The arguments for and against California’s Proposition 19

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Proposition 19 on the California general election ballot would let homeowners ages 55 or older, the disabled, and disaster and wildfire victims claim part of their property taxes as savings upon selling their home and purchasing a new residence. The measure would also limit tax benefits for some transfers of residential property between family members, such as parents and children, which many critics oppose.

In addition, Prop. 19 would reassess second homes and rentals owned but not used as principal residences at market value upon transfer to a family rather than the original purchase price. That would generally increase the amount of property taxes these homeowners pay, with the additional money going to public education.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which opposes Prop. 19, said the measure “would require property transferred within families to be reassessed to market value as of the date of transfer, resulting in a huge property tax increase for long-held family homes. The only exception is if the children move into the home within a year and make it their principal residence. This is a billion-dollar tax increase on California families.”

Further, Prop. 19 would remove protections for California taxpayers in the state constitution since 1986, according to the HJTA.

Jarvis, along with Paul Gann, authored California’s Prop. 13, the so-called taxpayer revolt measure that passed in 1978 and capped property taxes (one percent sales and two percent annual taxation).

The California Association of Realtors backs Prop. 19. There would likely be a growth in residential home sales if state voters approve the measure, the association contends. Along with the real estate industry, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, California State Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, California Nurses Association and California Faculty Association also support Prop. 19.

Sara Kimberlin and Kayla Kitson of the California Budget & Policy Center find flaws in Prop. 19. According to them, Prop. 19 would complicate the Golden State’s property tax structure and increase racial inequities, while doing little to improve the current housing affordability crunch.

“Housing policy and tax policy have historically benefited white households most,” according to Kimberlin and Kitson, “including through policies with explicitly racist design and implementation that have blocked Black and brown Californians from homeownership opportunities. By directing additional tax benefits largely to white homeowners, Prop. 19 reinforces racial inequity within California’s tax system.”

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