Proposition 13 Tax Transfer Initiative

The Proposition 13 Tax Transfer Initiative will be on the ballot in November.  If passed, it will give those 55 and older the ability to take their old property-tax basis with them, no matter (a) the new home’s market value; (b) the new home’s location in the state; or (c) the buyer’s number of moves.  But the tax basis will be subject to a re-calculation, depending if the new home is more or less expensive.

The California Association of Realtors is also pursuing a legislative alternative that will eliminate intergenerational transfers of primary residences and other inherited property being used for income-producing purposes without reassessment.

The kids and grandkids have enjoyed taking over their elders’ homes – and their typically ultra-low tax basis that transferred.  The state legislature could change that in August, which would bring in additional revenue to compensate for those seniors taking their old tax basis with them.

Click on Read More below for details:


Boomer Parents-to-Children Transfers

Daytrip sent in this article (link below) on baby boomer sales, and how the transfer of homes from parents to children are likely to dampen the supply of homes for sale – and somewhat limit the property-tax receipts:


But then I went to the actual report for more info and graphs:


They do expect more boomer sales – it looks like a growing trend as more boomers get into their mid-70s:

Home Sales Likely to Pick Up as Homeowners Get Older. Although the aging of California’s homeowners has depressed home sales in past years, this pattern is likely to reverse in the future.

As California’s homeowners continue to age—transitioning from the 55 to 75 age group to the over 75 age group—more and more will begin to downsize, move into assisted living or with family, or die. When this occurs, home sales are likely to rise.

Between 2003 and 2013, over two-thirds of homes in California with owners 75 or older were sold to a new owner, compared to less than one-third of homes with owners ages 55 to 75.

Different Rules Apply to Homes Passed From Parents to Children. In general, when a home is transferred to a new owner, its taxable value is reset to its purchase price.

California voters, however, passed Proposition 58 in 1986, which amended the California Constitution to exempt transfers between parents and children (and later grandparents and grandchildren under certain circumstances under Proposition 193 [1996]) from revaluation. This allows a child to inherit their parent’s lower taxable property value.

The report shows the parent-to-child transfers to be around 10% over the total homes sales over the last decade, but it should be going higher, especially in the higher-cost coastal counties!

Parent-to-Child Exclusions Have Had a Notable Impact on Revenues. Over the past decade, around 10 percent of property transfers have taken advantage of the parent-to-child exclusion to prevent an increase in property tax payments. Figure 6 shows how many of these exclusions have been used each year during the past decade.


San Diego County is the second most populated county in the state, so no surprise we’re #2 on list at $133,000,000 in estimated reduced taxes.  Those are a substantial number of homes being transferred within the family!

If the average tax savings was $10,000 per house sold, it would mean 13,300 homes transferred from parent to child – and this is from 2014-2015.  We had 35,382 homes sold on the MLS in the same period.  Add the FSBOs and new-home sales and we might have had 40,000 to 45,000 total homes transferred in fiscal 2014-2015.

The parent-to-child transfers could be as many as 25% of the homes moved! (40,000+13,300 = 53,300.  13,300/53,300 = 25%)

Their $133,000,000 estimate could be a tad off, but we probably have 10% to 20% of the potential supply of homes for sale being transferred within the family.  No wonder the public supply is so limited.

It is a trend that probably started to increase in 2013 as prices took off.  Parents realized that with the low tax basis, a child would be better off moving into the family homestead, rather than buying a resale home and paying full boat on the property taxes!


Policy on Raising Property Taxes

Once home values started declining, the San Diego County tax assessor started revising downward the assessed values of properties bought during the peak era.

Many were a results of requests made by homeowners, but the assessor’s staff also revised some voluntarily.  Now that it appears that the market has bottomed, are the tax-assessed values being raised?

A generous reader offered the following:

The properties that were not re-assessed downward under (the other) Prop 8 continue to creep up every year by either 2% or California CPI, whichever is lower. That’s basically every home bought prior to the bubble, and they only got a break when CCPI was negative for the first time since Prop 13 and every property got a shave.

Those that were adjusted downward under Prop 8 are re-evaluated every year and can jump up to whatever the tax assessor says they are worth until they get restored to their original assessed value plus annual increase (which they also track). When those properties get back to where they would have otherwise been but for the recession, then they increase annually like all other properties.

The Assessor says they are cautiously restoring AV on those that his office reset because they don’t want to fight appeals and in many areas they just don’t have sufficient volume of comps to justify higher AV yet.

Glad to hear that the tax assessor is ‘cautiously restoring’.

Property-Tax Reassessment

From the City News Service – seen at Encinitas Patch:

The deadline to ask for a property value reassessment is April 30th, San Diego County Assessor Ernie Dronenberg noted Monday.

Property owners who believe the value of their holdings has dropped below the current assessment can have the county conduct a review by applying online:


Those without online access can call (858) 505-6262 and have a form mailed, but they need to act quickly, Dronenberg said.

He said the form is self-explanatory and does not require legal knowledge.

More than 200,000 taxpayers were granted a reduction in assessed value last year, he said. They do not need to re-apply because their property value will be reviewed automatically.  Property owners who disagree with their reassessment are allowed to file an appeal.

The deadline gives county staff time to conduct the review before the 2012-13 property tax bills are mailed out.

(You are required to include recent comparable sales – I’m happy to help!)

Mello-Roos Not Tax-Deductible

Hat tip to ProfHoff for sending in this update from sfgate.com:

Many California homeowners may be surprised to learn that some charges on their property tax bills are not deductible on their income tax return.

The Franchise Tax Board is on a mission to get California homeowners to follow the law and stop deducting the entire amount of their property tax payment. Increasing compliance would raise money for the state and federal government.

(Reminder: California homeowners must pay the first half of their 2011-12 property tax payment by Dec. 10 to avoid penalties.)

Tax pros say the vast majority of homeowners deduct their entire property tax payment as an itemized deduction on their federal tax return, even though federal law prohibits deducting certain taxes and fees. Taking the full deduction reduces state as well as federal taxes.

To be deductible, a property tax must be a percentage of the home’s assessed value (known as an ad valorem tax). It also must be imposed uniformly throughout the community and benefit the general community or government.

Any tax that is a flat fee per household or an itemized charge for services assessed against specific property or certain people is not deductible. Nondeductible charges might be identified as Mello-Roos or Community Facilities Districts, 1915 assessment district bonds, lighting and landscape, parcel taxes, school or college measures and bonds, water, sewer, flood, police, fire and libraries, the tax board says on its website.

Property tax bills do not break out which charges are and are not deductible. In many cases, it’s hard to even decipher what the charges are.

Nevertheless, the tax board told tax preparers in September that it was going to add three lines to 2011 California income tax returns asking homeowners for their parcel number, the amount of property taxes paid and the nondeductible amount.

After getting many complaints from the tax community, the board decided in mid-November to postpone these changes until 2012 tax returns and in the meantime try to educate homeowners about the issue.


Commercial Prop 13

From the U-T:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Democratic lawmakers are determined to close tax loopholes they say cost state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars each year, as they search for ways to trim California’s enormous deficit.

A report by the union-funded California Tax Reform Association found that the share of property tax paid on residential property has increased since two-thirds of voters approved California’s landmark Proposition 13 tax law in 1978, while the share paid on commercial property has decreased.

In Contra Costa County, for example, taxes on residential properties now make up 73 percent of property taxes collected, up from 48 percent in 1978.

Democrats and unions say many corporations are using loopholes when they buy and sell properties to avoid having them reassessed and their property taxes go up.

“The system is an incredible mess,” said the association’s executive director, Lenny Goldberg. “People are constantly changing their share of ownerships, figuring out ways to avoid reassessment.”

Republicans strongly oppose efforts to tinker with the system. They see such moves as an effort to undermine Proposition 13, the initiative that capped property tax increases and remains popular with voters.


Property Tax Re-Assessment

From the SD County Assessor – I am happy to provide comps:

The County Assessor’s Office wishes to notify property owners that tax relief is available if their property’s market value has fallen below its assessed value. Your property’s assessed value is shown in the upper right hand corner of your current tax bill. For all practical purposes, this only affects those property owners who purchased their property at the height of the current real estate market.

Under State law, a temporary reduction in assessed value can be made when the market value, as of January 1, 2010, falls below the assessed value.  

Once reduced, the Assessor’s Office must then annually review the value of the property until the Proposition 13 value is fully restored (adjusted with the annual CPI, not to exceed 2%). Consequently, a new request for review is not required if your property currently has a temporary reduction under this provision.

Property owners who believe their property’s market value has fallen below its assessed value should file an Application for Review of Assessment with the Assessor’s Office as soon as possible but no later than May 14, 2010.  They should provide their opinion of value and supporting documentation, such as comparable sales, current listings, or a recent appraisal indicating the value as of January 1, 2010.  Ideally, comparable sales should have occured between 10/1/09 and 3/31/10.


Proposition 60

 from the U-T:

prop 60Greg and Sandra Seyler thought they were doing everything right when they bought a home for retirement in Alpine last year and then sold their Santee home earlier this year.

Greg, 54, who earns a living washing windows, and Sandra, 56, a dog trainer, wanted to take advantage of Proposition 60, a 1986 state law that permits seniors, and later the disabled, to keep their low tax bills if they sell one property and buy another for a lower amount.

But the county assessor’s office denied their request because its appraisers believe the Seylers sold their house for more than it was really worth. The county believes the couple owe more than $5,500 in property taxes rather than the $2,000 they had planned on.

If the county prevails, Seyler predicts, all seniors with the idea of taking advantage of Proposition 60 should think three times before doing so.

“I’d never recommend this to anybody,” he said.


Prop Tax Revenues

del mar

from sddt.com

There are five cities in San Diego County that experienced an increase in property tax revenues in the fiscal year ending in June 2009 despite the county’s assessed value being down 2.3 percent overall.

Del Mar, Coronado, Solana Beach, Poway and Encinitas are the only five cities in the county that have experienced growth, according to County Assessor David Butler.  “They’re the ones you’d expect — coastal cities and other well-off areas,” he said.

Del Mar and Coronado had the most growth at 5.75 percent and 5.11 percent, respectively.  Solana Beach, Poway and Encinitas all grew by less than 2 percent each.

Unlike much of the county, the five cities have had relatively stable home values and few foreclosures.

Additionally, their city governments have not had the same sort of financial issues seen in other cities within the county.

As the city of San Diego faces a deficit of $179 million, some of these cities have been able to produce a surplus, even if it is small.

In Poway, the 2008-09 budget ended with a $320,000 surplus, which Poway City Manager Rod Gould said was due to making cuts with “a scalpel rather than a meat cleaver.”

He said citizens would not likely notice most of the cost-saving strategies the city employed, though they may see slightly lower park maintenance or have to wait a little longer at the permit counter.

“The reason we’re doing a little better than most (other cities in the county) is because we saw this coming three years ago,” he said.


Our friend Kingside contributes this data received while attending a recent Butler speech:

# of NODs/# of NOTSs/Prop Tax Reviews/Total County Assessed Values/% chg/Total Supplemental Taxes

Year NODs TDeeds Tax Reviews Asd Value* Inc/Dcr Sppl Tax
1992 12,059 3,827 unk 140 B 4.3%
41.9 M
1993 12,521 5,110 unk 142.7 1.9%
25.8 M
1994 10,754 5,338 40,300 144.1 1.0%
18.4 M
1995 11,251 5,267 95,900 145.3 0.8%
15.3 M
1996 12,037 5,994 148,800 146.1 0.6%
22.0 M
1997 10,085 5,136 195,300 150.3 2.9%
28.8 M
**** **** **** **** **** **** ****
2005 5,080 559 <100 319.4 13.3%
298.8 M
2006 10,294 2,065 <100 319.4 13.3%
307.1 M
2007 22,194 8,417 11,500 391.4 9.36%
243.6 M
2008 34,069 19,577 88,000 409.4 4.59%
191.1 M
1-8/09 28,149 10,294 216,000 399.9 -2.3%
62.8 M

* in billions

The changes in assessed values (shown in supplemental taxes) must be particularly volatile these days. Properties sold at peak are having their assessed values reduced 20% to 50%, while at the same time the sales of long-time-owned properties are causing increases in similar amounts.

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