Transferring Low Property Taxes to Heirs & Replacement Homes

California Property Taxes

California Property Taxes

For Californians that are still confused by some of the complicated tax breaks and property tax relief changes, additions and deletions. A high-level summary, boiled down to its’ essential key elements, might help:

Expansion of Property Tax Base Transfers

There have been unexpected limitations to former Proposition 58 tax breaks (now under Proposition 19) such as the parent-child transfer, or parent-to-child exclusion from paying current property tax rates, for beneficiaries inheriting their parents’ home, property tax transfer, the right to transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes, when inheriting property, hence inheriting property taxes, to keep parents property taxes, or the right to buyout  siblings’ share of inherited property with a loan to an irrevocable trust in conjunction with Prop 19.

Some limitations now exist where there were none previously, however these benefits are all still intact as genuine property tax relief for beneficiaries inheriting a home from parents, or homeowners transferring a low property tax base from an old home to a new replacement home.  

Surprisingly progressive property tax relief measures  provided by Proposition 19 allow homeowners who are over 55 years of age, or disabled, or victims of a wildfire or natural disasters such as an earthquake or flood… to transfer the lower assessed property value of their original primary home – to a recently purchased or recently built primary replacement residence. Up to three times (or once per disaster).

And, increased from the previous property tax measure which limited portability only to certain approved counties, ones’ tax base may be transferred to a property located anywhere in the state.  Besides being able to transfer the taxable value of their existing primary residence to a new replacement primary residence of any value, anywhere across all 58 counties in the state of California. The exclusion can be filed up to three times by property owners over age 55, or severely disabled.

However. The opportunity to use a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood, or wildfire, for the same tax break turns out to be a rather dubious benefit for eligible homeowners.  Because  it’s highly unlikely that one family or single homeowner will be hit by a natural disaster or wildfire more than once, even though severe damage from a forest fire or wildfire could very easily occur, residing in Southern California.

Although, when getting on in years, or being disabled, knowing you can transfer your low property tax base three times is a nice benefit to have in your back pocket, knowing you can use it if you need to. It’s just not a terribly realistic tax break, that’s all.

Prop 19 dramatically changed two property tax measures, administered by County Tax Assessors for years:

a) Parent-Child Transfers & Grandparent-Grandchild Property Transfers, effective February 16, 2021;

b) Senior Citizen and Disaster Relief Tax Base Property Transfers, effective April 1, 2021.

Parent/Child Transfers & Grandparent/Grandchild Transfers

Under Proposition 19,  to inherit a lower property assessment from parent(s) or grandparent(s), these requirements have to be completed:  

a) An inherited Property must be the primary residence of parents or grandparents

b) Inherited property must become the primary residence of the child or grandchild heir inside 12-months

c) Only the principal residence of a parent(s) or grandparent(s) qualifies for a base year value transfer. Other property, residential or commercial no longer qualify for this benefit. This provision applies to transfers starting Feb. 16, 2021

Parent-child transfer & grandparent-grandchild transfer forms

Property Transfer Tax Assessments

Proposition 19 expanded and revised rules for tax assessment transfers in California.  Eligible homeowners used to be able to transfer their tax assessments to a different home of the same or lesser market value, which allowed them to move without paying higher taxes.

Homeowners who were eligible for tax assessment transfers are persons over 55 years old, persons with severe disabilities, and victims of natural disasters and hazardous waste contamination.  Any homeowner of any age can buyout siblings’ share of inherited property through a trust loan, in conjunction with Proposition19, in California.

New property tax measures allow eligible homeowners to transfer their tax assessments to a home anywhere  in the state and allow tax assessments to be transferred to a more expensive home  bearing in mind an upward adjustment. The number of times that a tax assessment can be transferred increased from one to three times for homeowners age 55 and over, or with severe disabilities.  

These new tax breaks will impact farms as of Feb 16, 2023, the $1,000,000 amount will be adjusted each year at a rate equal to the change in the California House Price Index.

CA Property Tax Revenue

Proposition 19 introduced the California Fire Response Fund and County Revenue Protection Fund. The CA Director of Finance has to add up extra revenue and savings from the new property tax law. The State Controller has to fund the Fire Response Fund with 75% of the determined revenue, with 15% going to the County Revenue Protection Fund.

The County Revenue Protection Fund is supposedly going to be used to reimburse counties for losses in revenue associated with  changes to property taxes. The Fire Response Fund is to be used for full-time fire station staff.

Transfer of Property Tax Base

One other component under Proposition 19 allows homeowners who are over 55 years of age, disabled, or victims of a wildfire or natural disaster, to transfer the lower assessed property value of their primary home to a newly purchased or newly constructed replacement principal residence up to three times (or once per disaster). The tax base may be transferred to a property located anywhere in the state.

A Solution For Common Inheritance Disagreements

A Solution For Common Inheritance Disagreements

A Solution For Common Inheritance Disagreements

Many of us who work with estates, heirs and beneficiaries; supplying members of estates with various financial services, loans or cash advance services mainly — frequently see a large number of estates with family problems, typically surfacing in the form of one or more heirs attempting to get more than their fair share of inherited assets, in any number of various illicit or unethical ways.

We see co-heirs insisting they should be receiving a higher percentage of inherited property, or more from a cash account than was apparently written into the will.  We frequently identify conspiracies within estates experiencing problem like this; often between brothers, to illicitly remove inherited assets from another heir, often a vulnerable, formerly trusting sister, more often than we’d like to see.

We often see siblings hiring their own lawyers to ward off siblings that are attempting to receive a larger amount of inherited assets than their fair share.  A pricey but necessary expense. In short, this is a rarely reported problem of inheritance pilfering that, if successful, can cost victimized beneficiaries or heirs a great deal.

We can assume these situations reflect families that tend to not get along very well, and yet you hear time and time again that these siblings got along very well until a parent passes away and inheritance cash became an issue. 

Beneficiaries waiting for an inheritance often claim they got along well with their siblings until a cash inheritance materialized, and then squabbling began and grew into a genuinely heated conflict; with heirs blatantly attempting to help themselves to inherited assets reportedly belonging to other heirs.

This is where a popular solution to estate problems between siblings is introduced — to simply buyout problematic siblings, for  far more than an ordinary buyer would be likely to offer.  As most of us know by now, this involves a loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust lender; used in concert with Proposition 19, formerly with Proposition 58. 

This often initiated by one heir who wishes to keep their parent’s home in the family, while buying out property shares being inherited by frequently unwanted co-beneficiaries with a large  loan to an irrevocable trust… Heirs looking to keep their parents property generally try to get in under the wire, or seek legal counsel, to take advantage of property tax transfer, their right to transfer parents property taxes, and keep parents property taxes.  Inheriting property taxes through a parent to child property tax transfer child transfer and parent-child exclusion, to avoid property tax reassessment.

This process generally involves a fairly large 6-figure to 7-figure loan to an irrevocable trust, in conjunction with a parent-to-child exclusion (from property tax reassessment at current or fair market rates) – providing enough cash to create an equal trust distribution to all beneficiaries being bought out.

New CA Property Tax Relief Transferring Low Property Tax Values

Transferring A Parents Property Tax Value In California

Transferring A Parents Property Tax Value In California

2022 Tax Relief: Inherited Properties & Replacement Homes

The 2021 CA constitutional amendment, Proposition 19, otherwise known as the “Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act”, expands a surprising number of tax breaks (with respect to “replacement residence” tax relief benefits) mainly for homeowners over age 55 or suffering from a severe disability… making it possible to transfer a low property tax base from an original home to a new residence, or “replacement home”.

Californians also able to take advantage of expanded property tax breaks are homeowners with a damaged or completely destroyed home, caused by a natural disaster such as a flood, earthquake, or wildfire, can now move to a replacement residence, up to three time – in any of California’s 58 counties, expanded from previous limits of only ten counties allowing the transfer of a low property tax base to a new residence. This is actually quite ironic, as senior and elderly Americans, and folks with disabilities, generally find themselves either ignored or on the short end of the stick, so to speak. So this represents a societal shift, for the better.

However, it is important to point out that Proposition 19 also imposes new limits on property tax benefits for inherited family property, limiting uses of the popular 1986 Proposition 58 “parent-to-child exclusion” from reassessed (i.e., increased) property taxes; limiting parent-to-child transfers of property by narrowing usage in various ways.

This necessitates primary or principal residence (as opposed to owning and renting out investment properties) for both parents and beneficiaries, along with some other, minor, limitations.  On the other hand, beneficiaries do have a full year to move into an inherited primary home, only requiring a minimum of one heir to move in.

Buying Out Siblings & Keeping a Low Property Tax Base

Moreover, beneficiaries still have the ability to keep their parents’ family home, with their parents’ low property tax base, while taking advantage of Prop 19’s parent-to-child exclusion;  always staying focused on inheriting property taxes from parents during a typical  property tax transfer. Avoiding property tax reassessment being a top priority at all times.  For many beneficiaries getting a loan to a trust is critical, generally to buyout problematic co-beneficiaries insisting on selling their inherited property shares.

This typically involves a 6-figure or 7-figure loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust & estate lender, for example like industry leader Commercial Loan Corp, working in conjunction with Proposition 19 – supplying beneficiaries who are selling their inherited property shares with more money than a conventional buyer is likely to offer.

Avoiding a realtor, bypassing their standard 6% commission, and side-stepping the usual legal fees and transaction charges, leaves a good deal more cash, from a trust loan, to equalize beneficiaries selling their share of inherited property.  Basically, a win-win transaction all the way around.

Property Tax Relief Forms

  1. BOE-19-B, Claim for Transfer of Base Year Value to Replacement Primary Residence for Persons at Least Age 55 Years[External PDF]
  2. BOE-19-C, Certification of Value by Assessor for Base Year Value Transfer[External PDF]
  3. BOE-19-D, Claim for Transfer of Base Year Value to Replacement Primary Residence for Severely Disabled Persons[External PDF]
  4. BOE-19-DC, Certificate of Disability[External PDF]
  5. BOE-19-V, Claim for Transfer of Base Year Value to Replacement Primary Residence for Victims of Wildfire or Other Natural Disaster[External PDF]
  6. BOE-60-NR, Notice of Rescission of Claim to Transfer Base Year Value to Replacement Dwelling Under Revenue and Taxation Code Section 69.5 (Propositions 60/90/110)[External PDF]
  7. BOE-502-A Preliminary Change in Ownership Report[External PDF]
  8. BOE-502-AH Change in Ownership Statement[External PDF]
  9. BOE-502-D Change in Ownership Statement Death of Real Property Owner[External PDF]

Base Year Value Transfers for Homeowners 55+ or Disabled

Proposition 60/90 and 110 allowed persons over 55 or severely and permanently disabled persons to transfer the taxable value of their existing home to their new replacement home, so long as the market value of the new home is equal to or less than the existing home’s value and located in one of ten tax relief portability approved counties in California.

That left 48 counties not participating with tax breaks allowing the transfer of a low property tax base from an original home to a new replacement residence. When dealing with damage from a natural disaster like the wildfires California has been contending with lately… Or simply because you’re over the age of 55,  or suffering from a serious physical disability.

Of course the good news is that Proposition 19 now allows eligible homeowners to transfer the taxable value of their existing home to their new replace, and wish to move to a replacement home, or to new residence – of any value, anywhere within the state, up to three times (rather than once, with limited county choices and limited assessed dollar values – as it used to be until 2021).

Age 55+ and Disability Tax Relief Forms

  1. Claim for Transfer of Base Year Value to Replacement Primary Residence for Persons at Least Age 55 Years: BOE 19-D[External PDF]
  2. Claim for Transfer of Base Year Value to Replacement Primary Residence for Severely Disabled Persons: BOE 19V[External PDF]
  3. Certificate of Disability: BOE 19DC[External PDF]

Disaster Relief

Proposition 50 stipulated that a base year value of a home or property that is legitimately destroyed, or damaged beyond the point of residing there, by a disaster or wildfire verified as legitimate by the Governor may be transferred to comparable property within the same county.

Proposition 171 stated that the transfer of the base year value of a principal residence to one of 10 counties that has adopted these tax breaks. However, Proposition 19 now permits homeowners to move to a “replacement home” of higher assessed value than a previous primary residence – and transfer the lower tax base with an adjustment for the value difference when a home is damaged or destroyed by a wildfire or some other natural disaster.

Proposition 19 is covered at California State Board of Equalization  
Natural Disaster and Replacement Residence Form



Property Ownership that is Excluded from Reassessment

Inheriting Property Taxes in California

Inheriting Property Taxes in California

California residents voted Proposition 19 (Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 11), into law on Nov 3, 2020 – and became active on Feb 16, 2021; changing the parent-to-child exclusion and adding other tax relief exemptions involved with inheriting property taxes in California.

Reassessment Exclusions and Property Tax Exemptions

Regardless of revisions of any kind, an exclusion from property  reassessment at current property tax rates still allows parents to transfer their primary residence or in certain cases a “family farm” – to their children, as heirs avoiding full reassessment; as long as they move into their home as a primary residence once the property transfer is complete, or if it’s a farm, as long as they continue to use that property legitimately as a functional farm.

If a home is being transferred, heirs have to claim a “homeowner’s exemption” to prove that that the home is being used as a primary or principal residence. As most people know by now, this exclusion is now under limitations as to the assessed value of the home, plus $1,000,000. Even if all the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed the home will be reassessed at current market value if it exceeds the existing assessed value plus $1,000,000. Moreover, the “Claim for Reassessment Exclusion” and “Claim for Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption” must be completed and filed.

Pro Rata & Non Pro Rata Distribution

Even though the parent-to-child exclusion (i.e., parent-child exemption) applies to non pro rata trust distributions from a parent to their children (heirs) – this never applies to transfers between siblings… So many think it’s better to give the trustee managing the trust the power to distribute equal cash assets to the heirs as pro rata distribution, rather than allow a trustee to give the children different values… 

Of course, when a trust loan is applied to the process in conjunction with Proposition 19 (formerly Prop 58, passed in 1986), it is as pro rata distribution, so all beneficiaries selling off their inherited property shares will receive equal revenues from the sale, typically from one heir, or multiple beneficiaries, looking to keep their inherited parental property, while keeping their parent’s low property tax base, as stipulated and protected by CA Proposition 13. 

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment & Property Tax Hikes

As long as a beneficiary moves into an inherited home as a primary residence within 12-months of the passing of the parent, the beneficiary can transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes when inheriting parental property and subsequently inheriting property taxes in California. A  property tax transfer (inheriting property taxes in California) still goes hand in hand in California with a parent-child transfer, namely a parent-to-child exclusion, to avoid property tax reassessment or fair market property tax rates. 

Which is why it is so important to keep up with correct information on any current property tax hikes…  Plus, staying current with any new releases from the Legislature regarding property tax breaks, or new rules for property tax transfers.  Moreover,  it really is critical to keep up to date on all pertinent, accurate  and timely property tax news and resources for transferring property taxes in California

Working With a CA Trust Lender or Property Tax Consultant

A pro rata distribution of the assets of an estate means that each heir receives an equal portion of each asset in the estate. A non pro rata distribution means that each heir receives an equal proportion of the entire estate but not necessarily of each asset.

Should the children of the grantor parents decide to trade properties after the distribution of the trust – any real estate will certainly be reassessed.  That’s why it’s so important to have a trust lender or a property tax consultant at your side before you plunge into all of this, if you are a middle class homeowner and can’t afford an expensive real estate attorney. That’s perfectly understandable.  Join the crowd…

CA Property Transfer Benefits Expanded by Proposition 19

Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

Prop 19 Property Tax Breaks

As most of us know by now, yet it does merit repeating – a parent-child exclusion is not the only key tax break offered by Proposition 19.  California homeowners age 55 plus, or  who are victims of a validated natural disaster such as an earthquake or heavy flooding, or who are extremely disabled – who are looking to transfer their property taxes to a new home now have direct access to additional tax relief options. 

Proposition 19 Popular Property Tax Relief Expansion

Some previous tax benefits are now expanded. A transfer by homeowners when purchasing a new, higher priced primary residence, with adjusted numbers to update values, no longer has to be a home of equal or lower value; and a property transfer like this can be implemented up to three times, not merely once as with previous limitations.

Victims of natural disasters verified by the Governor of California no longer have any limits, as far as counties are concerned. There tax breaks can now be used in any of California’s 58 counties, no longer limited to ordinance approved counties as before – and may be utilized between any two counties, from original home to new property.

New Proposition 19 Property Tax Relief Opportunities 

As long as Californians qualify for, and file, their Homeowner’s Exemption or Disabled Veterans’ Exemption inside 12 months of transfer of ownership; plus make an inherited home their principal residence, as opposed to an investment property – they can avoid property tax reassessment.

Moreover, they have plenty of time – 12 months, to move in. Also, family farm transfers are permissible under this exclusion – without having to move in as a primary residence.

However, due to the possibility of triggering reassessment and being hit with current tax rates, it’s critical to enlist the assistance of a trust lender like the Commercial Loan Corp in Newport Beach for instance, to determine if a loan to an irrevocable trust, in conjunction with Proposition 19 tax breaks, will serve as a reliable means to keep an inherited home from parents with a low Proposition 13 protected property tax base. 

There is also a superior financing solution available to buyout siblings who wish to sell their inherited property shares… at a much higher price than an outside buyer would offer, thanks to the elimination of a realtor managing the process, and their 6% fee, plus pricey legal costs; etc.

Keeping a Low Property Tax Base With an Irrevocable Trust

It’s crucial to enlist the help of a tax attorney, or a property tax consultant, or a trust lender, to find an alternative tax avenue –     to avoid egregious tax hikes at current reassessed rates.  For example, a CA family home assessed today at $50,000 – with a yearly property tax of $600 – could actually be re-assessed today at $750,000 – with an annual tax burden of $9,000!

An experienced trust lender can help middle class families with an irrevocable trust, working in conjunction with Proposition 19 and Prop 13, to establish a low property tax base, and even buyout property shares from co-beneficiaries.  We’re talking about homeowners that have on average less than $700 in the bank at any given time; who don’t  have deep pockets… who need to avoid severe property tax increases, with the danger of possibly losing a beloved house due to an inability to pay for such yearly taxes.

Even a regular trust, like a Qualified Personal Residence Trust,  permits  a parent to transfer a primary residence to a trust that allows that residence to be occupied by that parent for a set amount of years. At the close of that set number of years, the residence transfers back to the heir and when that heir becomes the sole owner, they qualify for a parent-to-child exclusion, as a primary home owner.

CA Property Tax Relief Options With Trust Lenders

Besides assisting beneficiaries with a parent-child exclusion and a low parental property tax base, a trust lender will help sibling co-beneficiaries looking to sell inherited property with trust loan funding that will provide them with far more cash than an outside buyer would offer – otherwise known to realtors and attorneys as “buying out a sibling’s share of inherited property” or a “sibling to sibling property transfer” as well as a “transfer of property between siblings”.

A seasoned property tax consultant like Michael Wyatt Consulting or a trust lender specializing In loans to trusts and estates such as Commercial Loan Corp, for example, can help families inheriting real estate in California to fully understand how to safely avoid property tax reassessment, plus how to transfer parents property taxes on a standard Proposition 19 property tax transfer when inheriting property taxes.  Likewise, how to keep parents property taxes basically forever, utilizing a parent-to-child transfer and a parent-child exclusion under Prop 19. Prior to 2021, a parent-child exclusion was strictly under the auspices of the wildly popular Proposition 58.

Again, this is where a trust lender comes in very handy (frequently referred by a property tax consultant or an estate lawyer – to insure that each critical step along the way is taken correctly, keeping a low property tax base; avoiding property reassessment.

Identifying & Accessing CA Property Tax Breaks

California Proposition 19

California Proposition 19

Californians more or less take for granted the fact that the tax breaks provided by property tax measure Proposition 13, passed by a veritable landslide by voters in 1978 – locks in a home’s “base-year value” to reflect what it was when the real estate changed ownership most recently. As we all know, this caps yearly property tax increases at a 2% tax rate – up until the time the property changes ownership again.  All property tax relief measures in California exist to allow property owners of all kind to continue avoiding property reassessment.

As most of also know by now, the portion of property that is transferred, upon changing ownership, is reappraised to current market value. Obviously, if that real property has appreciated in value since the new transfer – the outcome could be a serious increase in the new owner’s property tax bill!

On the other hand, California does allow for exceptional property tax exclusions to the rules and regulations that now govern a change in ownership for married or unmarried couples, families and property co-owners that wish to avoid property tax hikes. Naturally, there are requirements. California’s property tax exemptions are written into the California State Constitution (Article-13), unlike many other states, which utilize exclusions  from property reassessment that are controlled by state tax laws  or local rules and regulations. 

California initiatives managed by County Tax Assessors, that are based on personal, individual data, as opposed to state statutes, would be, for example:

A primary residence: of which the initial $7,000 of the full value of a home is excluded, or exempt, from property tax.

Combat Veterans: can qualify for a substantial exemption. This can be claimed by someone serving presently in the military who is no longer serving, but has been honorably discharged. The same applies, under similar requirements, to an unmarried surviving spouse or the parent of a veteran that is deceased. Although, whomever is submitting the claim cannot own real estate or personal property that exceeds more than $5,000 if the claimant is single, or $10,000 for a couple that is submitting.

Disabled veterans: can receive a larger exemption. Exactly what that number is depends on income, age, and specifics regarding the disability. BOE website explains as follows – https://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/dv_exemption.htm#Description

Senior Homeowners: over the age of 55 who purchase a new primary residence in any of the 58 counties in California, and sell that residence, can transfer the base-year value to the new primary residence – if the value of that property is equal to, or lesser than, the value of the previous home… Or if it is newly constructed inside of 2-years from the sale of the original home. As the BOE discusses on their site

Family transfers: are usually described in real estate or tax literature as children leaving property to parents, and parents to their children, but we all know 99% of the time it is a parent leaving a home or business property to their children/heirs.

Proposition 19: which was Proposition 58, still allows your surviving parent to leave you their primary residence – thereby  avoiding  property reassessment as long as you’re moving in as your primary residence, with an entire year to settle in.  Upon inheriting property taxes under these requirements, property tax transfer will typically result in the ability to transfer parents property taxes successfully – to keep parents property taxes for as long as the residence is resided in by the inheritor.

Avoiding property reassessment, similar to a Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer, is also possible if you inherit a home from your grandparents – however,  only should both your parents be deceased.  If the difference between the inherited property’s assessed value and current market value is over $1,000,000 upon inheritance and property-transfer, the newly assessed value will be its final current market value, minus $1,000,000.

Disaster relief: In some counties, if your home has been substantially damaged or destroyed by a disaster, you qualify for a reduced assessment.

What Brought About CA Property Tax Relief & Where is it Going?

California homes are valued at high prices these days, and frankly most of these properties do seem to retain their high value, in comparison to lower-priced homes in many other states, for example in the Midwest, in the Deep South… way up north in New England, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, where families can purchase a multi-bedroom home on an acre or two of land in a decent neighborhood for a very reasonable price, at low 6-figures.

Proposition 13 and the Statewide CA Property Tax Rate Cap

Even so, many California homes now have a “taxable value” that is lower than the average American market value (i.e., in other states). However, these values are deceptive as this is only due to Proposition 13 being  voted into law in 1978, holding back the taxable value of property from going up higher than 2% per year, regardless of the increase in the overall average American market value; until, that is, property changes ownership.

Proposition 13 cut the statewide property tax rate to 1% of a home’s taxable value, down from a statewide average of 2.67% to 3%, give or take. Of course, what many Californians don’t realize is that this tax relief for homeowners also holds rental prices down, as apt. building owners, landlords, are spending less on property taxes themselves, therefore are less inclined to go up in rents.

As many of us know, property values were increasing in the early to mid 1970s in California, and business property owners as well as homeowners were suddenly victims of consistent property tax hikes, and artificially escalated property values, when until then you could buy a lovely middle class property at a very affordable rate – almost anywhere in the state, other than certain obvious high-end enclaves, such as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Sausalito,  Beverly Hills, Malibu, etc.

Public Push-Back Against Property Tax Hikes

Residents like retirees, middle class widows, veterans and elderly folks with fixed incomes, were basically living on government pensions or social security and perhaps a few stock dividends kicking in here and there. The problem was, from a Californian public relations point of view – folks living on these modest fixed incomes were all of a sudden losing their home to egregious property tax hikes… And public anger was rising to a fever pitch by 1976, 1977.

By 1978 this dissatisfaction among middle class and upper middle class families – against artificially escalated, unpredictable property tax hikes rose to such a fever pitch throughout California that property tax relief, in the form of Proposition 13, was an inevitable outcome.  Largely due to the efforts of wealthy apt. building landlord Howard Jarvis and his “Taxpayers’ Revolt” – and this put a stop to homeowners hemorrhaging cash every year on property taxes.

Prior to Proposition13 the state was growing in leaps and bounds, becoming more affluent by the decade; therefore large homes and business properties were being purchased by the middle and upper middle classes – and inherited from parents – which subsequently triggered a “change in ownership” and thus property reassessment.

Therefore the resulting property taxes were high enough to be called estate taxes, and often caused middle class families to sell their home, as they simply could not afford this type of property taxation any longer. Put quite simply – it was unsustainable. Which is precisely why Howard Jarvis and Proposition 13,  and later the ability to transfer CA property between siblings, came about in the first place.

Proposition 58 and the CA Parent-Child Exclusion are Born

By the 1890s property owners in the state were getting used to property tax relief, and wanted more. So in 1986 the California Legislature voted with a huge majority to place a measure on the ballot called Proposition 58, to exclude parent-child transfers of property from the legal definition of “change of ownership.”  And the right to transfer CA property between siblings, along with parent-to-child exclusion, was born… adding to the popular suite of tax relief benefits furnished by Prop13. 

This tax measure (which has completely morphed into Proposition 19, with additional tax breaks), used in conjunction with a loan to an irrevocable trust, made the right to transfer CA property between siblings, also called “a sibling-to-sibling property transfer”, possible – so beneficiaries looking to buyout inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries could easily do so, while establishing a low property tax base, when inheriting a home from parents… when inheriting property taxes. 

Heirs were now able to transfer parents property taxes, to transfer CA property between siblings (through a trust loan) and keep parents property taxes from a now standard property tax transfer – which attorneys call a Parent to Child Property Tax Transfer… plus for the first time the right to avoid property tax reassessment during an inheritance – and this was actually normalized.  Which was incredibly important to middle class homeowners all across the state of California, who were previously struggling to make it every year, with heightened property taxes always looming over their heads.  This was causing a growing state of anxiety, county by county. 

This also meant that when homes and small business properties were inherited the property tax bill would not be affected. Proposition 58 was approved by more than 75% of voters statewide. In fact voters soon thereafter passed Proposition 193 to extend the same rules to transfers between grandparents and grandchildren, as long as the children’s parents were deceased.

Of course, as with everything else, certain malcontents (the realtor community among them), simply couldn’t stand to see that many people benefiting from a good thing, and so decided to unravel it, get more property tax revenue into the state coffers, as well as increase real estate sales commissions!

California Realtors Finally Deal a Blow to Property Tax Relief

In 2020, backed largely by the powerful California realtor community, with the CA Legislature stepping in to provide political cover, “Proposition 19” was created to take a large slice of that tax relief back from homeowners – yet appealed strongly to homeowners over 55, the elderly, folks with infirmities, and victims of natural disasters, fires and earthquakes, all who benefited nicely from a host of attractive property tax relief benefits!

Although, many voters (now experiencing buyer’s remorse) did not fully realize that Proposition 19 took away some of the protections afforded by Propositions 58 and Prop 193, and replaced them with a more limited exclusion from property tax reassessment.  Many middle class and upper middle class Californians who have worked all their lives to own a home to pass down to their children are finding that their plans have been upended by Proposition 19.  Due to the increase in property values, reassessment of inherited properties to current market value will force some homeowners to sell because they can’t afford to pay the higher tax bill every year.

Which is exactly why the spirit of Howard Jarvis reared up its’ head again, in the form of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association organizing volunteers to collect signatures to try to repeal the “death tax” portion of Proposition 19, without changing the provisions that protect seniors and wildfire victims. To qualify the measure for the November 2022 ballot, nearly a million valid signatures of registered voters are needed. Deadline to submit signatures is 4/29/22.

Once again the middle and upper middle classes, along with the elderly, have powerful allies in California!

Taxpayer’s Association Summation of Efforts to Protect Tax Relief:

Early organizing will be essential if the effort to repeal the death tax is to succeed. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) is shifting into high gear, with all hands on deck, signing up volunteers and spreading the word at https://reinstate58.hjta.org/#volunteer The Taxpayers Association is sponsoring a Bill entitled “Senate Bill 668”, introduced by Sen. Patricia Bates (of Laguna Niguel) – which would, if passed, continue to protect your grown children, and theirs, against tax hikes should they inherit your home, which attorneys have a fancy name for – i.e., “intergenerational transfers of property” (up to Feb 16, 2023).

Proposition 19’s changes to the tax treatment of inherited property took effect in February, leaving Californians little time to consult with family members, attorneys or tax professionals to plan for these sudden, harsh changes to property tax liability for the next generation.

HJTA also supports a constitutional amendment to reinstate Proposition 58 (1986) and Proposition 193 (1996), two measures that were overwhelmingly approved by voters to protect family property from reassessment when passed from parents to children or grandparents to grandchildren. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (Granite Bay) is working with HJTA on final language for an Assembly Constitutional Amendment that would restore these protections.

California voters have strongly opposed state inheritance taxes, which were abolished by constitutional amendment in 1982. Proposition 19 has effectively resurrected the inheritance tax in California, with the added burden that families must pay it every year as a condition of keeping their property.

And once again the middle and the upper middle classes plus the elderly in California have powerful friends and allies stepping up into the spotlight to protect their homes, their  security and their well being!

Establishing a Low Property Tax Base in California

Property Taxes in California

Property Taxes in California

Establishing a Low Property Tax Base ~ Who to Turn to in 2022

It’s always interesting, with respect to estate funding and inheritance financing, how different schools of thought come up with different solutions for saving money on property taxes, for out-of-the-box funding solutions against inheritance assets, and for mortgage capitalization. 

Name brand name lenders, setting the tone  for most lenders in California, such as Quicken Loans, e-Loan,  Wells Fargo and Bank of America – are admittedly all high-end, reliable finance-information and lending sources.  Yet – when it comes to important income tax or property tax matters, or inheritance funding solutions – their editors and writers, talented as they may be, still only nibble around the edges on anything but the most conventional, largely ineffective solutions. 

For example, where tax relief is concerned these firms typically dance around the critical issues associated with property tax exemptions, establishing a low property tax base, or avoiding property tax reassessment – when inheriting a home in any of the  58 counties in California. So who do we turn to for help?

Many property owners embrace basics, and enlist assistance from established property tax experts such as Rachelle Lee-Warner, Esq. — well known Partner, Managing Attorney & Trust Administration / property tax relief expert at Cunningham Legal. Or trusted property tax consultant Michael Wyatt, President of Michael Wyatt Consulting in Corona. Or a reliable trust lender like Commercial Loan Corp, led by inspirational CEO, Kerry Smith in Newport Beach – specializing in irrevocable trust loans, avoiding property tax reassessment and establishing a low  property tax base – for middle class California families… guiding them through while showing them all the new advantages that Proposition 19 offers.  Perhaps not as generous as Proposition 58 might have offered… however, lowering property taxes to a greater degree than you might think.

Avoiding Poor Solutions and Time-Wasters 

With regards to lowering property taxes — these are typical solutions from “expert websites” that homeowners might not want to take very seriously, or avoid completely…

  • Limiting your “home improvement” projects;
  • Researching nearby neighborhoods for pricing and home values;
  • Asking uninformed young attorneys or relatives (to save money) if you qualify for tax exemptions;
  • Walking around your neighborhood with your Tax Assessor;
  • Checking your tax bill for inaccuracies;
  • Getting a second, third and fourth opinion from unproven  Assessors and property tax consultants;
  • Meeting with your local Tax Assessor to convince him/her to revise your tax bill;
  • Researching and filing a property tax appeal challenge with your County Tax Assessor without a professional property tax appeal firm – on your own, simply to save money.

Checking for inaccuracies, or getting a second opinion isn’t a bad suggestion.  But walking through your house with your local Tax Assessor?  Researching prices around your neighborhood? With all due respect to the financial websites that hand out this kind of advice, these suggestions would be laughable – if they weren’t so serious.  Limiting your home improvement projects – to lower your property taxes? 

Effective Solutions with a Tax Professional or a Trust Lender

We will never be free from property taxes while we own our own home, but one does need to be on the there are a few simple “tricks” you can use to lower your property tax bill, as certain websites claim. 

We can investigate comparable homes in our neighborhood for “discrepancies”. Never making any changes to our property exterior right before a tax assessment, as this can increase the value of our property; hence increase our property tax bill.

Or, we can stroll around our house and chat with our Tax Assessor during our yearly assessment. That makes a lot of sense. Lastly, we can look for local and state exemptions, and, “if all else fails, write up and file a tax appeal to lower our property tax bill”  so suggests a well known financial site.  Listen, if we’re going to file a property tax appeal with a County Tax Assessor, we’d be a lot better off doing it through a professional property tax appeal firm.

If we want to address this issue seriously, and not simple throw silly and unrealistic suggestions out there simply to see what sticks – we have to look at realistic opportunities to take advantage of. 

For example, if we’re an heir of an estate, or a trust beneficiary inheriting a house from our Mom or Dad – and the house is in an irrevocable trust – a loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust lender is likely required if the trust does not contain sufficient cash to make an equal distribution to all of the co- beneficiaries looking to sell off their inherited property shares. This is frequently taken advantage of by beneficiaries, perhaps like yourself, who intend to keep a home inherited from a parent at the original low property tax base.

A loan to an irrevocable trust makes it possible to buyout inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries and greatly speeds up the trust distribution process. A trust loan also saves a great deal of money when you compare selling the family home through a realtor or broker receiving a 6% commission, plus legal fees, and other closing costs.

Inheriting Parents’ Home While Keeping Their Low Property Tax Base

Bottom line, avoiding property tax reassessment  and establishing a low property tax base by transferring property taxes, are property tax relief benefits available to all property owners in California, protected by Proposition 19 & Proposition 13. This should always be taken full advantage of.  You can transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property and inheriting property taxes – and keep parents property taxes basically forever, establishing a low property tax base with Prop 19 benefits as well as taking advantage of a trust loan buyout of property inherited by siblings. Why not?  It’s your right.  Plus, there is no better time than the present to become better acquainted with the parent to child property tax transfer.

This type of property tax transfer is at the foundation of property tax relief for all Californians, generally through a parent to child property tax transfer on an inherited home – usually referred to as a Prop 19 parent-child transfer or parent-to-child exclusion… all the way to a transfer of property between siblings through a loan to an irrevocable trust, in conjunction with Proposition 19 – with an entire year to settle in to an inherited principle residence, or multiple residence (although only one heir is actually required to lock this tax relief benefit in). As long as the parent leaving that property to heirs resided there as a principle residence as well – which is usually the case anyway.      

Using a Trust Loan to Establish a Low Property Tax Base

Buying out sibling property shares while keeping your inherited home at a low Proposition 13 tax base is a popular avenue for many families.  Not only that, if your siblings are receiving funds from an irrevocable trust to sell their inherited property shares, they would receive far less money getting cash from an outside buyer, as opposed to funds from an irrevocable trust. The costs associated with preparing a home for sale, expensive realtor fees, and potential closing costs associated with selling an inherited home can be incredibly expensive.

When a trust loan is used to facilitate a trust distribution, each beneficiary receives an average of an additional $15,000.00 in distribution when compared to selling the home. The person keeping the family home also benefits – saving $6,200+ per year in property tax savings – simply by avoiding property tax reassessment on a nice old inherited home from Mom and/or Dad.

Voters passed CA Proposition 19, just squeaking by with a handful of votes from confused voters in Nov of 2020, and the tax measure became active on April 1, 2021. If you want to intake good advice and avoid mistakes, have property tax experts carefully walk you through Proposition 19, and Proposition 13.

Most middle class and upper middle class California homeowners probably have heard about Proposition 19, the new property tax law that allows seniors and disabled homeowners to keep their current property tax rate when they sell their home and buy a new one. But they may not know how to apply this new law when moving to a new home.

It’s the state’s largest expansion of property tax benefits in decades, basically allowing qualified homeowners to take their Proposition 13 tax base with them anywhere in the state, no matter the price of their new home.

Helping California Middle Class Homeowners Avoid Property Tax Reassessment

Under Prop. 13, tax hikes are capped at 2% a year, meaning the longer you own your home, the lower your property taxes relative to the market value of your home. But some homeowners lose their Proposition 13 tax break when they sell their old home and see their new tax jump to the full market value of their new one.

If you are 55 years or older, a person with a severe disability or a victim of wildfires or natural disasters, you can move to any home in the state, regardless of the home’s price. Your tax is unchanged up to the value of your old home. If your new home costs more than your old one, you pay an additional amount based on the market value over your old home’s price.

When you’re used to a low property tax bill, it can be a shock to your monthly expenses when buying a replacement home includes a huge property tax increase – especially if you have lived in your current home for many years.

Some older middle class homeowners feel trapped because they can’t leave their current home, even if it no longer fits their needs, because they are on a fixed income like Social Security, or a modest pension or military retirement, and can’t afford to move. Taking advantage of Proposition 19 may appear challenging.  But as time passes, more and more tax assessors are providing online links to forms and resources to help homeowners understand how to benefit from these new property tax rules and regulations.

 

Does a Change in Ownership Affect CA Property Taxes?

California Change in Property Ownership

California Change in Property Ownership

Californians who make it their business to know – now understand that triggering property tax reassessment to “a new Base Year Value” as a result of new construction to a home, or a complete change in ownership – which makes it virtually impossible to establish  a low property tax base; and results in a yearly tax rate that increases abruptly to  current or “fair market” rates.

Translation in everyday language – you pay much higher property taxes every year. For example, the different between $600 per year and $9,000 per year. Significantly higher property taxes.

Every County Tax Assessor in California, in all fifty-eight counties, records and reviews every single property deed in every county, to figure out which homes and various other real properties require reappraisal, and which do not. The Tax Assessors also determine ownership changes with other investigative tools such as such as kept records from homeowner self-reporting, or from records of building permits; from newspaper files; or field inspections.

When a County Tax Assessor has determined that a property has changed ownership, Proposition 13 stipulates that the County Tax Assessor must reassess that property to its current (i.e., fair market) tax rate, as per the date of change of ownership.

Because property taxes in California are based on a property’s assessed value – at the time of acquisition – the property taxes will be increased if the current market rate is higher than the original assessed Prop 13 base year value adjustment. Therefore – if the current market tax rate is lesser than the previous adjusted base year value assessment, then taxes on that property will go down. Which is what everyone wants.

It is important to note, however, that a portion of ownership of that property may be reappraised. Let’s say that 50% of a home is transferred under Proposition 13, and the changes that the Tax Assessor is going to reassess is 50% of the home at the current market rate, as per the transfer date, so 50% will be deducted from the base year value, under Proposition 13 property tax relief… 

Typically, when someone buys a home, the home goes through a “change in ownership” and 100% of the home is reassessed at full current market value.   Even if the outcome of transferring real estate is a change in ownership, there are a number of exclusions from paying current tax rates – and so certain homes or other real estate will often not be be reappraised under these sorts of home transfers.

If a property owner files the proper claim, an exclusion from paying updated current property taxes will kick in as long the owner’s property, or portions of this property, are correctly excluded from reassessment.

The best way to cover changes in ownership that are excluded from automatic reassessment, or reassessment by claim; is to enlist the help of a tax attorney, a property tax consultant, or a trust lender who specializes in establishing a low property tax base for heirs upon inheriting a home from a parent.

Frequently, this will assist beneficiaries in buying out inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries through a loan to an irrevocable trust, which realtors and property tax specialists call a transfer of property between siblings or a sibling-to-sibling property transfer – working in conjunction with a California Proposition 19  parent to child property tax transfer on an inherited home – a parent-to-child exclusion (from property tax reassessment at full, current market rates), to establish a low property tax base.  

Naturally, this line of property tax relief, based on a parent’s property  also includes the ability to transfer property taxes when inheriting property taxes from a parent. Under these tax breaks, a property tax transfer like this can help heirs keep parents’ property taxes basically forever, based on a parent-child transfer; or a parent to child exclusion from reassessment – to legally avoid property tax reassessment.

You can always consult your Tax Assessor, however it is generally in the Tax Assessor’s best interest to charge you the maximum amount possible. A property tax consultant or trust lender, on the other hand, is motivated to save you money on taxes, not see you spend more.

What Exactly is the Parent-Child Exclusion?

The Parent-to-Child Exclusion (from paying current property tax rates) applies to any real estate purchases or transfers between parents and children, which occurred on or after November 6, 1986…

CA Parent-to-Child Exclusion Benefits

This exclusion prevents an increase in property taxes when real property is transferred between parents and their children in California.  Formerly a crucial component of the wildly popular Proposition 58 parent to child property tax transfer,  or parent-to-child exclusion, is still a key tax break in the tax relief bundle under California  Proposition 19, as of Feb, 2021.

As we all know, this tax relief bundle works with property tax break components such as Proposition 13 transfer of property, the parent to child property tax transfer on an inherited home,  or a fast 5, 6 day loan to an irrevocable trust  under-pinning a transfer of property between siblings when buying out inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries. 

These tax benefits mainly revolve around property tax transfer – namely the inheritance based ability for heirs to transfer parents property taxes, to keep parents property taxes long-term after inheriting property taxes as long as it’s California real estate… Making good use of the Prop 19 parent-child transfer working in conjunction with Proposition 19 parent-to-child exclusion benefits and related tax breaks.

What is the definition of a “child” for the purpose of this CA exclusion?
Natural children, children adopted before the age of 18, step-children (as long as the parents are still married), foster children, and sons- and daughters-in-law are considered children under this exclusion program.

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment in California

In other words, property that will avoid a tax hike would be the transfer of property value from a “principal residence” to another primary residence – plus any other property valued up to $1,000,000 going to children. Properties will not be reappraised if the Claim for Exclusion from Reappraisal form is filled out properly, filed and approved by the Tax Assessor’s Office.

Grandparent-Grandchild Exclusion

Real estate can be excluded from excluded from reappraisal when transferred between grandparent and grandchild, as long as a Claim for Exclusion from Reappraisal form is filed and approved by the Tax Assessor’s Office. And only if both parents of the grandchildren are deceased prior to property transfer to grandchildren.

Proper Claim Filing

Residences do not receive this type of property tax exclusion automatically. A completed “Claim for Exclusion from Reappraisal” is required. This form has to be finalized and filed with the Tax Assessor’s Office for approval.

Conversely, if you don’t file this claim the outcome is likely to be reassessment of your property taxes at fair market (i.e., current) rates. To avoid a supplemental tax bill, this claim has to be filed within 3-years of property transfer or the date the decedent passed away, prior to sale or transfer to a third party. A claim can be filed within 6-months after the mailing date of the supplemental notice or “escape assessment”.

If this claim is filed late, the exclusion can still be granted but no refunds will be received for prior years. It will be granted for the year the claim is filed as long as the property has not been sold to a third party.

Filing a Claim if Property Inherited From Parents is Sold

Reappraisal will occur for the period between the date of the death and the sale to the third party. A supplemental bill will be issued unless the heirs or beneficiaries apply and qualify for this exclusion.

Filing a Parent-to-Child Exclusion & Reappraisal for Seniors

Reappraisal Exclusion for Seniors is a one-time only tax exemption for residents age 55 and older to sell their primary residence and transfer its’ low property tax base to a replacement home. Since the sold property has to be reassessed or reappraised, heirs would not get a tax break from the Prop 19 parent-child transfer benefit.