Proposition 19- CA Ballot Measures Series

*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.

We are in another election year and it is (nearly past) time to start considering not only who you want to vote for as president and to represent you regionally, but also to start doing your research on the measures on the California State Ballot this year. Or alternatively, you can follow this series of blog posts to get a summary of what's at stake with each measure, who is in support of and opposed to it, and a progressive's guide on checking No or Yes.

Proposition 19 is the next up on the ballot! Proposition 19 is a measure to allow homeowners that are over the age of 55, a victim or natural disaster (such as a wildfire) or disabled to transfer the tax base of their primary residence to a replacement residence and changes the tax code for family-property transfers. It would also establish a fund for fire protection services. The fiscal impact of this measure would be that local governments could gain tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue from property taxes annually. This amount is projected to grow to a few hundred million dollars per year. Schools would similarly benefit from these gains in tax revenue.

A vote for YES on this measure would mean that anyone resident of California over the age of 55 or who is otherwise qualified, would be eligible for property tax savings when they move. Only inherited properties, used for primary homes or farms, would be eligible for these tax savings. This proposition asks voters to amend sections of the Proposition 13 from 1978, to increase the number of times a property tax base can be transferred up to three times for long term property owners. It would narrow an existing inheritance property tax break, and promises to divert the revenue generated toward schools and fire protection agencies. Though this may sound appealing in theory, many progressive groups have said that passing this proposition would actually increase housing inequity.

This proposition would exacerbate the generational wealth gap because it would allow homeowners over the age of 55 to keep the tax breaks they received from buying their homes decades ago, if they move anywhere in the state, up to three times. This means that they could move to a vastly more expensive property, yet maintain those same tax breaks. Yet these people who bought homes decades ago already pay a significantly lower property tax than newer homeowners. Essentially, it would increase the wealth of longtime homeowners while denying opportunities to build wealth to people who do not own property or who are struggling to buy a home already. Though the proposition does have a positive in the elimination of a $1 million property tax exemption, and could generate money for schools and fire protection that need it, the consequences of widening the generational wealth gap are negative overall.

A vote for NO on this measure would mean you are not contributing more to the wealth gap and housing inequality. Many homeowners over the age of 55 would still be eligible for property tax savings when they move (as they have already been), as long as it is not their third time doing so. All inherited properties would continue to be eligible for property tax savings; i.e. not much is lost not passing it, and a lot is gained. So this guide would advise you to vote NO on Proposition 19.

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