How Has Prop 19 Changed Inheriting California Property and Home Ownership?

How Has Prop 19 Changed Inheriting California Property and Home Ownership?

How Has Prop 19 Changed Inheriting California Property and Home Ownership?

Proposition 19’s supporters would like to reduce Prop 13’s less attractive elements and implement what they would call, “freeing-up long-term homeowners.” 

Prop 19 is expected to generate increased house sales, as well as realtor and broker commissions, which is why Prop 19’s largest supporter, the California Realtors Association spent $40,400,341 to get Prop 19 passed, and the National Association of Realtors kicked in $4,800,000 to promote such a hard-to-sell property tax measure.  The $100,000 donated by the California Professional Firefighters union to Proposition 19 pales in comparison.

Proposition 13, which passed in a landslide way back in 1978, was a unique amendment to the California Constitution which capped residential property taxes on a primary residence to 1970s levels, capping them at 1% of assessed value (plus local additions, by county).  Assessments were allowed to rise at a maximum rate of 2% per year — even though prices on real estate in California continued to increase in most of the state’s 58 counties.

Properties would be reassessed at current market rates when a total change of ownership occurred, either by death, gift, or sale — when the property in question is “transferred”.  What the CA State Board of Equalization calls a “change in ownership.”  Deceptively simple terminology for a rather complex process; made even more complex these days by varying state taxes and Coronavirus issues, verified at property tax relief websites and niche blogs like Property Tax News or Loan To A Trust.

 Inheriting California real estate and home ownership in general is different now as far as property taxes are concerned.  If a homeowner in any county bought a $2,000,000 home today, without any property tax breaks, they might pay roughly $25,000+ per year in property taxes.  A family in a nearby $2,000,000 home that’s been there for let’s say 30 years may owe merely $2,500 per year.  But it’s all relative.  Certain politicians complain about this type of inequity… however  if you bought property 30 years ago, would the same property cost the same last week?  Of course not.  So why should taxes be any different.  

Under Proposition 19, the only low Proposition 13 tax base that can be transferred to your children is that of your principal residence to your heirs (offspring).  Subsequently,  your heirs have to reside in that home also as   their primary residence.  And if that inherited home is valued at more than $1,000,000 it may be partly or completely reassessed by the local  tax  assessor, with a partial or total loss of their Proposition 13 parent-to-child exclusion property tax break.  It is not entirely clear yet how all of this will shake out once the dust settles on this. 

However the entire concept of installing a property tax hike in the midst of a flagging Pandemic economy with growing unemployment and under-employment; or even the decision by the Legislature to  promote a Proposition 19 tax hike in 2021 — to water down middle class homeowners’ ability to avoid property tax reassessment is under a spotlight and being seriously questioned in light of basic survival, and even retirement, by respected economists, academics and analytical websites.   

In most cases, Proposition 19 will effectively eliminate a parent’s right to transfer a low property tax assessment to heirs, since it is unclear at this point how  many heirs or beneficiaries inheriting their parents’ home will be all that excited about  moving into that inherited home as a primary residence — and within 12 months at that. It may be too small for a large family.  Work places may be too far away to be convenient.  School districts could b e a major issue.  And so on. 

Moreover,  many homes are worth far more than $1,000,000 in California. That makes Proposition 19, despite it’s many positive benefits, a liability for many inheritors… with challenging  outcomes for certain taxpaying residents who have inherited California real estate.

The folks who benefit from Proposition 19 are embraced clearly in its’ promotional title: “Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act.”  Exactly what the definition and application of  “severely disabled” is, remains to be seen.  As mostly everything with this particular Legislature, it would be safe to say that there are a lot more assumptions in play here than specific, concrete projections that are backed up by well researched data and factual analysis. 

We can assume that homeowners who are over the age of 55, disabled or supposedly “severely” disabled, who have been harmed by a forest fire or  some other natural disaster of some kind,  will be able to transfer the assessed value of their primary California residence to a new home anywhere within the state’s 58 counties. 

This revised property tax relief procedure may be repeated  three times in a lifetime, supposedly, and so homeowners now have two years to transfer their Prop 13 low property tax base.  And one can still expect (with more limitations now built into the process) to be able to take advantage of trust lenders with a loan to a trust if the goal is to buyout co-beneficiaries (i.e., siblings) looking to sell their inherited property shares, as a transfer of property between siblings, with a loan to an irrevocable trust. 

So no matter what, at least for the moment, Californians can still make good use of a property tax transfer from a parent, a Prop 13 low property tax base — under the CA Proposition 13 transfer of property — and transfer parents property taxes, with the sole objective to   keep parents property taxes regardless, when inheriting any kind of property more or less, and inheriting property taxes under California’s parent to child transfer, known as the  parent to child exclusion — which has been the number one target anti property tax relief parties want to  water down, or even repeal.                

Additionally,  if the homeowners’ new house is assessed at a higher value  than their previous home — their property taxes might go up, however not  as high as they would have been before Proposition 19 went into effect. So there is helpful property tax relief here if you look for it, such as being able to establish a Prop 13 low property tax base.  It is just not quite  as simple and straight-forward as it once was, before Proposition 19 more or less replaced Proposition 58 in the sunny state of California, in Nov. of 2021. 

PART TWO: California Beneficiaries Learn How to Make Prop 19 Work For Them

How California Prop 19 Works

How California Prop 19 Works

Interestingly enough, even though certain members of the press now oppose Proposition 19 as if they had been defending this position all this time – when in actual fact they had been trying to convince Californians that their Prop 58 parent to child transfer, to avoid property tax reassessment, their parent to child exclusion from being taxed at current rates, or their right to buyout a sibling’s share of their inherited property, was a negative.

When in fact they now admit that for property owners, heirs and beneficiaries inheriting property from parents – all these tax breaks are clearly a positive benefit for California residents. And in the real world, away from ideology, there is no disputing it.

So like many residents, after Proposition 19 was voted into law, the California press also found themselves experiencing “buyer’s remorse” once the dust had settled a bit and Prop 19 actually became a reality, for better or for worse.

Confusing things even more, investigative reporters at the Los Angeles Times created the “Lebowski Loophole” in 2018, named after actor Jeff Bridges. The Times reported that “Jeff Bridges, together with his brother Beau and their sister were paying only $5,700 a year in property taxes on a 4-bedroom Malibu home with access to a semi-private beach and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean; inherited from their parents, who bought it in the 1950’s; but none of the Bridges siblings lived there.

Apparently, the Bridges family was renting out their beachfront property for $15,000 a month. This urban legend is still the only example used by the press, year after year, to support anti property tax relief arguments. They use this one example to represent a supposed army of folks doing the same thing… and yet, surprisingly, have not come up with the name of another family investing in high-end property under Proposition 13, getting off easy on taxes, and renting out their property out for huge financial gain.

In all these years, for whatever reason, the press has never come up with the name of another family as even a second example of this type of supposed “property tax abuse” showing how Proposition 13 is abused by California inheritors.

The truth is, by and large, most middle class families inheriting property are taking advantage of the parent-to-child exclusion tax break merely to survive and to be able to afford to inherit property without getting killed on the tax hit. Middle class folks that are merely trying to live with a degree of comfort and class in a hyper expensive state, where all the good things have been established with the wealthy in mind – the flashy cars, the beachfront properties, the large homes with beautiful lawns and pools, the fancy restaurants, and the red carpets… The fame and success, that everyone stops and stares at, and admires.

Still held over from Prop 58, we now have similar, albeit more limited, Proposition 19 parent-to-child exclusion benefits, for beneficiaries who want to avoid property tax reassessment; who want to keep inherited property from parents and keep parents property taxes.  They support the  transfer of property taxes when inheriting property taxes from a parent.
Property tax transfer, the ability to transfer parents property taxes, keeping property at a low base rate is top of mind for every homeowner and property inheritor in California.

Parent to child transfer – their parent to child exclusion from property reassessment is the only benefit that makes it possible to be able to establish a low Prop 13 property tax base, the same as their parents had… Plus the transfer of property between siblings, to be able to buyout co-beneficiaries who are looking to sell their inherited property shares.

In reality, this type of property tax relief, by being able to transfer parents property taxes, accomplishes exactly what is was set out to do – protect residents’ property tax rates, and give the middle class some sense of property tax stability; to have a sense of pride and security over the years.

Were it not for Prop 13, you can rest assured property taxes would be sky high by now, practically unaffordable for many; and certainly a struggle for most.

The California Proposition 19 Newspaper Debate

California Proposition 19

California Proposition 19


The official California  “Voter Guide” (Official Voter Information Guide) tells us CA Proposition 19 actually protects Proposition 13 property tax savings; and “closes unfair tax loopholes used by wealthy out-of-state investors” — a subtle reference to East Coast investors, of which in reality there are relatively few families like this actually coming to California to inherit property from parents, under Proposition 13, and rent out to wealthy tourists. 

This exaggerated claim has already been dis-proven, yet folks that support Prop 19  and continuously question property tax relief and Proposition 13, continue to repeat this false claim in the media — even though most CA property owners back Prop 13 and Proposition 58.

Newspapers have weighed in recently on Proposition 19: in terms of support…  

• San Mateo Daily Journal: “This would enable people in high cost areas to move more easily, opening up room for new residents to the area.”

• The San Diego Union-Tribune: “While critics see this as a gift to the wealthy elderly, the great majority of older homeowners are middle-income, not rich. Allowing them (as well as disabled homeowners and wildfire or disaster victims) to downsize without suffering a huge property tax hit is a humane policy that helps people retire with much less financial stress. It would also promote fluidity in home sales, increasing the availability of larger homes for families with children and easing the phenomenon of Proposition 13 depressing the real estate free market by trapping empty-nesters in homes bigger than they need.”

And in opposition…

• Tahoe Daily Tribune: “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.”

• Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards: “Prop. 19 merely plugs one hole in the state’s porous property tax laws while creating another. It’s time for holistic reform that simplifies the system and makes it more equitable. This isn’t it. The longer a person had owned their current home, and already benefited from inordinately low tax bills due to Prop. 13, the greater the tax break on the new property. And those who downsize would often be competing with first-time buyers for more-affordable smaller homes. The real reform would be to abolish the tax-transfer program, not expand it.”

• The Bakersfield Californian Editorial Board: “Proposition 19 is another do-over on the ballot. Two years ago, the real estate industry spent $13 million on a similar initiative campaign to expand the program statewide and enhance the benefit for eligible homeowners. Sixty percent of voters rejected the initiative.”

• Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: “But Proposition 19 would just expand the inequities in California’s property tax system. It would grossly benefit those who were lucky enough to buy a home years ago and hold onto it as values skyrocketed. It would give them a huge tax break and greater buying power in an already expensive real estate market. It would skew tax breaks further away from people who don’t own a home or who may be struggling to buy one.”

• San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board: “[Proposition 19] is still a flawed package, designed to rev up home sales that benefit real estate agents who could reap more in commissions. It favors one narrow segment of the tax-paying public but does nothing for the rest of the state’s home buyers. The measure shows the convoluted extremes that California’s tangled property tax system produces.”

Whichever way you see it, it’s fairly clear that Proposition 19 is a billion-dollar tax increase on families. It limits one of the best tools parents have to help their children — the right, enshrined in California’s Constitution since 1986, to pass their home and other property on without any increase in property taxes, as a Proposition 19 parent to child transfer.

On the other hand, Proposition 19 still allows residents to avoid property tax reassessment, as long as families move into inherited property inside 12 months, and only as a primary residence. 

California beneficiaries inheriting property from parents can still work with trust lenders to get a loan to a trust you can also get a trust loan to buyout co-beneficiaries, while locking in a low property tax base… You can still easily buyout co-beneficiaries with a transfer of property between siblings.  Beneficiaries can always take advantage of a property tax transfer — in other words, transfer parents’  property taxes to themselves under Prop 19, what used to be Prop 58… and keep parents property taxes after inheriting property, and inheriting property taxes,  for as long as they live in their inherited home… as a standard Proposition 19 parent to child transfer or parent to child exclusion from current property tax rates. 

Moreover, Prop 19 will in fact generate additional property tax revenue, that will supposedly be put to good use in the state of California. So, it cuts both ways.

The Affect of Prop 19 on the Housing Market & Working Families in California

California Proposition 19 Property Tax Assistance

California Proposition 19 Property Tax Assistance

Jeanne Radsick, president of The Realtors Group, said recently:  “it’s vital  for homeowners who may be empty-nesters or who are looking to move for health reasons to have more options.  And if they can maintain  stable tax basis, they can live a similar life.  There’s not enough senior housing to accommodate older folks otherwise.”

Still, beneficiaries of Proposition 19 are those who already benefited the most under the state’s existing property tax laws.  Homeowners 55 and older in California are more likely to be older and not poor.  Although, an analysis of Proposition 19 by the California Budget and Policy Center, has some interesting things to say. They are a non-profit that is an advocate for working families and lower-income Californians…. 

At any rate,  their analysis tells us that homeowners in California tend to be more white and wealthier and older.  They seem to be forgetting that homeowners  also happen to be middle class and blue collar; but the study ignores the fact that middle class and working families are the principle users of Proposition 13, Proposition 58 and now of course Prop 19 exclusion for reassessment of property taxes.  Although, the real estate industry does i fact stand to benefit from the increase in home sales that is expected as a result of the Prop 19 measure.  But there’s nothing we can do about it, so we may as well focus on what we can do to lower property taxes.

However. Property tax relief is not chiefly for wealthy Californians nor was it meant for them.  In fact if you crunch the numbers without bias, the high volume of beneficiaries using trust loans to buyout siblings, establishing a low property tax base; while using the parent to child exclusion to avoid property tax reassessment… are mostly middle class.  Not millionaires. We don’t quite follow why they keep making that argument.  Millionaires surely aren’t the only folks interested in Proposition 13 and Prop 58, property tax transfer, or rather the ability to  transfer parents property taxes, to keep parents property taxes while inheriting property taxes during a parent to child transfer, or parent to child exclusion. 

We certainly see more working families and upper middle class families buying out a siblings’ share of a mutually inherited home, than we do corporate CEOs. Another key Proposition 58 benefit… allowing for the exclusion for reassessment of property taxes on transfers between parents and children. Not just for rich people!

Ms. Radsick said that protecting Realtors’ interests was not a driving force behind the push for Proposition 19.  “It is not about making money for the Realtors, for crying out loud,” she said. “It’s about tax fairness for people who need help.”  We need to sit back and really ponder that statement.

Liam Dillon at the Los Angeles Times had some interesting views on the   evolving property tax breaks available to Californians.  He writes:  “The biggest winners under Proposition 19 would be homeowners 55 and older who would pay lower property taxes when moving to a new, more expensive residence.  Currently, homeowners who are 55 or older have a one-time opportunity to retain their existing tax benefits if they move to a home of equal or lesser value within the same county. They can do the same when moving between Los Angeles and nine other counties.

Mr. Dillon goes on to say:  “Proposition 19 would further ease the tax burden by allowing the same group of senior homeowners to blend the taxable value of their old house with the purchase price of a new, more expensive home, reducing the property tax payment they’d otherwise face.   Disabled homeowners would receive the benefit as well. The rules under Proposition 19 would extend to every county in the state, and homeowners could take advantage of the break as many as three times when they decide to move.”

The downside, from our viewpoint, is the fact that given higher property taxes, using  inherited homes as rental properties may soon become unprofitable, without raising rents significantly… and that is not likely to be an effective long-terms solution. The fact of the matter is, these new property tax laws may encourage a lot of residents to sell properties they own, that they intended to leave to their heirs. Hence, realtors and brokers make more money, and that was one intention right from the beginning for Prop 19.

The concern surfacing among analysts revolves around the possibility of important companies leaving California for more business-friendly, lower-taxed states, taking their jobs with them.  As well as young white collar folks in their 20s and 30s, seeking more affordable property to settle into in nearby states; with a new job; focused on raising a family where they won’t get blasted every year with super high property taxes and income taxes, along with a high cost of living.

But, on the other hand… Higher property taxes or not, California will always be an attractive place to live.  There is still exclusion for reassessment of property taxes; there is still sunshine 12 months per year, an ocean nearby, convenient cities and beautiful rural areas 30 minutes away. And you can always find a good deal on most things, if you look for it.  People are always going to want to live in California.

California Proposition 19 Lenders and Irrevocable Trusts

California Proposition 19 Trust Loans

California Proposition 19 Trust Loans

Post Proposition 19 Californians must face certain  changes to the Proposition 58 “Parent to Child Transfer” tax break, the “Parent to Child Exclusion”. 

Property owning Californians now have to grapple with specific challenges, where property tax relief is concerned. It has to be said that, with all due respect, that the realtor community  in California is straining credibility.  They backed Proposition 19, so anything they propose going forward, concerning property taxes or property tax relief, we can assume is only going to benefit the California realtor community.  Not the buyers, or renters…  or owners.  This is fairly obvious. 

Frequently being the wealthiest of the wealthy, we find it ironic that many realtors in California bleat and moan about one family – the Bridges family in Los Angeles – using the one often repeated example to advance the shaky case that everyone in California benefiting from Proposition 13 and Proposition 58 are fabulously wealthy, are elderly, and are intent on buying up all the multi-million dollar beachfront properties in the state, simply to rent out to other fabulously wealthy people from other states, vacationing in Malibu or Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara, having a grand old time – while the besotted realtor community suffers terribly from the lack of homes available to them to go to market. These claims basically debunk themselves.

Moreover, as the claim goes, all because of Proposition 13… and all those rich movie stars buying up all those luxury properties so they can make a few extra dollars every month, reportedly $10,0000 to $15,000, renting out an inherited investment property, like the Bridges do, or did. Again, Bridges being the only name ever used as an example, repeatedly in articles and editorials. Or are the Bridges the only family ever to be involved in this peculiar practice?

We simply cannot figure out why these rabid critics of property tax relief, practically foaming at the mouth, cannot locate another wealthy show business family to bring up when discussing this supposedly “out of control” practice of renting out inherited beachfront properties to vacationers at fairly egregious prices.

Apparently, according to critics of Prop 13 and Prop 58, it’s all because of the families  taking advantage of the “Parent to Child Exclusion” that the real estate market has shrunk a few percentage points over the past few years.  Utilized only, they tell us, by wealthy elderly homeowners and their offspring. No one else. No middle class families, no veterans, no retired folks living on a fixed income.  

And this argument, involving the Bridges family as the sole example of a family of multi-millionaires using an inherited home as an investment property to make a few extra dollars on the side has literally remained unchanged for going on 35 years now.   A lot of people think something is awry with this picture.  So let us take a quick look at the history behind all of this…

So what does the realtor community all across the state of California do, after putting up with supposed armies of rich elderly homeowners and their grown children, renting out inherited luxury homes on the beach for decades – along with having the nerve to actually reside in their own home for decades, simply to take advantage of Proposition 13 or Prop 58, so they can avoid property tax reassessment and rent out luxury homes to upscale tourists?

Apparently also further enraging the realtor community AND the Legislature by also taking advantage of a certain Proposition 58 transfer of property – these wealthy homeowners also take terrible advantage of the California tax system by using these Prop 58 tax breaks to buyout property shares inherited by co-beneficiaries as a transfer of property between siblings – combined with the transfer of parents’ property taxes when they are in fact inheriting property taxes from a parent.

Actually “having the gall” as many critics of property tax relief would put it in the Los Angeles Times or San Fran Chronicle, to basically save a small fortune on a property tax transfer, by exercising their right to keep parents property taxes rather than pay full freight with full up-to-date market rates – paying “their fair share” without “taking advantage” of Proposition 58’s Parent to Child Transfer, or Parent to Child Exclusion.

Apparently, the Legislature and the realtor community are so hard-up for cash that all the property owners in California should be expected to pay reassessed property tax rates, adding thousands, often tens of thousands to ones’ tax bill… and not take advantage of Proposition 13 & 58. Eventually, the Legislature and their friends at the California Association of Realtors  decided something had to be done about this perpetual injustice!

So the California Association of Realtors and other supporters of  a tax measure they called Proposition 19, in 2020, raised $63.8 million ($58.6 million from CAR) and $4.9 million from the National Association of Realtors.  Opponents raised less than $50,000 to wage a political-social campaign, and finally these critics of property tax breaks took down the dreaded Parent to Child Transfer tax break – protected by the triple-dreaded Proposition 58 tax measure since 1986. They weren’t actually able to completely remove this tax break… However, they came awfully close.

Yet as residential or commercial property owners found out, after all the hysteria died down across the state, and property owners finally realize that they had in fact been bamboozled into voting for this tax measure that was turned out after all to be a hungry tax wolf disguised as a charming sheep who just wanted to help seniors and school children. BUT – they still had plenty of property tax relief options left… they were just a bit more challenging to access. Yet that really would be a political third rail. Especially after voters in California finally saw they had been deceived. 

Therefore, despite all the worrying about this, all these property tax relief options remain intact. If we inherit parents’ property from a trust or an estate we can still take advantage of Proposition 13 & 58 to access a large 6 or 7-figure loan to an irrevocable trust to buyout co-beneficiaries so we can own it solo, and keep parents low tax base… frequently without a credit report, without up-front charges, with low interest, no hidden fees, usually in just a few days, and always with very simple terms – unlike your typical bank or credit union.

As long as we have a Prop 58 friendly trust lender, for example like the Commercial Loan Corp. who can reached at 877-464-1066 so you don’t have to hunt for the number… Plus there are a few Websites besides this blog that explore the often misunderstood process of  taking full advantages of Proposition 58 Parent to Child Transfer, or Prop 193 Grandparent to Grandchild Exemption carefully covering Transfers Between Parent and Child or  Grandparent and Grandchild.

And of course there is the often used research Website, with up to date news and  information on Proposition 13 at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association  or for a formal cutting edge look at updated information exclusively vetted and imparted for California property owners, regarding property tax relief for those impacted by Covid-19, at Andersen.com… Moreover, to take advantage of Proposition 13 & 58 whenever and wherever possible!  There is no point in ignoring any property tax assistance you can receive, one way or the other!

Lowering Property Tax Rates for All Homeowners During the Pandemic

Lowering Property Tax Rates

Lowering Property Tax Rates

In California, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom signed an executive order on May 6th, 2020, to extend the deadline for homeowners who were scheduled to pay their property taxes on April 10th – and to extend business property owners’ deadline of May 7 to complete and file their business property statement. This was supposed to “provide relief for taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19”.  Moreover, Governor Newsom referred to his offer to taxpayers as “property tax relief…”

To be clear, we neither support nor oppose the governor of California here at Property Tax Transfer.  But when we hear something this blatantly disingenuous coming from any politician, we simply must question it.  Property tax relief is property tax relief.  Property tax relief is Proposition 13 or Proposition 58… Genuine property tax relief in California is the lessening, or  lowering, or complete elimination of – property taxes.  What Governor Newsom is referring to is not property tax relief… It’s  property tax deferment.  Putting off payment for a few months.  We would appreciate it very much if political leaders in California would not use such an important term as “tax relief” falsely.

Now, it is entirely possible that the Governor actually wanted to forgive payment completely for certain taxpayers. And under the severe conditions imposed on all of us due to the Coronavirus health crisis and resulting job losses, and lower income suffered by millions of workers in the state – the governor could very possibly have been besieged by political colleagues, and talked out of tax relief – into  tax deferment…  However, why not hold out and insist on giving taxpayers a real break through enhanced Proposition 58 and Proposition 13  – or actually forgive most of these property taxes completely for one  year, or at least discount them considerably?  According to state economists, it would not even have amounted to one quarter of the tax cuts the federal government gave to the wealthiest Americans two years ago!

Many economists have asked, why is it that  a few hundred billionaires and multi-millionaires recently received hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax cuts as “tax-welfare” and “corporate-welfare”, so to speak.  Yet, in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, resulting in the worst job loss disaster since the Great Depression – 160 million middle class and working class property owners received nothing even close to the trillion dollar tax cuts afforded to just a handful of mega-wealthy families only a couple of years ago.

Many financial analysts in California have pointed out that the folks in power in this state did not mind shelling out trillions then – yet now on a state level, when middle class taxpayers desperately need an obvious financial boost such as a property tax cut, or property tax break, the best our state government can do is come up with an essentially useless  tax deferment proposal, and no actual tax cut… or tax relief.  These analysts do have a point.

Local government apologists claim that the $140 billion in property taxes that California typically receives every year is urgently needed right now to pay for essential pandemic services – to cover the cost of public health departments in 58 counties; to cover public hospitals; and – to pay for the school system, which is always sort of tacked on, as if they can’t find that money anywhere else. Local California government agencies insist that they stay open only due to funding that is largely based on… property taxes.

State agencies wrote a letter to the Governor, stating, “Delaying such a large infusion of general funds for two to three months would have a serious impact on their ability to provide these services.” They did not even want to go along with the proposal for deferment that the governor suggested! 

Some folks in the press wisely asked – is not keeping millions of Californians (many whom are elderly, and living on a fixed income) from being evicted and completely losing their home not anessential pandemic service”?

Gov. Newson has forced businesses to shut down, and most certainly will again, understandably and with good intentions – sending workers home to try to slow the spread of Covid 19. Admittedly, the pandemic is out of control in California, as it is in many red states. Folks in all these states want their “freedom”… and so it looks like they are therefore free to avoid wearing masks, free to contract Coronavirus, and free to infect others.

The Governor, ignoring this mass appeal for freedom, closed down businesses back in May anyway.  As a result,  many homeowners were not able to pay their property taxes. Companies all across California have closed to comply with Governor Newsom’s shutdown order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 respiratory complications.   Yet if you’re going to close down those companies, hopefully temporarily, and send workers home at half or no pay – wouldn’t it make sense to then give those workers a significant financial break, as in increased property tax breaks… somewhere along the line, somehow? Such as Coronavirus Prop 58 and Proposition 13 property tax relief!

Certainly homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property from parents can still get a trust loan to buyout co-beneficiaries, and lock down a low property tax base… but reinstating Proposition 58, in terms of the changes Prop 19 has brought about, and adding more teeth to existing property tax breaks that can save Californians significant amounts of cash every month… Would be so relevant during a pandemic, that it’s almost absurd to have to bring it up — when it’s not even in discussion in the Congress or  the Senate.  Not to mention the California Legislature.

So… when the governor calls a two or three month property tax deferment “property tax relief”… it’s no wonder that taxpayers reacted negatively.  Property tax relief refers to lowering the amount to be paid.  Not deferring the payment date!

Governor Newsom told us recently that more than 1.6 million Californians have filed unemployment insurance claims, which the state is struggling to organize and process, to get those checks out. It’s fine to send folks that are out of work unemployment checks – they have paid into that every working week.  But wouldn’t it make even more sense to give them all a property tax break, eliminating Proposition 19 restrictions in light of the Covid outcomes? Preferably forever… But at least as long as the Covid virus rages?

Loans for Irrevocable Trusts

Loans for homes in an irrevocable trust

Loans for homes in an irrevocable trust

According to financial leaders who own firms that provide loans for irrevocable trusts and property tax relief programs, in concert with Proposition 58, Prop 193, and Proposition 13 – typically saving  homeowners over $8,500 in extra taxes every year – the news is that property owners in California should consider accomplishing any property transfers to heirs, that may be planned either as a sale, a gift or an inheritance, or a hybrid – prior to or by Feb. 15, 2021…

Feb. 15th being the final day one can access original Proposition 58 or Prop 193 property tax break benefits – to save money on the initial transfer, plus thousands of dollars on yearly property taxes, as the tax assessor comes around to collect, so to speak.  

To reiterate, as you probably already know, Proposition 58 allows parents in California to transfer property to their children without triggering a property tax reassessment. And as you most likely are aware, you must be the son or daughter of a parent that resides, and owns property, in California – in order to qualify for a “parent to child exclusion” (also referred to as a parent to child exemption) – from reassessment, in terms of the current market value of family owned real property.

Conversely, Proposition 193 allows grandparents to transfer property to their grandchildren, with a “grandparent to grandchild exemption” – without having to worry about current market property tax reassessment.  It’s worth noting that the Proposition 193 exclusion is workable only if the Proposition 58 exemption cannot be used.  In other words, to put it bluntly, parents of the grandchildren in question must be deceased.  That may sound harsh, however it is important to know the facts.

To be safe and secure, experts are telling us right now to be aware of certain changes to the Proposition 58 “parent to child exclusion” tax break – and to remain aware of time as a serious factor. We are told that we should view Feb. 15, 2021 as a formal deadline for completing a family property transfer or intra-family trust for a trust loan – not for paperwork signatures, or a postmark date. With potential county closures mounting up, the completion of this sort of transaction in person could very well continue to be a challenge, and backlogs affecting paperwork sent through the mail could be an issue at some point.  

As of February 16, 2021, family property transfers must be used as a primary residence, to avoid property tax reassessment at current market value; maintaining the invaluable right to avoid property tax reassessment.  Fortunately, Californians will still be able to take advantage of a property tax break as long as they are using inherited property as a primary residence, within a year of the passing of the decedent who is leaving the property to his or her children; typically as an inheritance.    

However, we do need to be aware that it is the next generation of property owners, in the future, that may incur higher property taxes due to new tax laws, or shall we say a revised version of the same   property tax break protected by CA Proposition 58.  The point being, with new changes to property tax law in California, with the right to avoid property tax reassessment being challenged and even partially unraveled, it has  become more important than ever to consult or work with Prop 58 and property tax relief experts that are knowledgeable in all trust loan, Proposition 58 and Proposition 13 matters… who maintain a grasp of property tax law changes, and how those shifts impact beneficiaries and property owners in the state of California.    

Home ownership for middle class Americans has mushroomed and developed at a breakneck pace, as the gold centerpiece that represents The American Dream…. Yet it is property tax breaks, and property tax relief for the middle class in the state of California – that has kept that dream alive.

PART TWO: The CA Proposition 15 Split-Roll “Trojan Horse” Commercial Property Tax is Coming Up for a Vote!

2020 California Proposition 15

2020 California Proposition 15

Gifting & Inheriting Property: Property Tax Relief Basics

Gifting your primary house, or secondary inherited property to your adult children – is it worth it?  We imagine for many it is, otherwise why would they do it?  And for others, well… what can you say, it’s simply a matter of subjective opinion.  And let’s never  forget that under Proposition 13 in California you can get the same low tax base benefits applied to your first primary residence inheritance to a secondary inherited property.  So there are built in benefits. 

Also, there are emotional reasons not just financial ones involved in all this…  It’s a real gift of love that often leads to an even closer relationship. And your offspring should realize that, and most probably do. In simple terms, it may be a principal residence, and that type of transfer may actually cause future tax appreciation of the value of that home, as a taxable item, when it might otherwise have avoided property tax reassessment if the property had remained in the decedent’s name with Proposition 13 transfer of property tax relief benefits. 

Nationwide Property Tax Relief Urgently Needed for Residential & Commercial Property Owners in a Severe, Pandemic Economy

This is the biggest problem for most beneficiaries, middle class  property owners and elderly home owners – i.e., property taxes; transfer taxes; etc.  This often forces folks to sell a beloved inherited property, as they simply can’t afford to pay the taxes on it every year, deal with utilities, upkeep, repairs, and so on.

We should all address the fact that, especially now, in the midst of an unprecedented Pandemic, with literally tens of millions of Americans out of work or  under-employed – with over 12 million people staring down the dark tunnel of foreclosure or eviction – every state in the union should be adopting, without delay, the same sort of property tax relief as California’s 1978 Proposition 13, as well as other critical property tax relief measures such as CA Proposition 58 property tax transfer benefits, voted into law in 1986.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s worth noting that these tax relief measures have become life-savers to property owners, as well as renters who enjoy lower rentals due to the ability their landlords have to avoid property tax reassessment.  We’re all aware of what things were like pre-1978, before Proposition 13 came about and began preventing the frequent foreclosures of the 1970’s, where we saw numerous elderly widows with fixed incomes being thrown out of their homes, literally onto the street, because they could not afford to pay egregiously high, unpredictable property taxes.

In fact, most middle class home owners at that time had trouble paying unusually high tax rates, and lived year to year with the shadow of the California ‘property tax guillotine’ looming over their heads.  In fact that is exactly what the situation looks like in many states now,  or in many expensive counties.  This is where the major problem is with most middle class estates, not with estate planning. Without property tax benefits, as in California, many beneficiaries inheriting property from parents simply can’t afford the upkeep and property taxes on an inherited home, and frequently are forced to sell their parents’ property right away. Often against their will.
 
We hear a great deal of chatter lately, among realtors and real estate attorneys in various states, about “adopting a property tax shelter” for all property tax transfers, when inheriting a home from a parent.  Or we can simply call it “property tax relief” similar to property tax benefits that are taken for granted in California; with Proposition 13, or during a property tax transfer or a sibling property share buyout; utilizing CA Proposition 58, and a trust loan – keeping property taxes much lower on a permanent basis, avoiding property tax reassessment basically forever.  

Beneficiaries who are inheriting property from a parent or step-parent  in any of the 58 counties in the state of California are generally protected from property tax reassessment. And have a low tax base to look forward to, not to exceed 2% as stipulated by California Proposition 13.

And let’s not forget having the ability to make good use of a loan to an irrevocable trust, working in concert with Proposition 58, something a lot of people don’t know anything about. With trust loans from trust lenders being used to equalize cash to beneficiaries looking to sell an inherited property held up by beneficiaries of the same trust, looking to keep the same inherited home and/or land… For once making scenarios like that a win-win situation for everyone associated with an estate or trust, with a trust loan from a reliable trust lender. Instead of experiencing problematic family conflicts revolving around property issues. 

Residential & Business Property Tax Breaks in All States

Beneficiaries and home owners, as well as commercial and industrial property owners of all types, all across America, should be getting familiar with the way they implement property tax breaks in California. How they handle having the right to keep parents property taxes, to transfer parents property taxes, when inheriting property taxes. If, by any chance you reside in California, and you happen to be a beneficiary inheriting property from your parents, consider yourself very lucky. This is why so many real estate lawyers in various locations these days strongly believe every state should have a property tax measure similar to Proposition 13 transfer of property and inheriting property taxes; and Proposition 58 property transfer tax benefits. 

So if every state in the United States had a Proposition 13 and Prop 58 type of property tax relief system… and could make good use of ancillary tax breaks such as buying out inherited property shares from siblings intent on selling out — through a loan to a trust, from a specialty trust lender; using a trust loan in conjunction with Proposition 58 to permanently solidify a low property tax base, made possible by Proposition 13; given the legal right (in every state, not just California)  to avoid property tax reassessment.

Therefore, every property owner in America dealing with inherited property in trust or in an estate; perhaps also addressing sibling conflicts revolving around who wants to keep inherited property versus who insists on selling, and who can buyout whom, using a trust loan, in order to keep inherited property in the family; avoiding property tax reassessment basically forever.  Everyone with these types of sibling property conflicts or property tax issues of any kind, even just the ability to pay them – would walk away happy… and for once all estate or trust family related conflicts would wind up as a win-win inheritance scenario, every single time these property tax measures were employed.

>> Click Here for Part Three…

PART TWO: Coronavirus Crisis is the Last Thing the California Real Estate Market Needed!

California Real Estate

California Real Estate

As the Coronavirus crisis worsens and deepens month after month,   the death toll rises, crunching up the economy in every state, like a giant invisible lawn mower, paralyzing the real estate market, and shredding other businesses, throughout California and the entire country… With millions of Americans filing for unemployment every week – property owners in every state in America should be looking closely at how property tax relief is accomplished in California, inheriting property taxes from parents; how these types of tax breaks would benefit folks in other states.

At least in California there is a cure for conflicts between sibling  beneficiaries – usually revolving around who wants to sell an inherited home, versus who insists on retaining that property, given emotional and sentimental ties.  And these sibling conflicts can get very, very ugly. 

However, when you mix these “sell or keep” inherited property issues with normal up & down sales cycles in the real estate market as a whole… with shrinkage in home sales being blamed on seniors retaining property, supposedly “all elderly and wealthy”,  and with Proposition 13 taking the lion’s share of the blame – with the focus on avoiding property tax reassessment, taking advantage of parent-to-child transfer of property, inheriting property taxes from parents; or parent-to-child exclusion as realtors refer to it (meaning exclusion from present-day tax rates).  Clearly, these illogical allegations do not add up. 

It’s clear to most Californians (with the exception of the folks that write for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times; and the special interest politicians that they support) that the 1978 Howard Jarvis supported CA Proposition 13 property tax relief serves the wealthy and middle class alike – and might be just the thing American home owners need right now, floundering in the throes of an unprecedented Pandemic, to take some financial pressure off most Americans, who obviously are not wealthy.

Property tax relief would be especially important and helpful to  residents of other states who have been furloughed at zero, or 50%, salary due to the Pandemic… Or who are unemployed, yet still must pay property taxes on time, with no payment plan allowed, under duress, without a Proposition 13 or Prop 58 type of tax break to help them out in a time of great need.

In states other than California, home owners whose property is not free and clear, who are paying off a mortgage right now plus paying off high property taxes – are particularly in severe trouble as the virus rages across America and the world.  With a lack of federal leadership in the United States causing even greater economic difficulties  and personal tragedy.   

Naturally, from the point of view of California home owners and business owners, keeping their property tax rate at a low and  predictable 2% maximum cap is as American as apply pie – and most property owners questioned will agree this type of tax relief should be passed into law in every single state in America.  No questions asked. 

Moreover, it’s obvious to most Californians that renters in California also benefit from Proposition 13… And agree that if the Split-Roll property tax were passed  in California and business property owners including landlords lost their property tax breaks  afforded by Proposition 13, we’d see rents go sky-high all across the state, from San Diego and Los Angeles, up to San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

And despite what various  newspapers in California say in Editorials about Proposition 13 – this is not a rich person’s tax shelter.  It’s strictly an “everybody” tax relief measure. 1978 Proposition 13 (not to be confused with the “coincidental” Proposition 13 Split-Roll business and commercial property tax) holds property taxes down every year to a 2% cap, thankfully, or  a great deal of Californians would not be able to afford to hold on to inherited property from parents. 

Now that the Covid 19 virus crisis is on the rise again, then off, then on again… unpredictable and burning through the job based economy like a giant Los Angeles brush fire gone out of control – it’s obvious that every state in the  union needs to have property tax breaks like the CA Proposition 13 parent-to-child exclusion, as realtors call it… as well as property tax transfer tax-relief made possible by the 1986 California Proposition 58 tax shelter, where  beneficiaries of trusts and heirs of estates inheriting property taxes from parents will often opt for a loan to an irrevocable trust to buyout siblings who wish to sell off their inherited property shares, and end up paying low taxes on property tax transfer from parents – having the right to transfer parents property taxes to themselves, upon inheriting property taxes from their Mom or Dad. With that incredible ability, basically forever, to keep on paying low yearly property taxes for as long as they retain that inherited property, as well as a secondary inherited property, if that property is inherited from a parent as well. 

What other state makes property tax relief like this possible?  In a word… none.  Why is property tax relief available in California, and  yet nowhere else in America?  This is exactly what Americans need right now, in a recession that looks more and more like a depression that is a direct byproduct of a Pandemic no one was prepared for, and that leaders were late in the game to address.

>> Click Here for Part Three…

Part Four: As Attacks on Proposition 13 & Proposition 58 Falter and Weaken, Critics Continue On – Despite Growing Popular Support for Property Tax Relief

Proposition 58 and Proposition 13 in California

Proposition 58 and Proposition 13 in California

Even as property tax transfer increases in popularity, and Californians continue to take advantage of Proposition 13 and Proposition 58, for residential and commercial property tax relief, critics of these property  tax shelters continue to be rabidly, and in many ways irrationally, irate with the same basic tax relief afforded to agricultural and industrial facilities, as well as other commercial properties, throughout California.

Moreover, all tax shelter benefits made possible by California Proposition 58 and Proposition 193 are equally unpopular with critics, with respect to parent to child exclusion (from property tax reassessment, Prop 58) and grandparent to grandchild transfer rights (avoiding  property tax reassessment, Prop 193).

On the other hand, countless property owners across California with different levels of income and property values, all enjoy the same ability to avoid property tax reassessment; so naturally property tax transfer increases in popularity, as Californians never have to pay property taxes based on present day property evaluations.

California home owners and business property owners are equally thrilled with Proposition 13 and 58 tax shelter protection… and frequently take advantage of these tax benefits by engaging with a trust lender, for a trust distribution loan, a trust loan made only possible by this type of tax relief. Loans to trusts, loans to irrevocable trusts in many cases, under protections afforded by Proposition 58, with parent to child, property tax transfer, tax relief; and Proposition 193 tax benefits, covering grandparent to grandchild property tax transfer.

Despite critics working off opinions, bias, and a lack of data other than purely anecdotal evidence,  they frequently claim to the media that property tax relief is the sole cause of state and local government tax revenue shortages, local California  government pension under-funding, the shrinkage of homes being available in the real estate market… and several other related items.

However, economists working off of verified data and statistics have looked this issue from a local and state tax-revenue-to-government perspective, and have stated repeatedly that the reason for any real estate market shrinking is largely due to economic trending; although they also concede that some shrinkage in the home market  is also somewhat affected by property tax shelters, although to a lesser degree.

Analysts and  economists, addressing claims of government revenue shortages, note that California city municipal workers, and state government employees, are actually at a higher salary rate than equivalent government workers in other states are. They say many California government jobs base rates, bonuses, raises and pension plans are way above national averages… and that this is the cause of any under-funding or shortages in government public funding and spending.

Some California economists have said, in compiling studies on the subject, that California government employees are the highest paid state and city employees in the country, with the most comprehensive benefits, as well as retirement benefits, and the most expensive pension plans in the country.

California state budgets, year after year, consistently surpass state spending records – and the California educational system is now enjoying a 66% increase, reportedly over the next six years. Public services are inferior in California, not because of Proposition 13 property tax decreases and tax relief for residential and commercial property owners – but because of political preferences, special interest groups and internal over-spending. Over-spending is the realistic cause of any problems arising from under budgeting and under-funding.