Article 13-A of the California Constitution

Protecting Californians From Arbitrary Tax Hikes

Proposition 13 once protected all taxpayers, homeowners and non-homeowners — by maintaining a 2/3 vote requirement in order to pass most tax increases, including state sales and income tax. Intentionally making it more difficult to raise taxes on residents. Particularly critical with respect to property taxes.

Unfortunately for middle class tax payers, a tax measure entitled “Proposition 39” was approved in 2000 by a thin razor edged margin after a massively budgeted PR & marketing campaign was launched by a few Silicon Valley billionaires who thought it would be advantageous to make middle class homeowners pay for their Silicon Valley corporate tax breaks. Similar to our recent tax breaks for mega-wealthy Americans and high-end corporations. Again, mainly pulled from the pockets of middle class homeowners and working families. A sad testament to tax inequality.

So-called “Proposition 39” revised the 2/3 vote requirement for certain bonds to 55% — making it way too easy to pass those bonds, since they are paid back only through increased property taxes. Again, wealthy hands in the pockets of middle class families.

Property Tax Postponement Instead of Property Tax Relief

The State Controller’s Property Tax Postponement Program allows senior or elderly homeowners, blind homeowners,  and severely disabled property owners, to take advantage of a marginally helpful “tax deferment” affecting this year’s property tax bill. When the more equitable solution would obviously be total or partial exclusion from these property taxes; especially in the midst of a severe Pandemic — with subsequent economic failings and short-comings, with no real end in sight.

Over the past 44 years, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has battled and confronted California based special interest organizations, such as the CA Association of Realtors, groups, bureaucrats, and public-employee unions, among others, who benefit from government spending.

Beginning in 1978, Proposition 13 was determined to protect home ownership from overly greedy, destructive taxation. Therefore California property owners strive to continue enjoying the $528 billion that the Proposition 13 and Proposition 58 (now Proposition 19) Howard Jarvis Tax Revolt has saved homeowners by helping them, overall, to avoid property tax reassessment; allowing families to transfer  property between siblings without a crippling property tax reassessment, avoiding a sibling to sibling buyout.  Enabling beneficiaries to transfer parents property taxes to themselves through property tax transfer relief, when inheriting property, and subsequently inheriting property taxes from a parent — thereby inheriting property while keeping a low property tax base.

Hence, allowing inheritors to keep parents property taxes basically forever… generally with property tax transfer relief from a parent-child transfer — ultimately, through an established parent-to-child exclusion.  Something no California homeowner or beneficiary wants to lose.

CA Property Tax Relief Under Attack

Is CA Proposition 13 Property Tax Relief Under Attack?  

California taxpayers are in particular danger due to the fact that the CA State Legislature and real estate plus other special interests are looking to continue efforts to unravel property tax relief in California simply to accelerate real estate sales and commissions, plus increase overall property tax revenue to state coffers.  Just for the record, Proposition 13 has saved California taxpayers $528 billion.

If critics of property tax breaks unravel Proposition 13 any more than they already have, real-estate-business owned politicians can accelerate property taxes on homeowners by 400%, or north of that figure, by destroying Proposition 13 protections that keep restraints on increases of sales tax with new property tax relief law in California that could add hundreds of billions of dollars, going forward, of new tax revenue from new rules for property tax transfers in California — costing every middle class and working CA family a small fortune in increased property taxes!

The Proposition 13 bullet-proof “2/3 vote requirement” to protect  Californians from greedy, careless or arbitrary property tax hikes has been watered down and severely weakened by those who oppose property tax relief in California, and can easily be further unraveled during this upcoming year. 

Could California See the End of Crucial Property Tax Breaks?

Lifting the 1% or 2% cap on the maximum property tax rate is their next objective. After that, Proposition 13 and $528 billion could be stolen from California taxpayers forever.  Needless to say, this would not be healthy for the state. We could possible see the end of CA Proposition 13 property tax relief — possibly the demise of the parent-to-child exclusion… most damaging of all.  How these politicos and certain members of the real estate community  could support such irresponsible tax hikes on the backs of middle class Californians, is almost impossible to ascertain or understand.  

Yet it’s entirely possible that in the state of California we could actually begin to see the unraveling  of third-rail protections supporting low tax rates from parent-child transfers — the end of laws allowing homeowners to avoid steep property tax reassessment  when inheriting property taxes… for so many decades protected so well by Prop 13 and  Proposition 19 (formerly Proposition 58).

These were once unchangeable built-in property tax breaks protecting parents and their children when they be easily able to transfer parents’ property taxes and keep parents property taxes basically forever, in perpetuity. when inheriting a home from Mom or Dad.

Proposition 13 has forced local governments to manage their finances better — one reason the initiative had such overwhelming popular support.  Most cities and counties have been very successful under Proposition 13. If some have failed, the problem was not Proposition 13. It was mismanagement, lack of sensible  planning… and reckless spending.

A Second California Tax Revolt

A Second Tax Revolt will take time, energy, resources. Funding. Organizations such as the Commercial Loan Corporation; the Michael Wyatt Consulting group; the Cunningham Legal law firm; Kevin Kiley’s ACA-9 initiative; and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association are all providing planning and backing for the support and rescue of Property Tax Relief in California… Proposition 13; and the possible return to Proposition 58 with unlimited parent–Child Exclusion rights for homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property from parents.

Simply some of the reasons the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc. is launching their “Second California Tax Revolt”, to build and protect property tax relief measures for all Californians, regardless of age, station, or net worth.

It took four million Californians to pass Proposition 13. HJTA hopes to mobilize as many to defend Proposition 13, because that’s what may be needed to keep $528 billion in our pockets — our honest,  hard working California property owning pockets.  And not flowing into mercenary state and county tax collectors’ pockets.  

How Secure is Property Tax Relief for Californians?

Property Taxes in California

Property Taxes in California

Despite Critics, CA Property Tax Relief Is As Popular As Ever  

What all homeowners, property owners and working families inheriting property in California want to know – is whether or not property tax breaks from Proposition 13 and Proposition 19 are guaranteed, during our lifetime, to all California homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property.

Naturally, this encompasses the ability to transfer parents property taxes, with a protected property tax transfer; the right to keep parents property taxes when inheriting property  property taxes, most frequently through a parent-child transfer, otherwise known as a parent-to-child exclusion.  Always to avoid property tax reassessment, even when it involves a loan to an irrevocable trust, in conjunction with Prop 19 for the transfer of property between siblings, commonly called an “inherited property buyout”, which is often implemented in concert with the right to keep parents property taxes.

So after 44 years of capping property tax increases at 2%, Prop 13 continues to be wildly popular with Californians. And due to the fact that Proposition 13 is a CA Constitutional Amendment, it can only be revised by voter approval.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc president Jon Coupal tell us:

Without the two-thirds vote requirement, one of these second-mortgage bonds can now be passed by people who won’t pay the tax and in fact are getting more from the government than they pay in taxes.

After Proposition 39 took away the two-thirds vote protection for these bonds, localities quickly passed almost $30 billion in such bonds — debt that homeowners will be burdened with long after they’ve paid off their homes.  Since then, the two-thirds vote has been repeatedly attacked by a pro-tax coalition that wants to eliminate this protection for more and more kinds of bonds and taxes.

Currently, several proposals are active in the State Legislature to change the state constitution to eliminate the two-thirds vote requirement for other kinds of bonds, and for certain sales and property taxes. If enacted, it will become far too easy to pass all kinds of tax hikes, so the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is actively fighting this legislation.

Special Interest Groups Intent On Unraveling Tax Relief

Wealthy special interest organizations are out there scheming and planning, especially like-minded people in the realtor community that are secretly, and not so secretly, aiming to unravel California property tax breaks – such as the CA Associations of Realtors, who bankrolled Proposition 19,  replacing Proposition 58 in 2021. 

The CA Associations of Realtors donated $40.4 million to their crusade; and $47.57 million total bankrolled this effort to convince Californians with deceptive yet clever public relations and marketing.  Naturally, there were other organizations that chipped in, that do well with state government cash and don’t want homeowners to save big on property taxes, as property tax revenue feeds those organizations and their financial interests.

Proposition 15, the property tax measure, also promoted by the realtor community, was designed to overturn Proposition 13’s commercial property tax protections, and was defeated by a hair. Had it passed, most residential rentals and business rentals, thanks to inflated commercial property taxes from an unraveled Proposition 13, would have gone sky high – taking prices of all goods and services in California with it…and would have carried the future of California with it…. downhill!

Special interest groups such as the Realtor organizations pushing these anti property tax relief efforts, have got to learn that you can’t weaken and in many cases destroy the lives of millions of the  39,538,223 citizens residing in California – simply to benefit 131,551 real estate brokers. Weakening the financial life of millions just to make some realtors and real estate brokers a little wealthier just doesn’t even out.

CA Property Tax Relief Heroes ~ Fighting the Good Fight

This is precisely why folks such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association; Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and his ACA-9 Bill to repeal Proposition 19;  Michael Wyatt Consulting; Devin Lucas Real Estate Law Firm; Commercial Loan Corp led by president Kerry Smith; and others – maintaining an especially courageous effort to control property tax hikes; and keep crippling property taxes capped and equitable for California working families, for both middle class and high net worth homeowners – to keep the California American Dream of home ownership alive, fair, and affordable.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Transferring a Property Tax Base

Transferring Property Taxes in California

Transferring Property Taxes in California

The Right Advice & Tax Plan from a Trust Lender 

Much to the relief of Californians who own property and/or are in the process of inheriting a home from a parent, for example, in any of the 58 county across the state, the parent-to-child exclusion from property tax reassessment is still alive and well in all 58 counties, in 2022.

However, quite often, new homeowners and beneficiaries trigger a property tax hike strictly by accident, and end up facing thousands upon thousands of dollars in property taxes from property tax reassessment – that could and should have been avoided, had the right advice and tax plan been in focus.

High property values in California highlight the need for careful property tax planning. If you have owned your property for many years Generally, in terms of property taxes, homeowners who have owned their home for a long time typically have a lower assessed value than current or “fair market” property value tends to be.

Parent-to-Child Exclusion

As far as parent to child transfers are concerned, when one beneficiary who is inheriting a home decides to buyout property shares inherited by co-beneficiaries (siblings) – to have complete ownership of said property – it’s easy to misstep and mistakenly trigger property tax reassessment.

A parent to child property tax transfer in is line with the effort to  avoid property tax reassessment under Proposition 19’s parent-child exclusion, retaining a parent’s Proposition 13 low property tax base. Therefore a loan to an irrevocable trust working in conjunction with Proposition 19 allows us to transfer property between siblings – buying out property from siblings.

Likewise, beneficiaries, upon inheriting property from parents, still have a property tax transfer at their disposal to transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes when inheriting a parental home, and thus inheriting property taxes, but at a low  base rate.  Hence, the use of a parent-child transfer… enabling the use of the invaluable parent-to-child exclusion – bottom line, helping us avoid any possibility of triggering property tax reassessment! 

Choosing the Right  Trust Lender, to Keep a Low Property Tax  Base While Buying Out Inherited Property From Siblings

We prefer a trust lender who can formulate and deliver the more reliable, simple Proposition 19 rules & regs, in conjunction with an irrevocable trust loan to equalize beneficiary buyouts of inherited property shares.

We have found that any type of unconventional property financing other than irrevocable trust loan funding may run into unpleasant surprises such as property tax reassessment – due to an abrupt change in control, or revised ownership!

LLCs, Corporations, or various Partnership entities owning real estate are subject to a myriad of property tax rules & regs that can change on a dime, often disqualifying beneficiaries from taking full advantage of the parent-to-child exclusion, to maintain a low property tax base, and perhaps buying out inherited property shares from co-beneficiaries – avoiding property tax reassessment and running headlong into pricey financial surprises.

Transferring Your Base Year Value Under Proposition 19

Given new changes to Proposition 19, if you happen to be over age 55, or are severely disabled, you may be able to transfer your home’s current base year value to the purchase of a different home, thereby keeping your property tax payments low. To qualify, you must acquire your new home through a sale transaction. If you acquire any portion of the new property by gift or inheritance, you will not be able to transfer your base year value.

Property Tax Relief for All Californians

Proposition 13 – 34% Against Versus 62.6% For

On June 6, 1978 Proposition 13 passed as a property tax relief measure with 4,280,689 votes for – versus 2,326,167 votes against. In the final analysis, it came down to finally taking a great deal of power away from the County Tax Collectors; and giving it back to taxpayers!

Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, were the best known Proposition 13 advocates. Officially known as the “People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation”,  also referred to as the Jarvis-Gann Amendment,  Proposition 13 was listed for voters through the so-called “California ballot initiative process” – which allows a constitutional amendment to be offered to voters when political advocates assemble a certain number of signatures on  a petition.     

For Once, Tax Relief for the Middle Class in California – Not Special Interests

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that Mr. Jarvis was a hugely successful residential apt. building owner, and Mr. Gann, a political activist who passed away from HIV due to infected blood from a unfortunate transfusion, who ironically devoted the last several years of his life to AIDS treatment advocacy – in direct opposition to his fellow conservatives. California’s “Paul Gann Blood Safety Act” was passed into law in 1990, mandating that doctors discuss the risks of blood transfusion with their patients.

Two non-politicians named Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann courageously soldiered on – without precedence – until they won the day. This rarely occurs in political circles, as we all know.  But for once, some non-politicians actually changed things for the better in California. And virtually overnight, once Howard Jarvis and his so-called “Tax Revolt” passed Proposition 13, property tax rates in California finally became predictable and equitable – from San Jose to San Francisco and beyond, in all 58 counties.

Under this new property tax relief measure, the property tax rate is now set at a uniform 1% throughout the state, and property tax increases are limited to no more than 2% a year as long as the property is not sold.

Previously, the tax rate in California averaged almost 3% of market value, and there were no limits on increases either for the tax rate or property value assessments. Some properties were reassessed 50% to 100% higher in just one year, so property owners’ tax bills skyrocketed, often  way beyond homeowners’ ability to pay their property taxes.

Now, once sold, property is reassessed at 1% of the new market value (usually the sales price) with a 2% cap on annual tax increases. As a result, new buyers are always aware of what their taxes will be and know the maximum amount property taxes can increase each year for as long as they own the property. 

Then, in 1986, Amendment Proposition 58 was passed; and  homeowners as well as beneficiaries inheriting property from parents could happily take advantage of a transfer of property between siblings or sibling-to-sibling property transfer in conjunction with an irrevocable trust loan, typically for buying out inherited property shares from siblings, while keeping a low property tax base (now used with California Proposition 19 which has replaced Proposition 58). 

Overnight, beneficiaries  could transfer parents property taxes when inheriting property taxes; and could keep parents property taxes after a property tax transfer made possible by a parent-child transfer, officially a parent-to-child exclusion which, exactly like buying out inherited property shares, is also now governed by Proposition 19.  

Benefits for Non Property Owners

While Proposition 13 is mainly famous for capping property taxes in California, it also stops arbitrary tax hikes at the state and local level. It makes sure that any state tax increase had to be approved by a 2/3 majority in the Legislature, and any new or increased local taxation must be approved by voters, not just a collection of special interest politicians.

Supplemented by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – a co-sponsored tax measure entitled Proposition 218 (the Right to Vote on Taxes Act) makes sure that voter approval of all new local taxes is required, no matter what. So not just property owners, but also renters, benefit – as Proposition 13 stabilizes property taxes, making them predictable and reasonably controlled; reducing any uncontrolled or unexpected rent increases throughout the state of California.

What Has Made Proposition 13 So Popular, from 1978 to Now?

Proposition 13 Saves Californian Property Owners Thousands

Proposition 13 Saves Californian Property Owners Thousands when compared to property tax systems in other states.

CA Proposition 13: Consistency and Necessity

In the 1970s property tax hikes were completely out of control. Especially for working families and middle class folks who were dependent on a fixed income… retired veterans and other government and municipal workers like retired postal workers; homeowners receiving Social Security, and retirees living on a modest pension; etc.

During the past twelve months the average home price in California accelerated by over 19%, the California Association of Realtors reports – seemingly unaware that this very statistic belies what they believe is a good thing (the unraveling of Proposition 13 and property tax relief generally in California), in actual fact it’s a good thing for realtors… not the middle class and working families across the state! In fact it shows that Proposition 13 is as necessary as ever.

Stabilizing CA Property Taxes Throughout All 58 Counties  

Kris Vosburgh, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association exec director tells us: “It [Prop 13] resulted in the stabilization of neighborhoods and allows people to stay in the neighborhood where they bought homes and not be forced out by increasing tax. The basic benefit to both new and old home buyers is that you know what your taxes are going to be from year to year.  One doesn’t have to shudder in fear.”

And shuddering in fear was exactly what middle class families did when tax time tolled around every year.  You never knew what your tax hike was going to look like. There was no stability in property taxation… No consistency you could rely on.

Before Prop 13: An Epidemic of Elderly & Retiree Foreclosure

In Los Angeles County in 1975 and 1976, over 400,000 senior  homeowners, many who were elderly, in their 80s or 90s, could not pay off their property taxes, simply because they couldn’t afford the accelerated tax rates and were either at risk of being forced onto the street – or literally were put out onto the street with clothes, furniture and all! Many who were elderly folks and nowhere else to go. Not a pretty picture.

Elderly couples and other older individual homeowners living on a modest fixed income were impacted most of all by these arbitrary property tax hikes. Many were living free and clear but were in grave danger of losing their home, despite the lack of debt, mainly because they simply could not afford excessive property taxes.

And as millions of older middle class Californians were being pushed out of their homes, onto the street, the heroic Howard Jarvis assembled over 1,500,000 signatures to qualify a statewide tax measure that would finally end excessive property taxes – and protect home ownership for working families and middle class homeowners – namely, Proposition 13.

California Property Tax Relief: Facts and Case Studies

One story tells the tale aptly, with respect to the urgent, pressing  need California had for fair and equitable property tax relief… It  concerned a 56 year old criminal defense attorney by the name of Cameron Quinn, a Lido Isle resident, who lives there with his wife and 18-year-old daughter.

Beneficiaries of Proposition 13, Cameron’s parents bought his house in 1966 for $45,000. After they died, the house passed to Cameron and the benefits of Proposition 13 were his to take advantage of.  Last year their property taxes were $966 for a home assessed at $95,403. “Where else could we go where it would be less?” Mr. Quinn tells us, “The fact that the taxes are low is a salvation!” 

And of course this eventually included a property tax amendment called Proposition 58.  So with robust property tax transfers in California intact, and both official property tax relief measures working – to avoid property tax reassessment – beneficiaries and homeowners could take full advantage of parent to child property tax transfer opportunities to keep parents property taxes with unfettered ability to transfer parents property taxes; officially known as a basic parent-to-child exclusion from reassessment – all to avoid property tax reassessment on one’s primary residence.

Mr. Quinn calls Proposition 13 “a financial security blanket and a far cry from the Costa Mesa condominium where we first lived, with not much more than a television, a bed and an old piano.”

This home is more than just a product of property tax relief for Me. And Mrs. Quinn. This is where they went after their first date, where his mom, a piano-teacher, and friends serenaded the couple. And just as it passed from Mom to them, this home will be passed again from Dad to daughter. “We wouldn’t move,” said Mr. Quinn’s 57 year old wife Neeta Quinn, “This is where we’re going to live forever.”

CA Parent to Child Property Transfer & Buying Out an Inherited Home From Siblings

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment on an Inherited Home

Avoiding Property Tax Reassessment on an Inherited Home for Californians

Most beneficiaries in California favor a parent to child transfer to avoid property tax reassessment.

As long as a transferred home is, initially, a primary family residence and the offspring receiving gifted or inherited property is moving in as a primary residence,  plus an  exclusion is claimed inside 12 months from change in ownership… remaining aware of the fact that the first $1,000,000 is not reassessed.

At any rate, despite certain limitations, the financial savings from this process  are genuine savings for beneficiaries inheriting property – avoiding property tax reassessment – and for many children of parents leaving a beloved family home to them.  This often makes the difference between being able to keep that family home, or losing it – frequently at a financial loss.

Plus, besides trust distribution to co-beneficiaries to keep an inherited home – also being able to take advantage of property tax breaks such as the right to transfer parents property taxes during a property tax transfer, with the legal right to keep parents property taxes basically forever… after inheriting property taxes through a standard parent-child transfer, and parent-to-child exclusion!

We also have to remember that, in 2022 California, a loan to an irrevocable trust, working in conjunction with Proposition 19, allows a beneficiary to buyout inherited property shares from siblings looking to sell their inherited property… thereby speeding up the trust distribution process. 

Moreover, an irrevocable trust loan also generates a much higher profit margin for beneficiaries selling their inherited property shares, by avoiding expensive home prepping for a sale, as well as avoiding a costly 6% realtor commission, expensive legal fees, and other pricey closing costs.  All in all, avoiding property reassessment, property tax hikes, and higher expenses  in general for all concerned.

When a trust loan is used to process trust distribution to co-beneficiaries, on average each beneficiary or sibling gets an additional $15,000 in distribution as opposed to selling the home to a conventional buyer. The family member keeping a family home also saves money – generally $6,500 or more per year in property tax savings by avoiding property tax reassessment on an inherited property.

That’s why many families inheriting a home from parents go to a reliable trust lender to be able to take full advantage of Proposition 19 tax benefits. Beneficiaries and homeowners continue to take advantage of Proposition 19 and Proposition 13 and basic property tax transfers in California and related tax breaks… keeping a low property tax base when inheriting a home – inheriting property taxes at a low rate from parents.

Saving beneficiaries many thousands of dollars, this is often a life-saver – and could, in many ways, be considered a final act of parental affection, from parent to child.

What to Look For in an Estate & Trust Lender

Trust Loans in California

How to get a trust loan in California

Retaining a Low Property Tax Base in California

Establishing and locking in a low property tax base helps you as a new homeowner, or beneficiary inheriting parental property, to minimize your property tax burden over the long-term. As most Californians know, to save on taxes it’s essential to utilize existing property tax relief tools to reduce taxes on inherited real estate… Tools that support property tax transfer and property tax breaks;, the ability to  transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes as long as an inherited home remains a primary residence; inheriting property taxes.

Most residents believe expert help is essential, from a property tax consultant, a tax attorney, or a trust lender; and feel it would make very little sense to ignore this.  

What we should find in an experienced California trust lender, along with providing a loan to an irrevocable trust, is expertise guiding new homeowners, or beneficiaries inheriting a home, through the inheritance process – able to establish the low property tax base still possible under Proposition 13 – in conjunction with Proposition 19…

Proposition 19 is still clinging to the frayed edges of Proposition 58, as homeowners and renters alike show signs of buyers remorse, all across California, having voted for Proposition 19, thinking that their ability to avoid a property tax reassessment was the key ingredient… amidst confusion over the fine print concerning property tax transfers – hidden behind sentimental window dressing claiming to be tax revenue going mainly to firefighters, the elderly, and folks hindered by wildfires or other natural disasters and disabilities.

Californians are sentimental Westerners by nature, and what Westerners could possibly vote against the elderly and homeowners with severe disabilities!

At any rate, a loan to an irrevocable trust from a trust lender, working in concert with Proposition 19, in conjunction with a parent to child property tax transfer — better known as a parent-child transfer and parent-to-child exclusion, allows heirs and  beneficiaries to avoid a property tax reassessment – while also being able to buyout inherited property shares from siblings, for more cash than an outside buyer would offer.

Essential Trust Lender Tasks

Meanwhile, California real estate taxes are maintained at a reasonable level by Proposition 13, which limits real estate tax increases to 2% maximum per year. Proposition 58, Proposition 193, and Proposition 19 allow for this low tax basis to continue if real property is transferred to heirs from a parent or grandparent.

At any rate, a good trust lender should be able to complete the following tasks flawlessly and without issue:

1. Deciding which beneficiary will own the inherited property in question.

2. Determining how much money is needed for an irrevocable trust loan.

3. Funding a high six-figure or low seven-figure trust loan.

4. Distribution of an irrevocable trust loan, equalizing the amount of cash going to each beneficiary that is looking to sell off their inherited property shares.

5. Filing change-of-ownership, while keeping a legacy tax basis.

6. Mapping out how beneficiaries will repay a trust loan. 

Finally, a relationship with a trust lender is based on belief, and good faith, as all relationships are.  Plus results, which surface soon enough.

Qualifying for CA Property Tax Measure Proposition 19

California Prop 19 Rules for Transferring Property Taxes

California Prop 19 Rules for Transferring Property Taxes

Background and Updated Details on Proposition 19

Proposition 58 – a wildly popular, successful property tax relief measure since 1986, was a life-saver for middle class homeowners and beneficiaries inheriting property taxes from Mom & Dad; from San Jose all the way to San Francisco and beyond – and was abruptly replaced after a rushed, slightly confusing  PR campaign; with a tax measure called “Proposition 19” – revising Prop 58’s flagship tax break, the “parent-child exclusion”.

Yet Prop 19, true to it’s advertising, added invaluable property tax exemptions for homeowners age 55 and over, for folks with severe disabilities, and victims of natural disasters and forest fires. Giving qualified homeowners the ability to transfer the assessed value of their primary home to a newly purchased or newly constructed replacement “primary residence” up to three times in a lifetime.

For heirs inheriting a home from parents, the bottom line objective for families is property tax transfer – a low property tax base of course; avoiding property tax reassessment; and naturally  the right to transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes, when inheriting a home and inheriting property taxes from Mom & Dad… Having access to a comfortable stress-free parent-child transfer, and a parent-to-child exclusion from having to pay extremely high current property tax rates.  Although nothing is perfect,  California’s property tax relief, as it is now,  gives a foothold to consumer and homeowner  advocates who firmly believe the folks in power should go all the way, to pause CA property taxes to combat Pandemic impact  on the local economy.

Promotion of Proposition 19, albeit slightly misleading, said it all in the title – the “Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act” – more or less replacing the constitutional amendment Proposition 58… However – still maintaining the right to take advantage of a parent-child transfer, inheriting property taxes from Mom & Dad to keep a low property tax base with a parent-to-child exclusion – homeowners are still able to use Proposition 19 in conjunction with a loan to an irrevocable trust, to buyout inherited property shares from beneficiaries, giving inheritors plenty of time, up to 12-months, to move into an inherited primary residence.

Changes to Property Tax Relief Effective 2/16/2021 and 4/1/2021 

  Replacing Proposition 58 (est. 1986) and Proposition 193 (est. 1996) – limiting parent-to-child transfers and grandparent-to-grandchild transfer exemptions (Proposition 193).

  Replacing Proposition 60 (est. 1986) and Proposition 90 (est. 1988) that allowed home transfer exemptions for seniors; and Proposition 110 (est. 1990) allowing exemptions for disabled homeowners.

To qualify for property tax relief, residents have to file a claim with their County Tax Assessor by the time stated in the local county ordinance, or inside 12-months from the date of property damage caused by a natural disaster, a flood, earthquake, whatever – whichever is later. The loss estimate has to be at least $10,000 of current or “fair market” value to qualify for this type of property tax relief. Property taxes are reassessed and adjusted according to the level of damage.

Requirements to Qualify for Proposition 19 Approval

1. Proposition 19 permits property tax decreases by allowing families inheriting real estate to avoid property tax reassessment on a family home used as a principle or primary residence.

2. Only one child (heir) after property is transferred, and both parents before property is transferred over, have to be primary residents of inherited property, with plenty of time (12-months) to move in after the transfer.

3. Proposition 19 allows the transfer of a family home or farm between parents and their offspring, or grandparents and grandkids (as long as both parents are deceased) without triggering “change in ownership” based property reassessment – which is a property tax increase everyone wants to avoid.

At least one beneficiary has to reside in a primary residence, upon the purchase or transfer of a family home between parents and their children, in order to qualify for a property tax exclusion.

It’s worth reiterating that in order to qualify, a beneficiary inheriting real estate must be eligible for the “homeowners’ exemption” or “disabled veterans’ exemption“, applied within 12-months of the transfer or purchase. A parent also has to be eligible for homeowners’ exemption or disabled veterans’ exemption within 12-months of transfer or purchase. Using a home as a primary residence. And can still apply even without one of these exemptions by simply proving the home is a primary residence.  It is important to point out that there is no requirement for a family farm to contain a home that a beneficiary has to reside in.

The Tax Assessor’s Office has a calculator to help homeowners estimate their potential property tax savings from a tax exclusion.  

To Qualify for an Exclusion the sccassessor.org Website States:

The value limit is equal to the home’s taxable value at time of transfer plus $1 million. Any amount of market value exceeding the limit is added to the taxable value for the transferee. Partial relief is granted under the parent child exclusion up to the value limit; with the remainder assessed at market value.

A $1 million allowance will be adjusted annually beginning in 2023.The principal claimant or the claimant’s spouse who resides with the claimant must be at least 55 years of age at the time the original residence is sold. The claimant must be an owner on record of both the original and replacement residences.

Claims must be filed within three years from the date the replacement residence is purchased or newly constructed to receive full relief. Claims filed after the three-year time period will receive Prospective Relief only. Heirs must complete the claim form and meet the exemptions requirement within the first year following the date of transfer.

The exclusion for transfers between grandparents and grandchildren are the same rules as described above except in order to qualify the parents of the grandchild must be deceased. Special rules apply to multi-unit dwellings and mobile homes.

It’s well worth noting that all 58 California counties now have adopted, in accordance with Proposition 19 stipulations, an ordinance for disaster relief, available to owners of real property, business equipment and fixtures, orchards or other agricultural groves, and to owners of aircraft, boats, and certain manufactured homes.  It is not available to property that is not assessable, such as state licensed manufactured homes or household furnishings.

2020-21 Dramatic Changes to California Property Tax Relief

Looking back at surprising 2020—2021 efforts in California to unravel existing middle class utilized Proposition 13 – commercial and residential property tax relief measures. Propaganda from various critics of property tax relief, and sectors of the realtor community, promoted unrealistic property tax measure Proposition 15 – and the attempted removal of tax breaks allowing exclusion from current tax rates for commercial property and business property owners; including middle as well as upper middle class apt building landlords throughout California. They, and Proposition 15, failed by a surprisingly small margin. 

Had Proposition 15 not failed, a property tax hike like Prop 15 would have created a massive statewide increase in prices for all goods and services, all across California, for working families and middle class consumers.  In other words, a tidal wave of statewide inflation. 

Opponents of property tax relief still refuse to admit that higher taxes on commercial property owners and landlords would have forced all business property owners to raise rents on most merchant store tenants – companies leasing malls… on businesses renting gas stations, super markets, drug stores, liquor stores – a tax hike that  would essentially impact all merchants renting space or storefronts,  as well as umpteenth landlords with countless residential tenants and office building owners with countless business tenants.

Quite frankly, voters that bothered to read the fine print under this tax measure found the potential affects of Prop 15 to be unimaginable, hence it did not pass.  It’s unlikely that Prop 19 would have passed had voters not been confused by the heavy promotion focused on “helping elderly homeowners” and “victims of wildfires” etc… or  had voters simply not been lazy, avoiding the complicated fine print concerning inherited homes… it’s quite likely that Proposition 19 may not have been voted into law. 

That, in fact, is what Proposition 15 or any commercial property tax hike would accomplish. So critics of property tax relief should take heed! Massive statewide inflation would occur… causing businesses and merchants to struggle with flagging sales, in response to higher prices, and related issues. Business bankruptcies would increase. And layoffs would most likely rise to excessive numbers.

When so much of your profit margin is going up in smoke, in property taxes, you’re not likely to start hiring more workers. In fact, sadly, you’re more likely to lay some people off. Not to mention the companies that would begin leaving the state altogether, moving to nearby states that offer lower property taxes, are more business friendly in terms of taxation overall, certain property taxes, hence you lose workers and in fact increase unemployment and lose tax revenue from all those folks that are not working.

On the other hand, another property tax measure, Proposition 19, was voted into law in California. Looking beyond the obvious fact that this tax measure somewhat limited the former Prop 58 parent-to-child exclusion (from paying current market rates)…  the property tax transfer process, in other words the ability to transfer parents property taxes and keep parents property taxes without limitations, when inheriting property taxes, a parent to child property tax transfer… all became more limited in terms of what heirs of parents are actually  able to exclude from current tax rates. 

Basically, people now more or less have to work a little harder to be able to avoid property tax reassessment; and it unraveled a loophole which made it easy for the next generation to avoid being reassessed at current market value. Not only that, it’s no longer possible to use Proposition 13’s 2% tax cap when purchasing investment properties, often used as vacation rentals to generate some extra cash from tourists.

However, Prop 19 does make it possible for folks that are over age 55, that are residents with homes damaged or destroyed by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes or wildfires, as well as homeowners that are disabled, to receive excellent property tax breaks. Those Californians can keep their residential property basis when shifting to a new primary residence.

A lot of homeowners are encouraged by these changes to property taxation to downsize. However, many residents are looking to do this anyway, especially older middle class residents who tend to have a  fixed, modest income from Social Security and/or lower income pensions.  And there is always an exclusion from current tax rates to look to, the ever popular parent-to-child exclusion, with a full year to move in, as a primary residence, to inherited property.