New Split-Roll Property Tax Initiative Aims for 2020 Ballot
August 15, 2019
Proponents of a ballot initiative that would raise significant new revenue for counties, schools, cities, and special districts filed a revised proposal this week. The measure, titled “The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020,” would create a split-roll property tax, assessing most commercial and industrial property at its full value, but not changing the rules for any residential, agricultural, or small business properties. The measure would also not change the constitutionally capped rate of one percent on property in the state.
In a very unusual turn of events, a very similar initiative, supported by the same groups, has already qualified for the November 2020 statewide ballot. Filing this new measure will require the proponents to gather nearly a million valid, new signatures to qualify their updated proposal. Assuming the new initiative qualifies, the proponents will be able to withdraw their initial measure.
If either measure passes, they could raise nearly $11 billion in new revenue, according to a fiscal analysis prepared by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. That revenue, which would be dispersed in essentially the same manner as current property taxes, would bring substantial additional funding to local governments, community colleges, and K-12 school districts.
The new initiative differs from the previous one in a few ways. It would push back implementation dates, raise the threshold for the small business exemption from $2 million to $3 million, and tighten up language to avoid loopholes large companies could have used to avoid higher taxes.
Both proposals require annual reimbursement to counties for their administrative costs—mostly related to the assessor’s office—as well as reimbursement of the state’s General Fund for personal income and corporate tax revenue losses. The updated initiative language strengthens the definition of county administrative costs.
If you have any questions about these initiatives, please contact CSAC’s Geoff Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org.