The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California’s leading taxpayer advocacy group, has filed an initiative with the Office of Attorney General that will restore the right of parents to transfer their home and limited other property to their children without reassessment to market value.
The “Repeal the Death Tax” initiative will restore the provisions of two voter-approved initiatives that were erased by Proposition 19 in 2020. Many voters did not realize that Prop. 19 removed protections from reassessment that had been in place for nearly 35 years.
HJTA’s initiative will restore Prop. 58, approved by nearly 76% of voters in 1986, which created the parent-child exclusion from reassessment when property is transferred between generations. It will also restore Prop. 193 (1996), which extended the same rights to grandparents and grandchildren if the children’s parents were deceased.
“Proposition 19 was sold to voters as protection for wildfire victims and seniors who wanted to move to a new home,” said Jon Coupal, president of HJTA. “Our initiative does not change those provisions at all. But we believe voters did not intend to enact the biggest property tax increase in California history, one that hits families who have a just lost a parent.”
HJTA recently sponsored Senate Constitutional Amendment 4, a legislative constitutional amendment to restore the family transfer provisions. SCA 4, authored by Sen. Kelly Seyarto with principal co-author Assemblyman Mike Gipson, did not move forward in the Legislature despite compelling testimony at a May 10 hearing in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.
Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang testified in strong support of SCA 4, emphasizing that voters were not informed of the complex and costly effects it would have on property tax reassessment of long-held family homes as well as businesses built over generations. “These neighborhood markets, auto shops and family-owned restaurants are community staples,” he said, but they are “in jeopardy of closing their doors when they are hit with high tax bills.”
Veronica Nelson, 1st VP of the Sacramento Realtists Association, testified that it’s essential to address the damage that Proposition 19 is doing to families in communities of color as they try to build economic security for the next generation. She raised the concern that Prop. 19 has put tenants at risk of eviction by requiring the reassessment to market value of family-owned apartment buildings when parents pass away. The Realtists organization, the California Association of Real Estate Brokers, was founded in 1947 to serve the needs of the Black community at a time when racism and redlining blocked that community’s access to homebuying and real estate services.
“The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is a grassroots organization with hundreds of thousands of members,” Coupal said. “We are the group that put Proposition 13 on the ballot to protect the lifelong investment of hardworking California families. The “Repeal the Death Tax” initiative will restore the protections that Proposition 19 took away and help families build security for the next generation.”
Signature collection will begin after a title and summary are issued, likely in August.