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The History of HJTA

Our Mission

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights, including the right to limited taxation, the right to vote on tax increases and the right of economical, equitable and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Our beginnings

After years of work by tax revolt leaders Howard and Estelle Jarvis, Proposition 13 was overwhelmingly approved by voters on June 6, 1978. But Howard and Estelle knew that taxpayers’ gains would be temporary without a permanent citizens organization to protect Proposition 13 and to continue the movement against higher taxes. To meet this need, they founded the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (originally called the California Tax Reduction Movement).

Although Howard Jarvis passed away in 1986 and his wife Estelle in 2006, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association continues their important work.

And with the constant pressure from government for higher taxes, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s role as the legal and political watchdog of Proposition 13 is more important than ever.

Our accomplishments

Working through the Legislature, courts and ballot initiatives, the tax-fighting work of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has saved Californians billions of dollars. Estimates are that Proposition 13 has saved California taxpayers over $528 billion. And when you add in all the other HJTA victories, the average California family of four has saved more than $60,000 as a direct result of the activities of Howard Jarvis and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association!

Estimated tax savings for California
From Proposition 13 alone:$528 billion for California taxpayers
From Proposition 13 and other HJTA victories:Over $60,000 for the California family of four

Here are just a few examples of the many legal victories and successful tax-reduction campaigns led by Howard Jarvis and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association:

1978Howard Jarvis helped lead the campaign to pass Proposition 13, which has saved Californians an estimated $528 billion and allowed millions of Californians to keep their homes.
1981Through our national arm, the American Tax Reduction Movement, we delivered more than one million petitions to Washington supporting President Reagan’s 25% cut in federal income taxes.
1982We passed Proposition 7, income tax indexing, which prevents state income taxes from being raised by inflation. Estimated tax savings: $82 billion.
1986We passed Proposition 62, which strengthened the taxpayers’ right to vote on local tax increases.
1986We supported Proposition 60, which saves senior citizens thousands of dollars when they retire and move.
1990-92We led the successful legal defense of Proposition 13 against three major court challenges, including the case of Nordlinger v. Hahn, which was heard by the United States Supreme Court.
1993We waged the campaign against Proposition 170, a ballot measure sponsored by the Legislature that would have reduced the vote to pass local bonds and raise property taxes from two-thirds to a simple majority. Proposition 170 was voted down with 69% of the vote.
1994We successfully campaigned against Proposition 180, which would have cost taxpayers $3.5 billion to purchase land for special interests.
1996We sponsored and passed Proposition 218 — the Right to Vote on Taxes Act — to restore and expand taxpayer protections provided by Proposition 13.
2003We went to court and successfully blocked an illegal $1.9 billion bond that the state was attempting to issue to cover its expenses. The taxpayers would have been obligated to repay principal and interest.
2004We led the fight that defeated the powerful public-employee-union campaign behind Prop. 56 — a direct attack on Proposition 13 that would have made it way too easy to increase taxes.
2006We led the successful campaign that defeated Prop. 88, which would have imposed a new state tax on all California property owners.
2008After the Legislature wrote its own ballot label, title and summary, which read like campaign advocacy for the $9 billion bond to provide seed money for high-speed rail, we sued on the grounds that voters have a right to elections free of governmental manipulation. The Court of Appeal, in a precedent-setting decision, ruled that the Legislature may not write its own ballot materials.
2009By defeating Proposition 1A, we stopped the largest tax increase ever proposed by any state in the history of America.
2009-12We successfully defended Proposition 13 in the Superior Court, the Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court against a suit that was filed by former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young to have the landmark tax-limiting measure declared unconstitutional.
2010We helped lead the effort to pass Proposition 26, a measure that stops the state and local governments from disguising taxes as “fees” as a way to avoid voter approval. We also defeated California Proposition 21, an increase in the Vehicle License Fee.
2011

On the final night of the legislative session, we stopped Jerry Brown’s last-minute plan to jam a billion-dollar tax increase through the Legislature. Governor Brown was so angry that he directly blamed your HJTA as the reason his plan failed. (We’re happy to take credit for stopping it!)

At a time when skyrocketing pension costs were bankrupting municipalities amid rumors that many public employees were retiring at relatively young ages with lifetime six-figure pensions, we joined forces with California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility in asking for public disclosure

2012

In the courts, in addition to beating back a major challenge to Proposition 13’s constitutionality, we commenced a legal challenge to the massive bond sale for California’s High-Speed Rail project (this boondoggle no longer looks anything like what the voters originally approved in 2008).

HJTA sued CSU Monterey and Monterey Peninsula College for using public funds and students’ school e-mail addresses to campaign for passage of the governor’s sales and income tax measure, Prop. 30, the largest state tax hike in American history. Both schools quickly settled, agreeing to repay the misspent funds and to refrain from such advocacy in the future.

2012-2017We filed a class action lawsuit against the state on behalf of more than 850,000 homeowners over an illegal “fire tax” passed without Proposition 13’s requirement of a two-thirds vote. Despite the state’s delaying tactics, the suit is moving slowly forward.
2013-14We blocked five bills in the State Senate and another two in the Assembly — each of which was designed to undermine Proposition 13. Passage of these bills could have cost every California homeowner thousands of dollars.
2015HJTA sponsored legislation to require officials to provide more information to voters on local tax measures, which was signed into law.
2016HJTA’s lobbying efforts fought off Senate Bill 8 (Hertzberg), a multi-billion-dollar tax on services.

Additionally:

  • Recent lawsuits by HJTA have saved taxpayers nearly $4 billion.
  • HJTA maintains a full-time presence in Sacramento to lobby against bills that are bad for taxpayers and to promote those that improve taxpayer protections.
  • Our Political Action Committee has played an important role in the successful campaigns of those who have pledged to support Proposition 13 and hold the line on taxes.
  • The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation has sponsored presidential debates, conferences on tax policy issues and numerous studies on such subjects as the impact of Proposition 13 on local government, and the benefits to state and local governments from contracting out to the private sector for certain services.

Today, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has grown with the support of more than a quarter-million taxpayers!