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State Could Switch Prop. 13 Property Tax Burden to Businesses

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Are Proposition 13's days numbered? Democrats in Sacramento indicate that the time has come to fix the 1978 proposition that has kept property taxes extremely low by only reassessing commercial and residential property values when that property is sold. A number of potential changes are floating around, and one idea comes from San Francisco assembly member Tom Ammiano who plans to introduce a bill this year to create a "split roll" treating commercial and residential property taxes differently. He's proposing no change to residential property taxes but wants to reassess commercial property values (and therefore adjusting taxes) annually or semiannually, reports Media NewsGroup: "The turning point for reformers could come when homeowners begin to realize they're carrying most of the load for property taxes, proponents say. In 55 of 58 counties, residential homeowners are paying more property taxes than businesses, after businesses had taken up much of the burden before Proposition 13, according to a study compiled by Lenny Goldberg, president of the California Tax Reform Association." But Ammiano's proposal and other Prop 13 reforms face an uphill battle. Support for the proposition overall is still high statewide, and while 58 percent of voters favored the split roll plan in a recent poll, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg doesn't think the time is right to make the change.
· California Democrats signal they want to reform Proposition 13 [MNG]