Proposition 19: Unveiling the Impact on San Diego’s Property Taxes

In 2020, California voters narrowly passed Proposition 19, a constitutional amendment that significantly altered how property taxes are calculated for San Diego residents. The amendment, while introducing benefits for homeowners over 55, also brought about limitations on property tax benefits related to inheritances. Let’s explore the nuances of Prop 19 and its implications for San Diegans.

1. Over 55 and Moving: A Change in Tax Dynamics

One of the primary provisions of Prop 19 allows individuals over the age of 55 to maintain their original tax rate when selling their home and purchasing a new one. This benefit can be availed up to three times, providing a unique opportunity for older homeowners to transition without facing a significant hike in property taxes.

2. Property Tax Benefits on Inheritances: A Shift in Landscape

However, the benefits introduced for homeowners over 55 come at a cost for property tax benefits on inheritances. Before Prop 19, individuals could retain the original property taxes on inherited properties, including second homes, vacation homes, rental properties, and businesses. Now, this benefit is limited to properties inherited from a parent or grandparent, and it applies only if the heir makes the property their primary residence.

3. Gentrification Concerns and Communities of Interest

San Diego County Assessor Jordan Marks emphasized the impact of Prop 19 on communities, particularly its role in wealth-building and maintaining communities of interest. The changes in property tax laws aim to address issues related to affordability and gentrification, ensuring that communities can endure over time.

4. Filing Challenges and Time Sensitivity

Marks highlighted the challenge individuals face in maintaining the original tax rate. To do so, heirs must file necessary paperwork with the county’s tax assessor’s office within one year of the family member’s passing. This adds complexity, especially during emotionally challenging times when families are dealing with the aftermath of a loved one’s passing.

5. Navigating Loss Program: A Helping Hand in Times of Grief

Acknowledging the complexities introduced by Prop 19, the San Diego County Assessor’s office has initiated a Navigating Loss Program. This program is designed to guide family members through the paperwork and processes online, helping them avoid sudden and substantial increases in property tax bills.

Conclusion: Balancing Change and Community Stability

While Prop 19 has undoubtedly brought changes to San Diego’s property tax landscape, it reflects a delicate balance between providing benefits for older homeowners and addressing broader community concerns. As San Diegans navigate these shifts, the proactive efforts of the assessor’s office aim to ease the process and minimize the impact on families dealing with loss.

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