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Property tax changes on the November ballot

Of the 12 propositions that will be on the California ballot in November, two of them would make big changes to long-standing property tax laws.

Split-roll measure

The passage of Proposition 15, also called the “split-roll measure,” would repeal Proposition 13 protections for nonresidential commercial and industrial properties. These property owners would be required to pay property tax based on market value, instead of on the original purchase price indexed by no more than 2% per year. Residential properties, agricultural land, small businesses, and commercial and industrial properties with combined fair market values of $3 million or less would be exempt.

Reassessment of nonresidential commercial and industrial properties would be required every three years. The requirement would be phased in beginning in fiscal year 2022–2023, but some properties such as retail centers, whose occupants are 50% or more small businesses, would not be taxed based on market value until fiscal year 2025–2026 (or possibly later).

Just like past attempts to upend Proposition 13, this proposition has been highly controversial. Opponents say Proposition 15 would mean higher consumer costs, lost jobs, and business closures and that it would disproportionately impact small businesses that usually rent their properties from larger commercial real estate owners. Proponents originally claimed that these increased revenues are essential to maintain our K-12 public schools, colleges, and local governments and are needed now more than ever to help communities that are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lost sales tax revenue.

However, even county assessors are saying that they may not have enough resources and trained personnel to handle the cost of the appraisals and expensive, lengthy appeals processes.

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