Proponents of the split-roll initiative amended the measure September 17 to make several changes while maintaining the main provisions that would require annual market-value reassessments of business and commercial property.
The amendments appear to be in response to a September 10 letter from the California Assessors’ Association (CAA) that criticized many provisions of the initiative, stating that the measure is “both ambiguous in some sections and overly narrow in other sections,” and “will create significant unintended consequences for ALL property owners, including homeowners and small business owners.”
The amendments do not fully address the assessors’ concerns, however. The CAA noted that the comments in its five-page letter did not cover all the problems with the initiative. “The fundamental legal, administrative and financial problems created by the language contained in this initiative are only partially addressed in these comments,” the CAA wrote.
The CAA added: “Assessors were not consulted in the drafting of this Initiative, which contains substantial and avoidable ambiguities above and beyond the significant challenges posed by reassessing commercial industrial property.”
CalTax President Robert Gutierrez said that even after the proposal’s third revision, the split-roll measure is fatally flawed both in principle and execution.
“This latest do-over doesn’t change the fact that the initiative would result in a massive tax increase at a time when the state already has both a record-high operating surplus and reserves,” Gutierrez said. “This initiative would result in higher costs for Californians, and job losses that would hurt families throughout the state.”
The amendments are to the version of the split-roll initiative that was filed in August and has not yet been cleared to circulate for signatures. The initiative was filed by the same proponents who last year qualified a split-roll measure for the November 2020 ballot – representatives of the California League of Women Voters, California Calls and PICO California.
The amendments’ significant changes to the second version of the measure include:
- Provisions establishing a “Task Force on Property Tax Administration” to examine and recommend to the Legislature all statutory and regulatory changes necessary to implement a split roll. The task force would consist of a county assessor or designee, a State Board of Equalization member or designee, a proponent of the ballot measure, a taxpayer representative, and a member of the Legislature or designee.
- Provides further guidance for the Legislature in crafting a process to hear appeals resulting from the reassessment of property. The new provisions require that the appeals process shall not include automatic acceptance of the taxpayer’s opinion of values within a given time-frame, and shift the burden of proof to the taxpayer to prove that the property was incorrectly valued.
- Changes the definition of “small business” under the initiative by removing the requirement that the owner and officers of the business are residents of California and that the business is not dominant in its field of operations.
- States that the initiative maintains the State Board of Equalization’s oversight of the property tax system.
- For residential properties with a mixed or limited commercial use, the initiative now would require that 75 percent or more of the property by square footage or value be residential to qualify for an exclusion from reassessment.
Article courtesy of the California Taxpayers Association.
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