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San Jose, CA property tax attorney for Proposition 19Tax laws in the United States change regularly at both the federal and state levels. In the 2020 election, California voters passed a ballot measure that made some changes to how property taxes are addressed when a person moves to a new home or transfers ownership of real estate property. Taxpayers will want to understand how this new law will affect them and what they can do to avoid tax increases.

Proposition 19 and Property Tax Reassessment

Under Proposition 13, which passed in 1978, property taxes in California are based on the purchase price of a property, and they are subject to small annual increases. When a property is sold or transferred to a new owner, property taxes are reassessed based on the market value of the property. However some homeowners have been allowed to transfer their property tax assessments to a new home. In addition, parents or grandparents could transfer a primary residence to their children or grandchildren without the need for reassessment, and they could transfer other types of property with the first $1 million in value being exempt from reassessment.

Proposition 19 has expanded some homeowners’ ability to transfer their tax assessment to a new home of an equal or lesser value. While this type of transfer was previously only allowed within the same county, a tax assessment will now be allowed to be transferred anywhere within the state of California. An assessment can also be transferred to a new home of a higher value while making adjustments to reflect this increase. Homeowners over the age of 55 were previously limited to one tax assessment transfer, but they will now be allowed to transfer a tax assessment up to three times.

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San Jose, CA property tax assessment attorneyIn the face of receiving dramatic annual increases in property tax bills, in 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, which has limited the rate of property tax increases for the past 40 years, so long as certain criteria are met. 

About Prop. 13

Prop. 13 limits property tax increases to 1 percent of the property’s assessed value. Assessed value cannot be increased more than 2 percent per year. Prop. 13 also provides that property taxes may include any bond payments or special assessments as approved by voters. All special assessments must receive a two-thirds vote. Importantly, a key provision of Prop. 13 for tax planning purposes is that properties will only be reassessed after an ownership transfer or if substantial improvements have been made to the property.

Efforts to Change Prop. 13

Recently, the voters of California rejected an effort to expand protections for property owners as set forth in Proposition 5. Prop. 5 would have allowed some homeowners to take lower property taxes with them when moving.

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San Jose property tax attorney, California property tax, property taxes and liens, back property taxes, public auctionIf you do not pay your property taxes on your home, you risk having your home sold at a tax sale. However, this consequence does not happen immediately, and the government must take multiple steps in order for your home to be sold.

There are a number of actions you can take if you have fallen behind on your property taxes, including speaking with a knowledgeable California property tax attorney.

The most important factor to keep in mind is that your home cannot be sold within five years of the delinquency. You have five years to pay the back amount or enter into a payment plan.

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As the foreclosure bubble wheezes out its last bit of hot air, the courts and tax collectors are no longer borrower friendly or sympathetic in regards to hardships and distressed markets. The dockets are backlogged and the various tax administrations are seeking relief for the debts owed and collateralized by real property.

Asset managers will advise borrowers to work with their attorneys and attempt to mitigate the loss as much as possible. Alternative methods include escrow analysis, loan modifications, repayment agreements, Short Sales, and the Deed in Lieu.

In cases of default each circumstance warrants individual review. If the loan has only been deemed as " nonperforming " for a short time, an escrow analysis should be conducted to evaluate any surplus or shortage being held for the payment of taxes and/or insurance. These funds can be recalculated or reapplied when restructuring the loan. A loan modification or repayment agreement is ideal for this type of defaulted borrower. Being proactive about the situation and working diligently to become current on the payments goes a long way with your lender, while sheltering you from litigation and credit risk.

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Tagged in: Real Estate

Sometimes people balk at paying lawyers to do what they think they can do for themselves. What could be simpler than a will, if you are just leaving everything to your family? All you have to do is name an executor. Two or three sentences, one page, and you are done . Right? Maybe not.

Ethel Hinz died in 1992 with an estate of over $10 million. She left a handwritten will. Her estate still has not been settled after 24 years.

The will was only a few sentences. Ethel named her son executor, describing him as her "sole heir," and saying she trusted he would "subscribe to my wishes, along lines that were discussed previously and privately in the past." Ethel wrote the will just a few days after her daughter had died, survived by two granddaughters, who would of course also be "heirs" if Ethel had not written a will.

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Tagged in: Estate Planning Wills
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