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HJTA’s effort to fix Prop. 19 and “Repeal the Death Tax” is ongoing and making progress.

As you know, in 2022, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association worked with more than 15,000 volunteers to collect signatures for an initiative that would repeal the portion of Proposition 19, passed narrowly in 2020, that removed a constitutional right Californians had for decades. Because of Prop. 19, Californians lost the ability to transfer property between parents and children, and sometimes grandparents and grandchildren, without any change to the property tax bill. Now, with only limited exceptions, property transferred between the generations is reassessed to current market value. In many cases, this is an enormous, unaffordable property tax increase, which forces families to sell long-held properties that have been painstakingly acquired through years of hard work and mortgage payments. It is robbing Californians in every community of the ability to build generational wealth.

Although we did not collect enough signatures in time to get this important initiative on the November 2022 ballot, we have not given up.

Fixing Prop. 19 and repealing the “death tax” on property will require a state constitutional amendment. There are two ways to amend the state constitution, and both require the approval of a majority of voters.

The first method is a constitutional amendment proposed by the State Legislature. With a two-thirds vote of the Senate and the Assembly, the measure would be placed on the ballot in the next election.

The second method is a constitutional amendment proposed by a citizens’ initiative. This requires a number of valid signatures of registered voters equal to 8 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the last election. For 2023 through 2026, this number is 874,641. To be certain that enough valid signatures are collected, it’s wise for proponents of an initiative to collect and submit at least 1.3 million raw signatures.
We’re looking at both methods, and one is already underway.

Working closely with HJTA, Sen. Kelly Seyarto and Assembly Member Phillip Chen have now introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment 4, which would repeal the portion of Prop. 19 that changed the rules for intergenerational transfers of property. You can help by calling your state representatives and urging them to become co-authors of SCA 4 to repeal the death tax. Look up the names and contact information for your representatives at findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov,
or in the government pages of your local white pages directory.

If you’d like to call Sen. Seyarto and Assembly Member Chen to thank them for introducing SCA 4 to repeal the death tax, their office phone numbers at the Capitol are:

Sen. Kelly Seyarto – 916-651-4032
Assembly Member Phillip Chen – 916-319-2059

In addition to HJTA’s efforts in the Legislature, the HJTA legal team has drafted new language for a “Repeal the Death Tax” initiative that would restore the constitutional right of parents and children, and sometimes grandparents and grandchildren, to transfer property without triggering reassessment to market value and a huge tax increase. The new initiative is undergoing legal reviews and we are developing a strategy to qualify it.

In terms of timing, a legislative constitutional amendment, if passed by two-thirds of the Legislature, potentially could appear on the primary election ballot in March 2024. An initiative constitutional amendment could be on the ballot in November 2024 at the earliest.

We receive calls and e-mails daily in both the Sacramento and Los Angeles offices of HJTA from people who are suffering because of the changes made by Proposition 19. We hear you. Be sure to sign up for e-mail alerts at https://www.hjta.org/take-action/updates-by-e-mail.