Changes to California Property Tax Relief in 2021

Changes to California Property Tax Relief in 2021

Changes to California Property Tax Relief in 2021

The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act (AKA: Prop 19)

For homeowners in California , it’s important to have a good general understanding of how property tax relief is changing. Fortunately, Californians finally do have a clearer understanding of what property tax measure Proposition 19, passed into law on Nov 3, 2020 by voters in the state of California, is really all about, as well as how Proposition 58 has changed, in terms of property tax reassessment.

A lot of property owners in California aren’t aware of the fact that Proposition 19 was also entitled, “The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act” – A peculiar, overly wordy title; indicating that seniors, severely disabled people and victims of wildfires or natural disasters will be able to transfer the taxable value of their “original residence” to a “replacement residence” up to three times during their lifetime – anywhere throughout all 58 counties within the state of California.

California State Board of Equalization Chairman Antonio Vazquez said, in regards to the new tax measure, Proposition 19: “Seniors, the severely disabled, and victims of wildfires or natural disasters can now move to a replacement home anywhere in California and avoid significant property tax increases if eligible.  Property tax relief can be beneficial for those especially on limited incomes or who have been affected by wildfires or natural disasters.”

What is the California State Board of Equalization (BOE)?

For all of us who have heard all about BOE for many years, yet have not really understood what the California State Board of Equalization was really all about – it would be a good idea to sit down for a moment and look more closely at the BOE, and see what it is that they do, and how they break down the new Proposition 19 tax measure. 

For starters, the CA State Board of Equalization is literally the only elected tax board in the United States. It contains four Equalization District Members, positioned by locale, plus the State Controller. BOE’s legal responsibilities encompass the management of 58 County Assessors to make sure assessment best practices are in order statewide, without deviating from the set rules and regulations.

Believe it or not, the State Board of Equalization also assesses the property of public utilities along with regulated railroads, and takes in revenue from private railroad car tax. BOE also manages “Alcoholic Beverage Tax” and “Tax on Insurers”; plus property tax administration, promoting “fair and equitable assessments” – protecting tax revenue that school systems, local communities, and the California Legislature depend on, year after year.

Dispelling Confusion Around Proposition 19

The BOE also clarifies some of the confusion surrounding Proposition 19 and its’ ability to help residents avoid property reassessment, in contrast to Proposition 58; confirming that middle class seniors, age 55 and older… often  living on a modest fixed income; or those severely disabled, must meet specific requirements to qualify for new property tax breaks.

Both an “original” and “replacement residence” has to meet special requirements in order to be eligible for the homeowners’ or disabled veterans’ exemption. An application has to be completed and filed with the County Assessor to enable transfer of any taxable value. Finally, a “replacement residence” must be purchased or newly constructed within two years of the sale of an original home. If the market value of a “replacement residence” is greater than the market value of the “original residence”, the difference will be added to the taxable value when transferred.

As far as victims of a wildfire or natural disaster are concerned, similar requirements apply but there are no age restrictions. In order to qualify, a residence has to be seriously damage by a wildfire or a legally verified (frequently “governor verified”) natural disaster.

Parent-Child Exclusion, Originally Under CA Proposition 58

It is true that CA Proposition 19 limits property tax relief under CA Proposition 58, most notably the parent-child exclusion.  This eliminates the $1,000,000 assessed value reassessment exclusion as in a parent-child transfer of residential property that is not a primary residence. This obviously limits the parent-child transfer exclusion from property tax reassessment to primary residences only. 

Yet as long as that criteria is met, Californians can avoid property reassessment, keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home; as long as the parent leaving the property resided there as a principle residence as well, plus beneficiaries inheriting the property make sure they move in within that 12-month deadline, the California parent to child exclusion from property tax reassessment is protected by Proposition 19, formerly by Prop 58.  As long as this type of property tax transfer, Prop 19 property tax break, is used properly, and the move into an inherited home occurs within one year of inheriting property taxes from a parent.  To reiterate, taken over by the beneficiary, or heirs, as a primary residence; in order to avoid property reassessment.  And according to the new tax laws, as of Feb 2021,  this is the only method left to residents, after Proposition 19 limits are imposed, to be able to  successfully transfer parents property taxes – and keep parents property taxes, basically forever.                     

Transfer of Assessed Value to a New Residence

To review, the other major changes to property tax relief for California property owners, as we touched on a moment ago, is relief for homeowners age 55 and older, folks with a disability, or victims of a wildfire or natural disaster. These residents are now able to transfer assessed value of their primary residence in any county in California – to a home they have just bought, or a newly constructed “replacement residence” used as a primary home.

These new Proposition 19 measures apply to real estate anywhere in California, if you are a resident of the state or not.  Which is a positive change – plus, certain property tax breaks used be accessible only in certain counties.   Californians with vacation homes, residential homes that are for rent, or commercial properties (owned outside any corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, etc.) may not be able to avoid property reassessment, and may have to face property tax reassessment burdens, and may want to seek legal counsel or help from a trust lender or property tax specialist or consultant.

Is a Parent to Child Transfer Still Relevant for CA Beneficiaries & Homeowners?

Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer

Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer

In a Pandemic depressed economy, with a tsunami of unemployed and under-employed workers floating around in every state… it’s obvious that middle class working  families need to save more… and spend less – on items not classified as necessary for survival.  Property taxes being one of those sort of artificial expenses imposed on citizens by the government.

One solution for this dilemma is property tax relief, which we talk about at length on this blog.  Why not institute genuine property tax relief, not tax deferment as the state government has suggested, moving payment dates around.  Clearly ineffective in a crisis like the one we’re in right now.  California needs expanded property tax relief that’s even more wide reaching than  what we have now.  

We should be building on what we already have – not watering it down!  Despite property tax breaks that no other state has, California could use expanded tax breaks from Proposition 19, to help homeowners establish an even lower property  tax base, saving residents even more during  a crisis like the pandemic we’re in right now.  With an even greater ability to resolve inherited property conflicts between beneficiaries as well. 

In other words, a beneficiary buyout of co-beneficiary property shares, while avoiding property tax reassessment, can be re-drawn so there is no 12-month deadline for beneficiaries to follow… Plus the ability to avoid property tax reassessment on certain investment properties that have revenue potential. 

Residents need more opportunities in a depressed economy like we’re in now to drive revenue, not less.  Solutions like inheriting property taxes in California 2021 need to be expanded statewide, and legally strengthened. Solutions and firms like that will help beneficiaries & homeowners buyout a sibling’s share of an inherited home as an investment property to rent out, not just to live in as a primary residence.

Every property owner should understand the details underlying Prop 19, and know what’s involved with a beneficiary buyout of sibling property shares, or “transfer of property between siblings”, and “lending money to an irrevocable trust“ – from an irrevocable trust lender.  Every California homeowner and beneficiary inheriting property should know how a sibling to sibling property transfer works; keeping yearly taxes on property at parents low rates; and inheriting property taxes in California 2021.

Only California allows this, so it’s worth taking a closer look, and taking full advantage of.  Take a look at the site managed by CA State Board of Equalization, at and research property tax breaks  and Proposition 19 property tax relief revisions at Loan to a Trust  and read up on updates to Proposition 19 at this blog, Property Tax News.    There are also property tax consultants to learn from  such as  property tax specialist Michael Wyatt Consulting who are experts at property tax breaks that save homeowners, commercial property owners, and beneficiaries inheriting property thousands of dollars if not tens of thousands of dollars every year.   

The well known president of Commercial Loan Corp, Kerry Smith is another expert to learn from, or to receive a trust loan from, if the need is there.  Trust and Estate Loans is another source of excellent material, if you want to learn more about establishing a low base property tax rate through a trust loan, and Californians ability to execute a transfer of parents’ property and transfer of parents property taxes when inheriting parents property and inheriting property taxes during a property tax transfer with your parents’ low property tax base. If you’re going to own property in California, it’s worth it to know about your ability to avoid property tax reassessment, and to keep parents property taxes.  Well worth it!  

Are Trusts Mainly for Wealthy Folks?

Are Trusts Only for the Wealthy

Are Trusts Only for the Wealthy?

Gifting property to adult children is a great thing to do, no matter the tax breaks – and thankfully, if you live in California and inherit property in that state, you do not need to be mega wealthy with $1,200 per hour tax lawyers to be able to avoid property tax reassessment, or to learn how to use a trust to save on taxes or to buy out siblings’ shares in your inherited real estate… with a trust loan.

Putting it bluntly, it doesn’t hurt to live in a state like California, where you get to save tens of thousands in tax breaks every year, compared to other states…. or compared to California the way it was pre-1978 before Proposition 13, and later in 1986 with Proposition 58, when you started to be able to keep parents property taxes when you’ve inherited property and are able to transfer parents property taxes, inheriting property taxes on a property tax transfer with a simple parent to child transfer or as lawyers call it, parent to child exclusion. Or perhaps lucky to be anywhere, if you can keep that house you inherited in your name, and you have a very good accountant! Another point – why trusts aren’t just for wealthy folks to save on income tax. 

There are trust lenders providing trust loans in California to cure family estate problems, with some beneficiaries insisting on selling inherited property – and no one can agree what the property value is, whether the local tax assessor is right or wrong;  or whether to sell or not to sell.  This is most likely one reason, besides saving on property taxes, that many property tax consultants and tax attorneys firmly believe that lawmakers in every state should pass property tax relief bills that make sense.

It would be advisable for homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property to go to websites focused on CA Proposition 19, Prop 13, Prop 58, and Proposition 60… such as Michael Wyatt Consulting   and Trust and Estate Loans info-sites  or irrevocable trust lenders, or perhaps niche California focused property tax relief blogs like this one, Property Tax News.  Which is simply to straighten up and learn more about why property tax relief is crucial to California, and would be an economic life-saver to other states, if they were to surprise everyone and gain some genuine leadership, along the lines of what New York has.  So the middle class (not just the millionaires) can live in comfort and security.

As every state in America is now in the throes of a relentless pandemic, with a disastrous affect on businesses and unemployment within local and state economies…  lawmakers in every state would be wise to look at passing a property tax relief bill that would give consumers some financial relief, for example as CA Proposition 13 did in beginning in 1978 and Proposition 58 did in the beginning of that Amendment in 1986, giving Californians the ability to transfer parents property taxes.   

It seemed like a miracle for middle class homeowners in California… and beneficiaries to trusts inheriting a home from parents.  Enabling a property tax transfer solution from parents and grandparents when inheriting a home, and likewise inheriting property taxes – with a parent to child transfer or parent to child exclusion… the urgent need to keep parents property taxes was all of a sudden a reality, thanks to Howard Jarvis and colleagues, regardless of their deeper motivations – and of course the ability to transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property; avoiding property tax reassessment to keep property taxes low, and to have the ability to utilize trusts for a lower tax base – for all Americans; not just for corporate CEOs, VIPs and wealthy families in Beverly Hills, in Santa Barbara, the Marina in San Francisco, or similar locales. 

PART ONE: Property Tax Relief Fights for Its’ Life in California…

Jon Coupal, articulate and persistent president of the authoritative and well respected “Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association”, has been leading the charge in California to keep property tax relief safely in place.

There are a few other notable property tax reduction leaders, like Michael Wyatt, “Property Tax Consultant”; and Kerry Smith, courageous and visionary president of the “Commercial Loan Corp”, that furnishes trust loans tied into Proposition 58, making the transfer of property between siblings and buying out a sibling’s share of a house possible.

All of this, of course, ties into the process of inheriting property taxes, ones ability to keep parents property taxes, and property tax transfer as it pertains to the parent to child transfer (which Proposition 19 seeks to unravel) — commonly known as parent to child exclusion or a parent to child exemption.  Plus, there are high end tax reduction specialists, like noted Paramount Property Tax Appeal president Wes Nichols,  who  specialize in personal business tax reduction and property tax assessor appeals.  These folks have all been on the front lines of these issues for many years.

Not known for soft ball opinions, or for taking it easy on property tax relief opponents, Mr. Coupal was extremely candid in an interview with this Blog; and had some interesting things to say recently, in a particularly hard-hitting article in The Tahoe Daily Tribune, on Oct. 9, 2020 “Explaining the Confusing Prop 19 to Californians” and in his own column on the http://www.hjta.org Website, “Prop-15 Backers Try to Mislead Homeowners”  where Mr. Coupal stated, on Oct 21:

“Prop-15 backers try to mislead homeowners. It’s a sign of desperation. When anyone in politics starts making wild claims less than a month before an election, you know something is amiss. So it is with the proponents of Proposition 15, the “split roll” initiative which would impose the largest property tax increase in California history.

Throughout this campaign, proponents have consistently argued that the measure won’t impact homeowners because it just raises property taxes on commercial and industrial properties. But now, they claim that Prop. 15 actually saves homeowners money.

This is absurd on its face. Recent polling suggests that support for split roll is sinking fast, especially among homeowners. This might explain why proponents have, at the 11th hour, countered with the argument that, as corporations have to pay more, the tax burden for homeowners goes down. Nobody believes this.”

Mr. Coupal also brings to our attention the deliberate confusion around proposed Proposition 19; as he reiterates,

“It’s no secret that ballot initiatives can be confusing, but Proposition 19 takes obfuscation to a whole new level. Voters can’t be blamed if they can’t remember whether Prop. 19 is the initiative that is a massive property tax hike or the measure that actually has something good for homeowners or the initiative that has something to do with firefighting. The fact is, all three are at least somewhat true — especially the part about the big tax increase.

Let’s clear up the confusion: Proposition 13, passed in 1978, gave California homeowners certainty about their future property tax liability because increases in the “taxable value” of property would be limited to 2 percent per year. Property would be reassessed to market value only when it changed hands. But that tax hike even applied when property owners transferred a property to their own children.

Prop. 19 would repeal Proposition 58 and force the reassessment of inherited or transferred property within families. The only exception is if the property is used as the principal residence of the person to whom it was transferred and even that exclusion is capped…”

If you repeal Proposition 58, the uniquely Californian funding process involving trust loans tied into Proposition 58 may have to be revised. And by the way, the ‘principal residence’ ruling must take place within one year of the passing of the decedent who left behind the property in question.  This in itself creates a myriad of problems, if you have an additional mortgage thrust upon you, plus the expenses that very well may accompany  another residence if you’re also a homeowner at the time you inherit this additional property. 

You may have a large family that won’t fit into the inherited property, noo that you’re forced to move in within a year.  The inherited home may be a much longer drive from your job or your spouses’ job.  Your children may attend a school in a totally different district, causing additional problems; etc. so on and so forth.  Otherwise, you may be forced to sell your inherited property, and that can bring inconvenient and expensive issues along with it as well.  It may not be so simple.

At any rate, Mr. Coupal added, “The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the repeal of the “inter-generational transfer protections” will result in tens of thousands of California families getting hit with higher property taxes every year. The LAO acknowledges that Prop. 19 imposes an additional tax burden in the “hundreds of millions of dollars”.

>> Click Here to go to Part Two…