GAINES GAZETTE
March 2021
February Board Actions
The Board’s February meeting took place over the course of three days using a combination of livestream and teleconference technologies.
 
Although we spent time on our regular monthly Board business, the bulk of the meeting was focused on Proposition 19, The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act, which was passed by voters last November.
 
We heard from the California Assessors’ Association (CAA) as well as the BOE’s Executive Director, Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate, and staff members from the legal, communications, and legislative advocacy teams regarding the steps that have been taken to help property owners comply with the confusing measure.
 
The BOE is legally required to administer Proposition 19 as it is written but does not have legal authority to make substantive revisions to address flaws that have been identified. That is why the BOE and CAA support Senate Bill 539 (Hertzberg), which will help clarify many vague and inconsistent provisions of the new law. Property owners have technical questions that cannot be answered until the proposed changes in SB 539 are passed by the Legislature.
 
While the bill makes its way through the legislative process, the BOE will continue to update its Proposition 19 guidance. These updates can be found on my website. Additionally, several Letters to Assessors have been issued related to various aspects of Proposition 19.
 
We are proud as a Board to continue meeting our constitutional duties using various virtual platforms and remain committed to our mission to serve Californians through fair, effective, and efficient tax administration in support of state and local governments.
Proposition 19 Puts Family Legacies at Risk
White toy house placed on wooden floor with words property tax written above it
The following is an excerpt from my recent opinion piece published in the Bakersfield Californian:
 
A massive change to property tax law is coming soon that could cost families thousands of dollars a year and affect how parents and grandparents pass down properties through generations.

Proposition 19, passed by California voters last November, makes major adjustments to the “parent-child” and “grandparent-grandchild” exclusions, all to the harm of taxpayers. Prior to Prop. 19, parents and grandparents could transfer their principal residence to a child or grandchild with no value limit and without adjusting the property tax base year value, meaning that the child or grandchild would not be saddled with a huge new property tax assessment when they became owner. The person receiving the property could live there, rent it out, use it as a second home, or let it sit empty – there were no restrictions on property use to qualify for the exemption. 
Senate Bill 668 Delays Part of Proposition 19
On February 19, State Senator Patricia Bates introduced Senate Bill 668, which delays the implementation date of one provision of Proposition 19 from February 16, 2021, to February 16, 2023.
 
The delay would apply only to the intergenerational transfer exclusion (parent-child and grandparent-grandchild) provision, providing time for county assessors, the BOE, and the Legislature to clarify ambiguities in the new law. The delay would not apply to the base year value transfer provision that will become operative on April 1, 2021.
 
I support SB 668. Our Board has had lengthy discussions about Proposition 19’s tight timeline and heard from many families concerned about the potential tax liabilities. SB 668 will provide extra time to clarify various implementation concerns. Proposition 19 resulted in a significant change to California’s property tax system and we owe it to all Californians to get it right.
 
The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.
Free Tax Assistance Available
The 2020 tax filing season is upon us! The IRS offers several free programs from February 1 through April 15 to taxpayers needing assistance:
 
·        Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) offers help to people who make $57,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance preparing their tax returns.

·        Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offers help to taxpayers who are 60 and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues.
 
According to the IRS website, many VITA sites and all TCE sites are closed until further notice due to COVID-19. However, you may use the VITA Locator Tool to find an in-person site near you. For fastest service, check the website for a variety of online resources and tax help including tax forms, instructions and publications, online payment options, and IRS Free File – a tax return filing tool free to most taxpayers.
National Ag Day & World Ag Expo
March 23, 2021 marks the 48th anniversary of National Agriculture (Ag) Day, celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. This year’s theme is "Food Brings Everyone to the Table.”
 
California’s Ag Day is usually celebrated on the West Lawn of the State Capitol; however, due to COVID-19, this year’s event will be held virtually. Sponsored by the California Farm Bureau, Capitol Ag Day 2021 will give Californians an opportunity to celebrate the bounty of our state’s agriculture, and for farmers and ranchers to meet virtually with elected officials.
 I also want to share information about World Ag Expo, the largest outdoor agricultural exposition in the world. Due to COVID-19, show attendees couldn’t gather last month in Tulare. Instead, they gathered virtually at World Ag Expo Online. The chats, seminars, and other events are available to view online at no charge and will be updated throughout the year with educational content and interactive opportunities from exhibitors, media partners, universities, the Center for International Trade Development, and more.
 
I’m proud to represent many of the farmers and ranchers in California who work hard to supply food to our nation and the world. I encourage you to take a moment to reflect and be grateful for the role that agriculture plays in our lives. The entire agriculture sector—from the farm to the grocery store—brings food to everyone’s table.
Property Tax Postponement Deadline Extended
The 2020-21 State Controller’s Property Tax Postponement (PTP) Program allows homeowners who are seniors, blind, or have a disability to defer current-year property taxes on their principal residence if they meet certain criteria including 40 percent equity in the home and an annual household income of $45,000 or less.
 
Governor Newsom extended the PTP filing deadline for homeowners in counties affected by wildfires to June 1, 2021. Those counties include Butte, Del Norte, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.
 
Funding for the program is limited, and applications will be processed in the order received. For more information, please visit my Resources page.
California Taxpayer Association turns 95!
Congratulations to the California Taxpayers Association on 95 years of advocating for taxpayers and providing tax policy research to Californians and elected officials. CalTax, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, was founded in Los Angeles on February 24, 1926, and has grown to be the state’s largest and oldest association representing taxpayers.
 
CalTax strives to give taxpayers a voice regarding laws, regulations, and policies proposed by government officials that will affect their family budgets. I agree with CalTax’s founding principal that taxes are necessary but government should never take more than necessary to cover its expenses and should spend tax dollars wisely before asking for more.
 
It's not easy being a low-tax advocate in California, and I appreciate all the work CalTax does to oppose unnecessary taxation and support government efficiency!
At Your Service
White sign with words Customer Service in red sitting next to a bell with a finger pushing down on the ringer. Picture of Board Member Ted Gaines sitting in a black desk chair wearing a light blue shirt and striped tie.
As a Board Member, my number one priority is to advocate for taxpayers. I believe hardworking Californians deserve to have someone working on their behalf to streamline and promote efficiency in state government.
 
Should you need assistance with tax-related problems or have questions, visit my website for information on how to contact my office or email me directly anytime.
Mark Your Calendar!