That 660 Marin homeowners rushed to file documents to transfer their property to their children in order to exceed the Proposition 19 deadline is no great surprise.
If the state and county had done more to alert local property owners to the February deadline, there likely would have been a lot more.
When it comes to sentence 19, the devil is in the details.
The bill was narrowly passed by California voters in November and is designed to help seniors and forest fire victims carry their lower Proposition 13 protected property tax rate with them when moving within the state.
It lifted a border imposed by several counties, including Marin.
The proposal also promised that the tax revenue it brought in would go towards fire safety.
But largely unpublished in the proposal driven by the California real estate industry, Proposition 19 also ended the long-standing cross-generational benefit of keeping property tax limited to Proposition 13 on the property as long as the property’s descendants inherit the home.
For families in Marin, this could mean a hefty hike in their property tax.
For the real estate industry, this means that more families would sell these homes, essentially adding to their tax burdens and forcing them to bring more homes to market.
After Prop. 19 was passed, 660 local homeowners acted quickly and met a deadline to transfer ownership to their children so that the higher taxes would not come into effect.
For those unaware of the February 16 deadline, their children or grandchildren who inherit the house will have to pay higher taxes unless they move into the property and make it their permanent residence within a year.
Given these consequences, you’d think county officials or lawmakers – who focus on helping taxpayers – would have done more to alert local property owners to this quick deadline. They could have saved their voters a lot of money.
Kentfield’s Mimi Willard, founder and president of the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers, argues that if they had been given more time – longer than the three months of Proposition 19 – more people would have filed remittances – to figure out the change in the law.
Many failed to protect their homes from the higher taxes and lost “the only hope of the next generation of people who grew up in Marin to be able to afford to live here,” Willard said.
State Senator Patricia Bates has passed laws extending the deadline to February 16, 2023.
She says that the expansion is not only fairer for property owners, but will also give the state time to clear up “ambiguities” in Prop. 19.
Marin’s elected county assessor, Shelley Scott, supports Bates’ SB 668 bill. She says when voters were voting on Prop. 19, some of its implications are unknown. There are still some unresolved questions, she says.
We’d love to hear our lawmakers, Senator Mike McGuire and Rep. Marc Levine, partake in the bill awaiting its first hearing.
One of these is the ongoing debate about how Prop. 19 applies to ranch and farmland.
The California Assessors Association has requested the state to clarify the issues raised by the proposal.
On its first iteration, SB 668 appears to be a fair and prudent measure, aimed at giving families more time to make important decisions and giving time for state and local authorities to clarify questions and issues that affect their implementation .