Sacramento Bee | Editorial Board, October 30, 2020
Proposition 19 would be good for seniors who want to downsize, for local government coffers ravaged by COVID-19 and for anyone worried about wildfires. That’s plenty of reasons to vote yes.
The property tax reform measure would allow seniors looking to move closer to children and grandchildren to keep tax breaks after relocating, perhaps to smaller and more manageable quarters. The same common-sense incentive would extend to disabled people who might benefit from living closer to family, and to wildfire survivors forced to relocate.
But government agencies can’t afford to lose millions of dollars extending such compassion. Prop. 19 would make up for the revenue loss, and then some, by closing a loophole exploited by relatively few landowners.
Provisions of Proposition 13, the landmark tax initiative embraced by California voters in 1978, keep property tax rates reasonable as long as the property doesn’t change hands. When it does, taxes are adjusted to the current, higher rate — as they should be.
The loophole allows people who inherit property — often, vacation or second homes — to continue paying taxes at the lower rate enjoyed by the previous owner. That’s unfair to the rest of us.