Initiative Filed:
Realtors Begin Gathering Signatures to Expand Base-Year Value Transers

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) announced that it has begun collecting signatures for an initiative that would expand opportunities for homeowners age 55 years and older to keep their Proposition 13 property tax base-year value when moving to a new residence.

Under the Realtors’ analysis, about 70 percent of homeowners age 55 years and older have not moved in the past 17 years, and many are reluctant to move because they would be forced to forfeit their base-year value, prompting a significant increase in their annual property tax burden.

CAR President Steve White said the initiative would “make it easier for senior homeowners who want to move but don’t want to see a big tax bill.”

“Many homeowners who have seen their homes appreciate over the years are discouraged from moving because they face a big property tax increase,” Mr. White said. “This will allow senior homeowners to sell their existing home and blend their current tax rate with their new home. And it will free up their homes for other buyers who haven’t been able … to get into the housing market.”

Under current law, homeowners age 55 years and older are allowed to transfer their base-year value to a replacement property, used as a principle residence, if it is in the same county and is of equal or lesser value. Intercounty transfers are also possible in some areas, but counties can choose not to accept out-of-county transfers.

The initiative would require all counties to allow homeowners age 55 years and older to transfer their base-year value when purchasing a replacement property of equal, greater, or lesser value in the same county. When a homeowner purchases a replacement property of greater value, the existing base-year value would be applied to a portion of the new property’s value, so there would be a property tax increase, but not as large as under current law.

Local governments and the legislative analyst have estimated that the initiative would result in billions of dollars in lost property tax revenue for local governments, but CAR disagrees, and notes that properties sold by the homeowners would be reassessed after the change in ownership, generating greater property tax revenue from most of those homes.

In other initiative news:

Proponent of Gas Tax Repeal Appeals to California Supreme Court Over Ballot Language. Assemblyman Travis Allen, proponent of an initiative to repeal the gas tax increase approved by the governor and Legislature this year, is asking the California Supreme Court to review a Court of Appeal decision that upheld a controversial ballot description written by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The attorney general’s ballot title does not use the words “tax” or “fee,” and instead describes the tax and fee increases as “revenue.” A trial court judge found the title to be misleading, but was overruled by the Court of Appeal.

“The Appellate court’s decision to uphold Becerra’s ballot manipulation is disturbing and wrong,” Mr. Allen said in statement. “The Attorney General is constitutionally obligated to provide voters truthful and objective ballot initiative titles and summaries. The Appellate court’s decision is a direct attack on the integrity of direct democracy in California.”

Neighborhood Legislature Initiative on Track to Qualify. Initiative 17-0002, which would increase the size of the California Legislature so every member represents approximately 5,000 constituents, is on pace to qualify for the November 2018 ballot following a random sample count by the secretary of state.

According to the sample count, the signatures submitted by proponents have a 74.11 percent validity rate. If that rate holds following a complete verification, it will have enough signatures to make the ballot.

The proponent of the initiative is John Cox, a Republican candidate for governor. He argues that his initiative would make the Legislature more responsive to constituents, and would allow candidates to campaign in their communities without having to raise funds for television, radio or mail advertisements.

 

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