of personal funds to pay off a sibling co-beneficiary’s interest in a home would be viewed as a “change in ownership” therefore the outcome of this transaction would trigger property reassessment of that beneficiary’s inherited property share. If there are two heirs, each having inherited 50% of the property, the remaining 50% would be open to property tax reassessment. On the other hand, if there were three beneficiaries and only 1/3 of the property were retained, 2/3 beneficiary interest being bought out – 2/3 of the property would be vulnerable to property tax reassessment.

However, with the help of a trust lender funding an irrevocable trust, buying out the beneficiary or beneficiaries looking to sell off inherited shares – the fact that the trust is actually borrowing the funds to equalize distribution to the siblings that are selling out, and funding is not in fact distributed to the sibling or siblings themselves – property tax reassessment is successfully avoided.

For example, let’s examine the Anderson family in North Hollywood, who owns a home valued at $800,000, free and clear of any debt. In other words the family owns the house outright. Assessed value is $100,000. Let’s say, for the sake of argument that sibling Nina insists on selling the home, and wants a cash for her share; while another sibling, Jasper, is determined to keep the home.

(Option A) Jasper cleans out his savings account and pays out $400,000 to buy out Nina’s inherited property shares. This results in a “change of ownership” with respect to Jasper’s 50% property buyout, and the assessed outcome is a 50% property tax reassessment with a significant increase in property taxes.

(Option B) Jasper enlists the help of a trust lender, who provides a $400,000 loan to an irrevocable trust, along with getting approval to allow the trust loan to work in conjunction with Proposition 19; enabling Jasper to keep his parent’s low Proposition 13 protected property tax base. The third-party trust lender also sees to it that that funds are distributed equitably to Nina – in fact with more cash than any outside buyer would be likely, realistically, to offer – with no change in ownership, and no property reassessment; and therefore no property tax hike. The trustee at this point transfers the entire property to Jasper who plans to pay off the $400,000 loan to the irrevocable trust by cashing out a life insurance policy.

Thad Farrell, Proposition 19 / trust loan account manager (Commercial Loan Corporation at 877-756-4454) at the Commercial Loan Corp trust lending firm in Newport Beach, sums up the process as follows:

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! 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 looking to sell out receives approximately $15,000 extra in a cash trust distribution when compared to selling the home to a regular buyer; because they avoid costly realtor and real estate sale expenses. 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… Each beneficiary keeping the inherited home winds up saving on average $6,200 (each) in yearly property taxes. So do the math, for starters. Whereas, if the property is reassessed – the cost can be very high.

At the end of the day, there are positive emotional outcomes from this process as well as financial savings and extra funds… However the key result is the fact that when everyone walks away from using a trust loan to take advantage of the proposition 19 parent to child property tax transfer, they all understand that they have just completed a win-win transaction… In other words, unlike most business transactions where there is often a winner and a loser – in this scenario everybody wins and no one loses.

 

Helpful Advisors During a Property Tax Transfer on an Inherited Home

California Property Tax Transfer

California Property Tax Transfer

Transferring A California Property Tax Base On An Inherited Home

If you’re a member of one of the many families who owns real property in California – it would be wise to understand how much Prop 13 and Proposition 19  can affect property tax reassessment, no matter where you live in the state. 

In fact, it’s never been more important than now to understand how profoundly these property tax relief measures can impact your life – plus how important it is to do everything correctly when dealing with property tax breaks like Proposition 19 and Proposition 13.

Number One Strategy: Avoid Making Mistakes!

For whatever reason, a fair amount of residents do not fully understand how these tax breaks work, and how to make them work.  The problem is, families often trigger reassessment of their property taxes by accident, due to a variety of reasons – refusing to hire an estate attorney simply to save money; faulty data; or mistakes filing information; missing document deadlines… so on and so forth.

Consequently, what can be lost can be significant… such as the ability to avoid property tax reassessment, to miss out on property tax breaks such as parent-child transfer and the parent-to-child exclusion; the right to transfer parents property taxes, to keep parents property taxes after a CA property tax transfer, when inheriting property taxes.

It’s not difficult to mishandle a transfer of property when inheriting a home, or mishandle the drafting of a trust in such a way that expectations towards a cap on property taxes are disappointed. Of course, these types of errors and subsequent property tax  reassessment brings great happiness to the parties responsible for collecting property taxes all over California.

Families that are concerned with making sure these processes go smoothly generally enlist advice and/or the services of a real estate law firm or estate attorney such as Rachelle Lee-Warner, Esq. at Cunningham Legal, or a property tax consultant like Michael Wyatt Consulting, or perhaps a Trust Lender such as Commercial Loan Corp.

Proposition 19 and Revisions to California Property Tax Relief

It is difficult to avoid the fact that property tax breaks in California have been impacted, one way or the other, by Proposition 19; which was voted into law Nov 2020, becoming active on Feb. 16, 2021.

Under Proposition 19, a parent can transfer their primary residence and low property tax base to their children (i.e., heirs) — allowing  offspring to move into an inherited home rather quickly, within 12-months, as a principle residence.  Although, if the home is valued at more than $1,000,000 it may be reassessed, with an impact on the parent-to-child exclusion from current tax rates.  On the other hand, if you’re over 55, physically impaired, or a victim in some way of the frequent wildfires California has been experiencing, or some other natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake — you can be a recipient of numerous property tax breaks on top of CA property tax transfer (discussed in detail elsewhere within this Blog).

However, beneficiaries of parental property have other options, such as working with a trust lender such as Commercial Loan Corp, for example, in addition to having expertise in CA property tax transfer,  the ability to provide funding to an irrevocable trust, in order to buyout co-beneficiaries looking to sell off their inherited property shares, as well as establishing a permanently low property tax base. If you think you may benefit from a Proposition 19 property tax transfer on an inherited home, you can reach Commercial Loan Corporation at 877-464-1066 for a free benefit analysis.