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In Chicago last December, a caravan of cars headed downtown to the Cook County Building. They circled the block, honking horns, to protest massive property tax increases that were threatening the heritage of generations of Hispanic immigrants who had put down roots in neighborhoods that now were gentrifying. One longtime store owner said his property taxes had more than tripled, from $26,000 to $85,000, jeopardizing the future of his business.

In Lunenburg, Massachusetts, hundreds of homeowners packed a hearing room to protest property tax increases of 135% after the local tax assessor determined that home values had increased.

In Atlanta, filmmaker and philanthropist Tyler Perry donated $750,000 to help low-income senior homeowners pay their skyrocketing property tax bills so they would not lose their homes. “Thanks to his generosity,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in praise of Perry’s donation, “more Atlantans will be able to remain in the communities they built.”

Well, that’s one way to do it.

Californians, fortunately, don’t have to rely on anyone’s generosity to remain in their homes. Because of Proposition 13, homeowners’ property tax bills do not rise in tandem with home values. Prop. 13 caps the annual increase in assessed value at 2% for as long as the property is under the same ownership, regardless of how much a city’s growth or development, or inflation, causes home values to rise.

Proposition 13 also capped the property tax rate at 1%, down from the previous statewide average of 2.67%.

If not for Proposition 13, California homeowners would have to pay annual property tax bills averaging 2.67% of the current market value of their property, every year, as a condition of keeping it.

New homeowners may not recognize the benefits of Proposition 13, because they’re not aware of how high their property tax bill would be without it.

Here’s where you can help.

Show your friends and neighbors the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s “Guessing
Game,” which calculates what the tax bill would be for any property in California if Prop. 13 had never passed. Go to GuessingGame.org, or on our website here. Simply type in the approximate current market value of the property, and click the button to find out.

Then it will be a perfect time to tell your friends and neighbors that they can be Members of HJTA and help to protect Proposition 13. They can join online here or go to www.hjta.org and click, “Join Us!”

Thank you for helping us spread the word about the importance of Proposition 13, the 1978 state constitutional amendment that protects all California homeowners, year after year.