There is an effort this election cycle to amend Proposition 13, formally known as the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation. Led by Assessor Recorder Phil Ting, this amendment would basically lop the provisions of this 30-year-old fiscal boondoggle in half.
Passed in 1978, this piece of legislation has imposed upon California State a 1% fixed property tax rate that acts on an amount determined by an appraisal made at the moment the house, store, farm, factory, or commercial high rise is fully built, changing only later when the property is then sold to someone else. When sold to someone else, the amount of that sale becomes the new amount targeted by the 1% tax rate that they are required to pay the state. When forces such as inflation are considered, this basically means that new property owners are taxed more than older property owners for possessing the exact same thing. Unless, of course, the new property owners purchased their land for less than what the old owners paid for it. In a phone interview with the Assessor Recorder himself, I asked why he thought his amendment would pass. “Well, a fixed tax rate for residential properties only already exists in twenty states, while the rest don’t have any fixed property tax,” said Mr. Ting. He went on, “We are also seeing a lot of politically active people between the ages of eighteen to thirty get behind this.” These are people who are too young to care about why the Proposition was passed in the first place, but have had to deal with its consequences their entire lives, Mr. Ting agreed. When asked about critics who claim this amendment would hurt small business owners he stated, “Well, California is a beautiful state, and taxes or no, they’re going to want to do business here. Besides, as long as we’re responsible about taxation, the threat of businesses leaving really isn’t real.”
With California in a budget crisis and thousands of Californians finding themselves without jobs or other means to support themselves in the short-term without state or federal services and educational grants, Phil Ting and thousands of online supporters are seeking to trim a bit from the problem. His proposed amendment to Prop 13 would eliminate the fixed tax protection afforded corporate properties. He estimates that this change would add approximately seven billion dollars in tax revenue to the state, which would be primarily allocated under existing California law to provide educational services to elementary, high school, and community colleges across the state.
This wouldn’t solve California’s current fiscal nightmare, but it would be a tremendous help to students both existing and prospective to get new skills or supplement the ones they already have to find a job.
For more information about Phil Ting’s push to amend Prop 13, visit: www.ClosetheLoophole.com