Prop 19: California voters pass changes to property tax rules

California voters have approved Proposition 19, that gives exemptions to older homeowners, the disabled and wildfire victims and strips breaks from people who inherit homes but don't live in them.

The measure received 51% of the more than 15.3 million votes cast, giving a big victory to the California Association of Realtors, which made major changes to a similar initiative in 2018 that voters rejected by 20%.

What does this mean?

Under Prop 19, homeowners who are 55 or older or who have lost a home in a natural disaster who may be afraid to move out of fear of higher property taxes can now transfer their tax assessment to a more expensive home three times (instead of the previous one-time allowance).

The exemption is expected to fuel home sales by encouraging people who were reluctant to move because their tax bills would rise sharply.

The measure also eliminates an exemption used when someone transfers a house to a child or a grandchild. Prop 19 says that if the child or grandchild doesn't live in the inherited house, the tax value will be reassessed.
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Ballot titles usually give voters some idea what the measure is about, but Proposition 19 is about so many things, it was given a vague title: Changes Certain Property Tax Rules.

Revenue from the measure will also go toward establishing a new state Fire Response Fund.

A vote of more than two-thirds of both houses in the state Legislature placed the measure on the ballot this year. In 2018, the Realtors Association got on the ballot by gathering voter signatures.

Supporters raised $63.8 million, including $58.6 million from the California Association of Realtors and $4.9 million from the National Association of Realtors. Opponents raised less than $50,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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