What is The Role of a CA Property Tax Consultant?

California Property Tax Consultant

The Role of a California Property Tax Consultant

What Property Tax Consultants Provide

This article provides an overview on property tax consulting and the benefits that come with enlisting the help of a property tax consultant with expertise in California property tax relief, among other key issues.

To begin with, County Property Tax Assessors – as every homeowner or relevant property owner, new beneficiary and estate heir in California knows – are solely responsible for implementing property tax assessments in their county. The County Assessor is also who one has to deal with when negotiating or submitting a property tax appeal, or filing various related paperwork; or to confirm deadline dates for filings.

However, we find that most homeowners and property owning landlords wind up enlisting the help of a tax appeal firm, or a professional property tax consultant to mitigate what they believe are property tax overcharges, to minimize their long-term property tax burden on a residence or an inherited home.

As many Californians know, property tax consultants frequently handle Tax Assessor negotiations or litigation issues for homeowners and business property owners; and often refer homeowners and beneficiaries to a trust lender, to take advantage of an irrevocable trust loan, while keeping a parents low property tax base.

And as many residents are aware, a loan to an irrevocable trust also works jointly with a parent-to-child exclusion from Proposition 19 (i.e., formerly Proposition 58) and as we mentioned a moment ago keeping a low property tax base while retaining an inherited home from a parent… Also being able to buyout inherited property shares from a co-beneficiary intent on selling their inherited property – for far more cash than an outside buyer would offer.  So in a sense, property tax consultants are aiding both estate heirs and trust beneficiaries looking to buyout siblings’ inherited property, as well as the siblings, or co-beneficiaries, interested in selling out. 

As most Californians that own property know, property tax relief  under Proposition 19 mainly revolves around  the property tax transfer measure, more specifically the parent-child transfer and  protected right to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property and inheriting property taxes, generally with the ability to keep parents property taxes basically for as long as one resides in a primary residence – initiated by the parent-to-child exclusion.

CA Property Tax Consultants: Popular Categories

There are different types of property tax consulting services. Some consultants are experienced appraisers, with expertise in both residential and non-residential corporate real property evaluation. Some companies lack the expertise to some up with their own property tax valuation assessments on their own, and so hire property tax valuation consultants to produce customized property tax assessments for them.

On the other hand, there are “strategy consultants” who can negotiate property tax appeals, help with tax reduction planning, and handle payments for property owners. There are also property tax consultants that concentrate on helping property owners with compliance issues, assembling data and preparing documents to file with the County Assessor.

Michael Wyatt Consulting: General Practice CA Property Tax Consultants

Many property tax consultants offer a combination of services. This is generally the best type of property tax consultant to work with, as they are a lot less limited, in terms of what they can offer you and your family. It’s often helpful to look closely at an actual property tax consultant in California to get a real-life sense of what a professional service like this can actually offer.

For example, let’s take a look at the Michael Wyatt Consulting firm in Corona, California. Since 1978, this boutique firm has specialized in commercial and real estate appraisal, as well as property taxes and property tax relief, custom property research, real estate finance, real estate law, and real estate market analysis, site planning, and entitlements.

Setting them aside from many property tax consultants in California, this particular firm, and most generalist property tax consulting firms like them, will review your real property values every year, getting a fresh look at the status of whatever specific issues are in focus or at stake. If there are proposed property transactions in the works, a reliable property tax consultant will look at that transaction from every angle, to avoid property tax assessment.

Moreover, an on-staff general property tax consultant will always take time to respond to a client’s various needs, such as researching an issue that requires deeper investigation to ensure that all “t’s” are crossed and all “i’s” are dotted; and will always look carefully at any real estate deeds or other related items to make sure all data and numbers are completely accurate before committing final tallies and results to writing, and/or filing with the Tax Assessor.

Generalist tax consultants also tend to stand in as a “middle-man” between you, the property owner, and the Tax Assessor, coordinating your accepted fee payment – or your property tax appeal – and will complete all communications and filings with the County Tax Assessor’s office… and/or any other required government entity or agency.

Like all established, seasoned property tax consultants, the Michael Wyatt Consulting firm provides property owning clients with the knowledge they’ll need to make informed, correct real estate and/or property tax decisions – in order to meet all financial and residency challenges head on; in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Communicating With County Tax Assessors Throughout California

Additional benefits homeowners receive from working with property tax consultants include the ability to make good use of an experienced consultant’s in-depth knowledge of valuation principles, negotiating dispassionately and successfully with Tax Assessors concerning property tax breaks such as the Proposition 19 (formerly Prop 58) parent-child exclusion or assess and apply Proposition 19 tax relief measures that come with being over age 55, being severely disabled, or from owning a primary residence that was destroyed by a natural disaster like a flood or an earthquake, or a forest-fire.

Both homeowners and companies look to property tax consultants to help them put together a customized property tax relief strategy, based on the location of their home or properties’ and to present that plan effectively to the local County Tax Assessor.

A competent property tax consultant should be able to provide expertise on a transfer of a primary residence’s property tax base value to a replacement residence of any value, or to expand tax benefits for the transfer of a family farm — anywhere in California, which calls for new benefits and is highly complex, requiring rather specific expertise.

Awareness of Big-Picture Views and Legislative Issues

It is part of a property tax consultant’s job to lower the value of a property for a homeowner or a business, and to communicate this properly and effectively to a Tax Assessor, and to research challenging issues if necessary, and comprehend different industry categories whenever required.

Not only must a property tax consultant be knowledgeable about property taxes and property tax relief – the property tax consultant must also maintain a big-picture view of state or county legislation that may be looming in the future, and that may affect real estate in your particular county or region – or even possibly in the state of California, if statewide issues happen to be at stake.

Property tax consultants are occasionally also estate attorneys, and typically are compliant with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) standards; and maintain a good reputation you can check on in the property tax industry associations and non-profit organizations.

What’s Good for California? Property Tax Revenue… or Property Tax Relief?

Property Taxes in California

Property Taxes in California

2021 forward, those in leadership roles in the state of California really should to get one thing straight. Middle class homeowners, working families, and even upper middle class property owners – which accounts for most of the state, frankly – do not need more property   tax hikes, and they do not need to be reaching deep into their pockets to be sending yet more tax revenue to the state; especially during a virulent pandemic, where middle class property owners are not getting any richer, nor (as the saying goes) are they getting any younger.
 
With so many people still furloughed, reduced to part-time work, or “temporarily” laid off… with more folks than you might think at 100% unemployed status… with a fair amount of companies shrinking their work force, with some even going completely out of business or leaving the state to set up shop in a nearby state where taxes are lower and property less expensive, plus lower overall cost of living. 

Therefore, with survival at the top of most peoples’ list, middle class families in California are not particularly interested in reading about all the billions going into the state coffers as a result of new property tax measures, in editorials and articles in local newspapers…

On the contrary, homeowners are far more interested in saving money through long-term, time tested California property tax breaks – often with information provided by seasoned property tax consultants like Michael Wyatt Consulting in Corona, and attorneys with decades of property tax relief expertise such as Rachelle Lee-Warner, Esq. at Cunningham Legal trust administration, estate-law firm in Auburn; or estate & trust lenders like Commercial Loan Corp in Newport Beach.

These firms help beneficiaries that are inheriting property from a parent save many  thousands of dollars every year by taking advantage of a (formerly Proposition 58) Prop 19 parent-child exclusion – working in conjunction with an irrevocable trust loan, making it possible to avoid property tax reassessment – buying out sibling property shares while keeping your inherited home at a low Proposition 13 tax base – buying out co-beneficiaries that are looking to sell off their inherited property shares for substantially more cash than an outside buyer would offer, which is the extra bonus. 

Firms like this will guide families through a Prop 19 parent-child exclusion and property tax transfer when inheriting property taxes, with the ability to transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes through the parent-child transfer.

Every property owner and beneficiary should have reliable access to a firm that can lend money to an irrevocable trust – typically a trust loan lender.  Every  property owner in California should also have access to property tax appeals and property tax reduction, from boutique property tax relief companies. 

When we read local news or editorials, we’re encouraged to think about how wonderful all the extra property tax revenue is for California, and how helpful it is for local firemen and school boards, and how fortunate it is for realtors and well connected companies with special interest construction contracts.  Neither commercial property owners and homeowners don’t have the luxury of thinking about the state government’s terrific success at driving more tax revenue into the coffers from well disguised property tax hikes!

All property owners in California should have locked in rights to keep their yearly property taxes low, and when inheriting a home from parents and inheriting parents’ property taxes — to establish a low property tax base that will last literally forever. This is the most important safety net middle class and even upper middle class residents and beneficiaries have in the state of California… and should be focused specifically on taking advantage  that, not on the states’ fabulous increases in property tax revenue.

Popular Reasons Why California Beneficiaries Get a Trust Loan

California Trust Loans

California Trust Loans

Typically, beneficiaries who are seeking a mid to high six-figure or low seven-figure loan to an irrevocable trust are looking to accomplish an important outcome that is generally not possible with other types of financing such as inheritance advance assignments, credit union financing or personal bank loans – as reviewed below…

What Type of Trust Lender do You Want to Work With?

Families buying out sibling property shares while keeping your inherited home at a low Proposition 13 tax base typically enlist the help of an experienced California trust lender that is self-funded. Beneficiaries generally want a self-funded lender as they deliver funding at a faster rate than institutional lenders, such as five to seven days, versus three to four weeks. They also offer terms that are more flexible than an institutional lender such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo. Their compliance requirements for both commercial and residential property owners are also less restrictive than traditional lenders.

Self-funded trust lenders seldom charge up-front fees, they do not require borrowers to pay advance interest on their trust loan; and there is never a “due-on-sale” clause that requires the mortgage to be repaid in full when the property is sold. Lastly, beneficiaries like the fact that this type of firm does not impose an “alienation clause”… in the event of a property transfer, insisting that the borrower has to pay back the mortgage in full before the borrower can transfer the property to another person. Estate and trust attorneys, or property tax consultants will always advise beneficiary clients to avoid these types of restrictive and costly requirements.

Buying Out Property Shares Inherited By Co-Beneficiaries

Generally this option revolves around a common family or sibling conflict that typically has beneficiaries insisting on selling their inherited property shares, while other beneficiaries are looking to keep the family homes, and are enlisting the help of a trust lender to buyout siblings who are determined to sell.

This method of funding provides the beneficiaries looking to sell with a good deal more money than a realtor will get them, with more cash from a trust loan and trust lender than an outside buyer would come up with… Avoiding an expensive, standard 6% realtor commission, avoiding closing costs, legal costs, and processing fees.

This type of family conflict is stressful, however the trust loan process provides a win-win solution for all concerned – keeping property at a low base rate for those who are retaining their parent’s home, and putting a lot more cash in the pocket, as far as beneficiaries who are intent on selling their inherited property shares are concerned.  The trust lender funds the trust and provides “equalized distribution” so every sibling who is selling their shares receives an equal amount.

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment

Beneficiaries looking to keep their inherited family home, while buying out siblings that are looking to sell off their inherited property shares with personal funds, will discover quickly enough that this is not a viable option. Siblings who wish to keep their family home must avoid triggering reassessment, hence using a loan to an irrevocable trust is the most beneficial option, keeping property at a low base rate, or walking off with a lot more cash from selling inherited property shares. Depending which side of the fence you’re on.

As a CA homeowner – how do you ensure, as with a parent-child transfer, that you’re not paying more property tax than you should?  New homeowners must take the right steps in the beginning to keep the low property tax base their parents had, avoiding property tax reassessment at high current rates.  Without trust loan funding, the transaction would be viewed as a “sibling-to-sibling transfer” and thus would not avoid property reassessment. 

A beneficiary keeping the inherited home winds up saving on average $6,200 in yearly property taxes.  Borrowing against an irrevocable trust ensures that the process moves directly through the estate and locks in a low property tax rate. Closely related property tax benefits – that beneficiaries and new homeowners need  to get extremely familiar with – stem from Proposition 13 as well as Proposition 58;  and have morphed rapidly into Proposition 19…  

This all begins with basic property tax transfer… meaning the ability to keep parents property taxes, keeping property at a low base rate through the parent-child transfer and parent-to-child exclusion.  Beneficiaries, and believe it or not their estate attorney, absolutely have to know all about their right to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting parents property and inheriting property taxes from Mom or Dad…

Paying Trust Expenses

For beneficiaries, when a trustee passes away, there is often not enough cash or “liquidity” in an estate or in a trust to pay debts an initial trustee owed, such as attorney fees, medical bills, mortgage and personal loan debt, and other financial obligations. A trust loan can help resolve these debts.

Renting or Selling Inherited Property

If heirs or beneficiaries decide they’d like to rent out an inherited property, there are often maintenance costs and repairs to be considered. Especially when dealing with an inherited homes, age is an issue… hence there are often roof issues, boiler problems, pipes to be replaces, and so on. Before one is able to put an older home on the market to rent or to sell.

Irrevocable trust loans and Proposition 19 property tax exclusion, working in conjunction with each other,  insures that beneficiaries and new homeowners can get these fairly complicated tasks  accomplished in a relatively easy, stress-free and inexpensive manner.

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.

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.

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.

CA 2021: What’s Involved with Transferring Property Taxes from Parent to Child?

Transferring Property Taxes in California on an Inherited Home

California Property Tax New and Information on Transferring Property Taxes

Prop 19 Parent-Child Exclusion From Property Tax Reassessment

We’re going to take a look at 2021 property tax issues from a high-level overview perspective here – simply to provide a firmer grasp on everything involved going forward, now that changes to California property tax relief are active.

Proposition 13  property tax relief was voted into California law on the June 1978 ballot, with 64.79% of the vote, insuring that, going forward, the taxable value of California properties would be based on their assessed value (i.e., “base year value”) rather than their current, or “fair market”,  value.  Proposition 58 followed in 1986, with its’ wildly popular “parent-child exclusion”… trust loans to allow beneficiaries inheriting property to begin keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home is another outgrowth of the popular statewide California parent-child transfer tax break exclusion from property tax reassessment. If you need assistance with a trust loan or learning more about a parent to child property tax transfer, you can call 877-756-4454 or complete this form for additional information:

Despite the fact that the new Proposition 19  property tax law has for all intensive purposes replaced Proposition 58, Proposition 13 will remain intact, as is, going forward.  Proposition 58, was passed on the Nov 1986 ballot, with 75.7% of the vote in California created an exclusion from property tax reassessment, or property transfers between parents and children, known as the parent-to-child exclusion.

Property tax transfer benefits to transfer parents’ property taxes, inheriting property taxes, are still intact under Proposition 19. The parent-child transfer tax break still allows new property owners,  i.e., beneficiaries inheriting parental property, to keep parents property taxes – thereby avoiding property tax reassessment and maintaining exclusion from property tax reassessment. These tax breaks under Proposition 19 are most helpful to Californians with real estate that has low assessed values due to still robust Proposition 13 property tax relief.

As most of us know, assessed value usually reflects the purchase price plus added cost of alterations and improvements; plus an increase of 2% per year maximum tax rate – except when there is  a change in property ownership.

Because real property in California tends to appreciate at a higher rate than 2% per year, the longer real estate is held onto the greater the difference between its’ assessed value and its’ fair market value, hence the greater the difference between property taxes a homeowner pays  versus what is paid by the owner of a property just  purchased, both properties being of similar value.

Proposition 19 allows a beneficiary inheriting parental primary  property to move into an inherited primary residence right away, inside 12-months, avoiding property tax reassessment… As long as the fair market (i.e., current) value of the new inherited home doesn’t exceed the parent’s assessed value by more than $1,000,000

Qualified Personal Residence Trusts & Irrevocable Trust Loans

With respect to irrevocable trusts, if you happen to have siblings and are of the mindset to buyout your sibling co-beneficiaries that are intent on selling off their inherited property shares to an outside buyer – plus you want to keep your parent’s low property tax base, a trust loan solution is surely worth exploring.

Moreover, as you are  inheriting property taxes on an inherited home left by your parent,  an irrevocable trust loan from a reliable trust lender, working in conjunction with Proposition 19, is certain to provide those co-beneficiaries of yours with far more cash than any outside buyer would offer…  So all around, this trust loan process is surely worth serious consideration and an in-depth discussion with your trust or estate attorney.

Transferring Your Assessed Value to a New Primary Residence if You’re 55+, Disabled, or a Victim of a Natural Disaster or Wildfire

If you are over age 55 you now have access to special property tax relief privileges, which is ironic as social bias concerning older Americans usually places seniors in a somewhat inferior, less privileged position;  yet in this case seniors are given greater tax privileges than younger residents, which is a  rather  extraordinary turnaround from the usual “ageist” social and work-place dynamic.

Or, if you are what tax assessors refer to as “severely” disabled; or if you are a  victim of a governor-validated “natural disaster”; or an out-of-control  wildfire, such as California has been experiencing on and off for some time – you can transfer  the assessed value of your primary residence in California to a home you recently purchased, or that was constructed recently as a “replacement residence” in any one of the 58 counties in the great state of California.

Let’s step back for a moment, and take a realistic look at this process from a high-level viewpoint…

These days, the transfer of your property’s  assessed value to a primary replacement residence can take place up to 2-years after the completed sale of your original primary residence; and will remain effective even if your replacement primary residence has a higher current, or fair market, value than your original primary residence.

However, if that is indeed the case, the excess fair market value of your new house will be added to the assessed value of your original house, which will result in the new assessed value of  your new primary residence.  Not only that, speaking of special privileges for those over 55… if you are a homeowner over 55, you  can take full advantage of the assessed value transfer up to three (3) times during  your lifetime.

Additionally,  a “primary residence” under Proposition 19 also applies to family farms.  Lastly, in certain situations, when a grandchild’s parents are both deceased, assessed value can also be legally and validly transferred from grandparent to grandchild, through Proposition 193.

Inheriting a Home in California & Trust Loan Property Tax Savings in 2021

Trust Loan Property Tax Savings

Trust Loan Property Tax Savings

2021 Property Tax Relief & Using an Irrevocable Trust Loan for Homeowners and Beneficiaries Inheriting Property in California

As many Californians that are seeking lower property taxes know by now, current property tax relief measures open up new opportunities for you to take advantage of, if a parent is leaving property to you and your siblings – and you’re looking to keep a low property tax base. 

You can now look forward to new property tax relief opportunities, some that are difficult to understand – that allow you to move into inherited property quickly, within 12-months as a principal residence; in order to take full advantage of the Proposition 19 parent-to-child exclusion (from current property tax rates) to avoid property tax reassessment.

What you may not know a great deal about, however, or what may be difficult to understand, are certain highly effective property tax breaks that are now available to you, if you’re a beneficiary inheriting property from a parent – using an irrevocable trust loan, in conjunction with a Proposition 19 parent-child transfer, with the help of a trust lender.  This is frequently taken advantage of by beneficiaries, perhaps like yourself, who intend to keep a home inherited from parents at the original low property tax base – also making it possible to buyout inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries, using an irrevocable trust loan.

Avoiding property reassessment is a property tax relief benefit available to all Californians, as long as all new requirements are followed. So beneficiaries, new homeowners, can  transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property and inheriting property taxes; with the right to keep parents property taxes for as long as they want, as long as they reside in their inherited residence.                        

Hands On Experience, Establishing a Low Property Tax Base

If it were your siblings selling their property shares – you’d be providing them with a good deal more money than an outside buyer would offer, for the same property; plus locking in a low property tax base for yourself – from a trust lender like Commercial Loan Corp.  And, speaking of which, certain benefits are aptly summarized by a client, who said:

“…just closed my first loan (refinance) with Commercial Loan Corp with a very low 30 year fixed rate (honestly a lot less than we ever anticipated)… This firm was very knowledgeable about [using an irrevocable trust loan] process and trust legal issues involved.  We have been trying to get a refinance for this property for over 5 years! So happy that we found a trust lender like this!(1)  

New 2021 Property Tax Relief Advantages in California

Many California residents are not aware of certain new property tax breaks that provide tax relief for homeowners over 55.  Moreover, residents that are considered to be “severely disabled” can now also transfer taxable value from their current house to a new home – as long as the value of the new house is less than or equal to the value of the previous home.

Other improvements for certain segments of the population in California are, surprisingly, not well known throughout the state – most likely due to unintentionally poor communications from folks in state leadership roles;  plus  confusing coverage by the media.  Improvements, for example, as of April 2021 when Proposition 19 gave victims of wildfires and other natural disasters – regardless of age or disabilities – the right to transfer lower taxable value to a new home.

If this pertains to you, it would definitely be worthwhile to investigate, and discuss with well known property tax relief  experts such as, for example, attorney Rachelle Lee-Warner, Esq., a senior partner at estate, trust and tax planning law firm Cunningham Legal in Oakland Hills, CA with many other offices throughout California, specializing in Trust Administration; or Michael Wyatt Consulting in Corona,CA, specializing in real estate transactions, using an irrevocable trust loan, and property tax relief in general.  Or any firm with similar focus and equivalent experience.  

Having a seasoned specialist  like that to help guide you through some of the new advantages Proposition 19 offers  ends up saving you a lot of money on property taxes, if you meet the requirements.

For example, if you’re a  homeowner over 55 or are “severely disabled”, you won’t be limited to buying a new house and transferring your lower tax base only within the same county that your previous home was situated in. Now, you can  relocate to any of the 58 counties in California and still retain your previous, low property tax rate.  

CA Property Tax Relief Improvements Reported in the Media

ABC-10 News, in addressing property tax relief changes, confirms that: “…this law benefits seniors, the disabled, and victims of wildfires and disasters. California property owners are paying the same taxes based on the price they originally paid after California enacted a law to keep property taxes down in 1978. Proposition 19 lets people keep their tax base when they move anywhere in California up to three times and only pay higher property taxes on the difference. This would allow wildfire victims to move anywhere in the state without facing massive tax hikes.”  (2)

Interviewed on KPBS News, Jordan Marks, a taxpayer advocate for the San Diego County Assessor’s Office also offers his opinions.  Mr. Marks tells us: “Seniors are gonna get the benefit to transfer their replacement property. So they sell their primary home and they can get a second one, and they can do it three times now versus the one time allowed under the former tax law.” (3)

Members of the state Board of Equalization are eager to address the type of confusion we mentioned earlier, that is often associated with the Proposition 19 tax law.  Mr. Gary Gartner at the CA Board of Equalization tells us: “We have a lot of constituents calling in expressing [mixed] opinions of the new law. The board is trying to work out ambiguities in the law with assessors around the state and legislators in Sacramento. To that end, the board is holding virtual town hall meetings just to give people the opportunity to better understand the complexity of this law, which is really challenging…” (4)

The value of any new house can be larger than the value of a previous home – although the increase in value naturally has to be added to the previous home’s transferred assessed value. If this seems confusing, you can always enlist help from a property tax consultant or trust lender.

Trust Loans & Estate Lending in Concert With New Property Tax Breaks

Beneficiaries that are selling their inherited property shares actually receive more money through a trust loan than if they were to sell their inherited property to an outside buyer – by avoiding realtor fees and other costs,  each of those co-beneficiaries receives, on average, an extra $15,000+. While the heir or beneficiaries retaining the family house get to save $6,200 on average per year in property taxes. This savings adds up. (5)

It may sound complicated, but when you speak to  a trust lender or  property tax consultant, the details become clearer after you apply your own specs in discussion with a property tax specialist.  To discuss a home you may be inheriting, as well as property tax savings – Call attorney Rachelle Lee-Warner, Esq. at Cunningham Legal, Michael Wyatt Consulting, the Trust Lender Commercial Loan Corp, or the Property Tax News at (877) 756-4454.