Prop 15: Commercial Property Tax

Prop 15 supports requiring commercial and industrial property to be taxed on market value.

Watch “Prop 15 in a Minute: Commercial Property Tax” to understand what a yes or no vote on this proposition means. ​Click on the Settings button for Spanish subtitles. 

For a quick look at all the props, here’s a printable guide in English and in Spanish.

What?

Requires commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value.

Why?

To raise more money for education and local governments, commercial and industrial property owners would be split off from the tax formula that dates to 1978’s Proposition 13.

Vote Yes

Supports a constitutional amendment to require non-agricultural commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price.

Vote No

Continues to tax commercial and industrial properties based on a property’s purchase price, with annual increases equal to the rate of inflation or 2%, whichever is lower.


When California voters passed Prop. 13 in the 1978 “tax revolt,” they allowed anyone who holds on to cheap real estate for decades to pay much lower property taxes than new buyers. Many large businesses across the state benefit from low tax rates. Changing how they are taxed, using what’s called a “split roll,” would increase annual property taxes paid for these commercial and industrial properties by $7.5 billion to $12 billion in most years, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated.

Proponents of the initiative named it the Schools and Local Communities Funding Act. Top contributors to the well-financed campaign included the California Teachers Association, the Service Employees International Union of California and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, run by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Joe Biden and many other prominent Democrats have endorsed Prop. 15.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is portraying this initiative as a dangerous step toward dismantling Prop. 13 and its caps on homeowners’ property taxes. Industry groups say it would hurt the state’s economy at a perilous time by making California a less attractive place for big job creators. Businesses with $3 million or less in holdings in California and properties zoned as commercial agriculture would not be affected by the change, which would be phased in beginning in 2022-2023.

Get Ready to Vote

Nov. 3 may feel far away now, but don’t forget to take the necessary steps to make sure you get to cast your vote! Here are some key details to remember:

  • Register to vote online by or have your mail-in registration postmarked by Oct. 19. If you somehow miss the deadline, all is not lost. You can still conditionally register up to Election Day itself. Not sure what your registration status is? Find out here.
  • Because of COVID-19, California is mailing all active registered voters mail-in ballots this year, so you don’t need to request one.
  • Mailed ballots should be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by your county’s elections office no later than Nov. 20. Scared your ballot is going to get lost in the mail? Don’t fret, the California Secretary of State has a ballot tracking tool so you can get notified of the status of your vote-by-mail ballot via email, text or call. Sign up here.
  • If you want to deliver your ballot in person on Election day, make sure you do so by the time the polls close on Nov. 3.