Prop 19: Tax Assessment Transfers

Prop 19 keeps eligible homeowners’ property taxes low when buying homes.

Watch “Prop 19 in a Minute: Tax Assessment Transfers” to understand what a yes or no vote on this proposition means. ​Click the CC button for Spanish subtitles. 

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

What?

Making it easier for elderly or disabled homeowners or victims of natural disasters to move without paying much higher taxes.

Why?

This is the latest effort to make the property tax breaks that California homeowners have enjoyed since 1978 more portable without depriving the government of revenue.

Vote Yes

Broadens the circumstances in which eligible homeowners can transfer their tax assessments. Requires that inherited homes not used as principal residences be reassessed at market value when transferred. Allocates most of the additional money raised from the ballot measure to wildfire response.

Vote No

Maintains current rules on tax assessment transfers, in which eligible homeowners (over 55, disabled, or victims of natural disasters or hazardous waste contamination) can transfer their tax assessments to a different home of the same or lesser market value.


Voters in 2018 rejected a Realtor-sponsored version of this constitutional amendment that was criticized as too costly to counties and school districts. The Realtors say current property tax rules make it impractical for aging homeowners to move, which would ease the housing crunch for younger families.

The Realtors returned with a ballot measure ensuring anyone who inherits a home from parents or grandparents keeps the low property taxes only if they use the home as their primary residence and only on the first $1 million between the home’s original purchase price and its market value. The net revenue would be allocated to wildfire agencies and counties.

Homeowners over 55 years old, people with severe disabilities, and victims of natural disasters and hazardous waste contamination currently can transfer their tax assessments to a different home of the same or lesser market value. Prop. 19 would allow tax assessments to be transferred to a more expensive home with an upward adjustment. Homeowners over 55 and the disabled could make such transfers three times instead of only once.

Proponents say Prop. 19 removes unfair restrictions on homeowners who need to move closer to family or medical care, downsize, find a home that better fits their needs, or replace a damaged home. They also say it eliminates “unfair tax loopholes used by East Coast investors, celebrities, wealthy non-California residents, and trust fund heirs to avoid paying a fair share of property taxes on vacation homes, income properties, and beachfront rentals they own in California.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposes Prop. 19 for both its tax impact on property inheritance and the process by which it got onto the ballot with a compromise passed by the Legislature subbed out for the Realtors’ original version. “Once again the California Legislature has advanced a massive tax increase at the last possible moment when they thought no one was paying attention,” the association said.

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.