When it comes to assessing homes or businesses, there is not a Democratic or Republican way. County assessors fairly and equitably administer California’s complex property tax laws and regulations. We try to ignore the political consequences of our actions. Sometimes our assessments result in property tax increases. Other times, we lower property taxes to reflect declining real estate values.

As residents and taxpayers, we care about adequate funding for schools and local governments, as well as the adverse impacts higher taxes can have on businesses and residents. But, as property tax administrators, our duties require us to be subject-matter experts objectively overseeing a complex system that involves tracking every parcel in our counties and ultimately leads to a property tax bill.

However, when an initiative threatens the stability of our entire property tax system, we are compelled to speak out. We have joined the California Assessors’ Association in opposing the split-roll initiative on the Nov. 3 statewide ballot, commonly referred to as the Schools and Communities First Initiative.

If approved by voters, the proposition “splits” the property tax roll, requiring that businesses, farm production and residential properties be assessed differently. As a Democrat and Republican, we do not always agree on politics, but we strongly agree this ballot initiative, as written, simply cannot be implemented by Jan. 1, 2022.

Today, property taxes for both residential and business properties are calculated based on 1 percent of the property value at acquisition. Annual property tax increases are capped at 2 percent, even when property values rise more.

Under the initiative, assessors would be required to reassess commercial and industrial properties to market value at least every three years. The proponents project assessors would add $1.2 trillion in new assessed value virtually overnight.

There is no light switch to make that happen. It is simply not possible.

Collectively, the two of us have more than 30 years’ experience serving as county assessors for Santa Clara and San Bernardino counties. We represent politically diverse communities in different parts of the state. We have joined other assessors in concluding that the split-roll initiative, as written, would not be just challenging to implement, it would be impossible.

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If initiative proponents seek to generate tax revenue to immediately “plug” local government budget shortfalls due to COVID-19, this measure would not do it. Nor should schools count on new revenue in 2022 for their budgets.

The proposition would not generate a net increase in revenue for many years, if at all, not months as promised. Meanwhile, it would create administrative chaos for property tax administrators.

An independent and impartial analysis prepared for the California Assessors’ Association concluded the implementation cost would reach $1 billion during the first three years, with no guarantee it would generate a fraction of the promised $12.5 billion in annual new property tax revenue, or that that the state Legislature would approve the millions of dollars needed to recruit and train hundreds of new senior appraisers. For decades, the state government has failed to pay its fair share to fund property tax administration in …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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