Proposition 19 Why the delays

Special Bulletin from LA County Assessor Jeffery Prang

PROPOSITION 19: WHY THE DELAY?

Below is information received from LA County Assessor Jeffery Prang:

"I am receiving more and more emails and phone calls from frustrated property owners asking about the delays in the processing of property transfers, specifically, senior citizen “base year transfers” and “parent to child transfers.” Because California is now subject to a new law governing some of these transfers, known as Proposition 19, I want to take a moment to explain why these delays are occurring."
 
Prop. 19, approved by the voters last November, is still posing challenges for California assessors who are responsible for administering the new law. The measure is very complex and requires significant technological and administrative changes that have been difficult for the 58 county assessors to implement and that has led to processing delays and raising the ire of property owners and assessors alike.
 
Prop. 19 is a Constitutional amendment to Proposition 13 that allows seniors and the disabled to sell their home and buy a new one without experiencing an increase in property taxes. However, Prop. 19 also changed the property tax benefits for parents who plan to leave their homes to their children (and in some cases grandchildren), reducing many of the family inheritance benefits that were in place pre-Prop. 19.
 
This change may sound easy, but as with most legislation by the ballot box, there were enormous operational issues that have resulted in delays and scores of frustrated taxpayers wondering why everything is taking so long to implement.
 
Here’s why:
 
First, Prop. 19, as adopted, was practically unenforceable. The amendment’s ballot language contained numerous ambiguities, contradictions and other deficiencies. It took my Office and other assessors’ statewide weeks to analyze the impacts and requirements needed to implement the measure. We subsequently drafted proposed legislation to fix the many administrative deficiencies.
 
Next, Prop. 19 only provided assessors 3-4 months to implement the measure.  Given the fundamental changes that are required to our operations and technology, and the establishment of new statewide logistics and protocols, assessors conservatively needed at least 18 months to fully implement the measure.
 
The timeline mandated for implementing the measure was not possible to meet. Assessors had to, and continue to, dedicate significant resources to try and quickly implement the measure, however, much more work remains to be done to fully comply with the Prop. 19 requirements.
 
As is often the case with ballot measures, this one needed legislative clarification to help assessors untangle many of the ambiguities in the law. Legislation was written and introduced, Senate Bill 539, that addressed many of the deficiencies that assessors required to administer the measure, but it was only passed and signed into law by the Governor on September 30th, meaning that assessors worked for months with little clarification and guidance on how to administer the measure.
 
While I greatly regret the inconvenience that property owners are experiencing with Prop. 19, we are doing all we can considering the many challenges we’ve had to overcome. It is a laborious and time-consuming process.
 
I must emphasize the implementation of Prop. 19 will continue to be a significant challenge resulting in confusion and uncertainty for both the public and administrators for many more months.
 
My Office has undertaken enormous efforts to provide comprehensive outreach and public education, while internally developing new systems, protocols, and guidelines to streamline the Prop. 19 claims. Additionally, we developed a dynamic landing page on our website dedicated to Prop. 19 that offers valuable resources and information, assessor.lacounty.gov/prop19. It also includes tools that will help you estimate your new property tax basis when the law requires an adjustment to your assessment.
 
To learn more, I invite you to check out our new, improved website at assessor.lacounty.gov.