Backers of a statewide initiative aimed at expanding Prop. 13 for senior homeowners have submitted almost a million signatures to election officials, more than enough to qualify the measure for next November’s ballot, the California Association of Realtors, the initiative’s principal backer, has announced.
Now election officials must verify the petitions to make sure they contain the required 585,000 voter signatures needed to place the measure on the November 2018 ballot.
If approved, the Prop. 13 “portability” measure would allow homeowners who are 55 or older to take their low property tax base with them after selling their home and buying a new home anywhere in the state. There would be no limit on how many times they can use the provision and no limit on home prices (although buying a more expensive home would result in a slightly higher “blended” tax assessment).
Under current law, senior homeowners can take their low Prop. 13 tax base with them only once, only to one of 11 California counties and only if the new home costs the same or less than the one sold.
Under Prop. 13, the landmark constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1978, property tax hikes are capped at 2 percent per year so long as a resident owns the home. But there’s a one-time reassessment for the new owner to market values after the home is sold. The measure has kept homeowners’ property taxes artificially low over the years, even as their home values have doubled or even quadrupled
Supporters say the initiative will ease the state’s housing crisis by freeing up more properties for sale. Many older homeowners who want to move have been staying put to avoid paying higher property taxes.
Although the initiative wouldn’t address capital gains taxes, another deterrent to home sales, it still will help the housing crisis “in a small way,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Prop. 13’s original backer.
“That will have an effect of opening up larger homes to younger families so older empty nesters aren’t trapped in bigger houses,” Coupal said.
The initiative’s expanded “portability” provisions also would apply to severely disabled homeowners and disaster victims.
“Voters believe that homeowners who are seniors, disabled or victims of disasters deserve the opportunity to move to safer, more practical homes without being penalized,” said state Realtor association President Steve White. “We are excited to have reached this milestone. … We have the resources and grassroots strength to eliminate the property tax moving penalty.”