PART ONE: The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families & Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act

California Proposition 19

California Proposition 19

Otherwise known as Proposition 19, the new tax measure, more or less replacing Proposition 58, implemented changes to the parent-to-child and grandparent-to-grandchild exclusion – with the base year value transfer measure going into effect April 1, 2021.

Although we’ve covered these rules and regulations previously in this blog it’s always worthwhile to hear what yet another California property tax specialist has to say, if only to verify what others have described as viable revisions to long standing property tax relief in California – so critically important to middle class and upper middle class residents.

Viewpoint From Los Angeles Tax Assessor Jeff Prang

So let’s take a quick look at what senior Los Angeles Tax Assessor Mr. Jeff Prang has to say about these changes to property tax relief in California, and see if his viewpoint is consistent with, or otherwise deviates from, other noted tax experts and property tax specialists in the state, some that we have reviewed or actually spoken to over the past tumultuous year.

Mr. Prang confirms that Proposition 19 tax base transfers allow seniors, age 55 and up, to transfer the taxable value of their existing home to a new “replacement home of any value” – anywhere in the state of California – up to 3-times, instead of only once, as previous property tax regulations allowed, prior to Feb 2021.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Prang mentions the former Proposition 50 and Proposition 171, and looks at the improvements brought about by Proposition 19 to those tax measures – concerning personal harm and property damage from natural disasters, or wildfire; and the subsequent transfer of base year value of a principal residence to any other county, which was much more limited before Proposition 19 took effect .

Mr. Prang also goes out of his way to point out that Proposition 19 allows homeowners to purchase a replacement home of greater value than their original home and transfer their tax base with an adjustment to account for the value difference in cases of homes destroyed or severely damaged by wildfire, which is ironically running rampant in 2021, or some other natural disaster such as flooding or an earthquake.

Parent-to-Child and Grandparent-Grandchild Property Transfer

As of Feb 2021, most tax experts and property tax consultants agree  that in order to inherit a low assessment of a parent or grandparent’s property, under Prop 19, some new conditions must be met, and estate attorneys must get up to speed with these conditions – such as getting in the habit of informing clients that an inherited home has to be moved into within 12 months, retaining a parent’s low property tax base; as primary residence, plus to qualify for a base year value the inherited home must have been the primary residence of the parent or grandparent leaving the property to heirs.

In fact, there is now so much new information for estate and tax attorneys to get up to speed with notably inheriting property while retaining a parent’s low property tax base, to avoid property tax reassessment that many law firms more frequently,  lately, have  been sending clients who are inheriting real property from parents to a trust lender, as those particular lenders bridge the knowledge gap – and serve a purpose lawyers cannot serve, which is providing funding to irrevocable trusts if you as a beneficiary want to keep your parent’s home and, most importantly, retain their low property tax base – buying out sibling property shares while keeping your inherited home at a low Proposition 13 tax base… Basically, taking advantage of Proposition 19 (previously Proposition 58 benefits) in conjunction with an irrevocable trust to buyout one or more siblings’  property shares.  Sounds simple, however it isn’t.

General consensus of tax experts in California is that the CA State Board of Equalization stipulates a concrete set of property tax rules and regs, despite the fact that there are still areas concerning Proposition 19 that remain vague and oddly non-specific, which is still causing accountants and other tax professionals a good deal of distress; and for their business and high net worth clients even more concern – particularly when there is a great deal of money at stake.

 >> Click Here for Part Two…

PART TWO: Coronavirus Crisis in California Motivating State Politicians to Push Harder for “Split-Roll” Property Tax

California Property Tax Changes

California Property Tax Changes

Even without California’s ill-advised Split-Roll property tax measure looming over every renter and residential as well as commercial property owners’  head throughout the sunshine state — California has already been grappling with lopsided expenditures such as over-spending on state & local government  salary increases, healthcare benefits, and lavish vacation time… Rather than budgeting properly for public works that would actually be beneficial for regular every-day Californians rather than folks with elite government positions.

Residents of this state are already dealing with unusually high taxation (other than property taxes), and other challenging regulations that make it difficult as it is for California businesses to compete effectively in a number of important and popular industrial and commercial playing fields.  

Let’s face facts… an $11 billion Split-Roll property tax increase  on business and commercial property owners would, without question, prevent businesses based in California from hiring new employees;  and would make it more difficult to retain existing employees.  

And you can forget about Christmas bonuses and/or timely raises, not to mention maintaining proper levels of health coverage!  It’s obvious that stability and predictability provided by 1978 Proposition 13 property tax relief has helped businesses in California to compete on a national level regardless of the fact that doing business in California is expensive to begin with!

Even if correctly managed, tax assessments will mirror the ups and downs of  the real estate market in  California— resulting in volatility, the way things were prior to 1978 when Proposition 13 was passed into law.  During low economic times this would most likely end up leading the state into an even more severe loss of revenue. 

If you think back… during the 2008— 2009 recession, commercial property values dropped by over 35%, mainly due to the economic recession.  These abrupt and  unpredictable economic shifts are what motivated unease and unhappiness among California property owners before 1978, and ultimately led to the big win pushed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and others, leading ultimately to the passage of  Proposition 13 in the first place. 

Proposition 13 stabilized the property tax revenue system by capping property taxation at 2% plus nailing down property owners’ right to avoid property tax reassessment… with other stabilizing influences,   rules and iron clad regulations favoring the taxpayer for the first time.

Much to most beneficiaries’ surprise, it also became possible for estates to entertain certain options, where none existed previously; such as beneficiaries who were intent on retaining inherited property from parents now being able to buyout siblings that wanted to sell their property shares… Through a loan to an irrevocable trust, working alongside CA Proposition 58. 

Trust loans have become popular throughout California, to resolve heated sibling “inherited-property conflicts”, working in tandem with CA Proposition 58,  once those beneficiaries looking to keep inherited property actually qualified – enabling their co-beneficiaries to buyout siblings’ shares of a home usually… typically called a “beneficiary buyout of sibling property shares”.

While at the same time the siblings keeping the home were now able to legally avoid property tax reassessment, by using a trust loan to buyout a sibling’s share of an inherited house – or, as realtors call it, “a transfer of property between siblings” or “sibling to sibling property transfer” – whereas regular middle class folks simply refer to the process as “getting cash from a trust loan to buyout siblings’ shares in inherited property”.  Most people prefer to keep things simple.  As we do.

It  was unthinkable that the bad old days would even have a remote chance of returning…  Until now. 

>> Click Here: to Continue to Part Three…