GAINES GAZETTE
January 2021
I hope you had a safe and joyous time ringing in the new year! I look forward
to the challenges and opportunities that await as I enter my third year as your taxpayer advocate and Member of the Board of Equalization. I will continue working to make California a great place to live, work, and raise a family. As always, I will keep you updated on the latest news and developments. May the
new year bless you with peace, joy, health, and happiness!
New Year, New Laws
The 2020 Legislative Session was far from normal due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop lawmakers from sending a host of new bills to the Governor for his signature, many of which were not business-friendly.

As a small business owner, I know firsthand how difficult it is to operate a business in California. But instead of easing burdensome regulations on pandemic-hammered small businesses, the state keeps piling on. Here are just a few of the bills that will make it more difficult to do business in the coming years:
 
Another Minimum Wage Increase: Senate Bill 3 – a preexisting law – increases the state's minimum wage by one dollar to $14 per hour for large employers and $13 per hour for businesses with less than 25 workers. Minimum wage will peak at $15 per hour in 2023.
 
Sick Leave: Assembly Bill 2017 gives employees the power to use sick leave at their sole discretion for whatever reason they deem necessary.
 
Hand Washing Breaks: Assembly Bill 1867 requires businesses with at least 5 employees to allow a worker in any food facility to leave their workstation every 30 minutes to wash their hands.
 
California Family Leave Rights Act: Senate Bill 1383 requires employers with 5 or more employees (previously 50 employees) to provide unpaid protected family leave for up to 12 weeks for employees to care for themselves, a child, parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse, or partner, as specified.
 
With COVID-19 driving business closures and restrictions, these laws could force already fragile mom-and-pop owners to terminate employees or shut their doors forever. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we need to be doing everything we can to get them back on track.
New Lancaster Office
I’m excited to announce that my Lancaster office has moved!
 
After many meetings and much coordination among multiple agencies, we moved into our new space on June 1, 2020. With a smaller footprint at 1300 square feet comes a more than $2,600 per month savings to taxpayers, which is especially significant since the state’s budget has been severely impacted by California’s stay-at-home order to keep us safe from the coronavirus.
 
While the office is closed to the public during the pandemic, my staff and I are looking forward to the day when you can stop by and say hello. In the meantime, if you need assistance with any state property tax-related matter, don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or email.
December 2020 Board Actions
The Board’s December 16-17 meeting took place using a combination of livestream and teleconference technologies.
 
On Day 1, my colleagues and I voted to extend the tenure of Chairman Antonio Vazquez and Vice Chair Mike Schaefer for an additional year. We also voted on several taxpayer petitions for reassessment of state-assessed properties and received an overview of the BOE's 2021 legislative proposals for the Board’s consideration.
 
On Day 2, we held a lengthy discussion on Proposition 19’s vague and inconsistent provisions and the implementation legislation needed to address various concerns. In addition, we continued discussions on remote assessment appeals board hearings and voted to adopt language that will be used by BOE staff to craft proposals for consideration at a future meeting.
 
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 Implementation Planning
In last month’s newsletter, I discussed the impact Proposition 19 could have on your property taxes. This month, I want to highlight the tight deadlines associated with the new law and share what the BOE is doing to make sure the measure is implemented in a transparent and fair manner.
 
Beginning February 16, 2021, parents and grandparents will no longer be allowed to transfer property to their children or grandchildren without triggering an increase in property tax liability, unless the property is used as the child or grandchild's principal residence.
 
Beginning April1, 2021, Proposition 19 allows eligible homeowners to transfer their Proposition 13 base year assessment to a higher-priced home anywhere in the state, paying increased property taxes only on the difference between the sales price and the new purchase price, assuming those prices are at fair market value.

Proposition 19 also increases – from one to three – the number of times persons age 55 and older and disabled homeowners can use this transfer exclusion.
 
Before Proposition 19 takes effect, several issues must be addressed to ensure proper implementation. As it stands, many questions remain including the following:
 
–What constitutes a “family farm?”
 
–What will happen if a person inherits a residence but is unable to move in within the required time frame due to litigation over issues related to matters such as inheritance, incarceration, probate, or military deployment?
 
–If multiple beneficiaries have been named, are they all required to use the inherited property as their principal residence to avoid reassessment?
 
–What value should a County Assessor place on the assessment roll if a beneficiary moves out of the inherited property after using it as a principal residence for several years?
 
During our December Board meeting, we held a lengthy discussion on Proposition 19’s vague and inconsistent provisions and agreed that staff should continue working with the California Assessors’ Association to develop recommendations for implementation legislation to address these issues and concerns.
 
In addition to legislative recommendations, staff is updating the Assessors’ Handbook and examining which Property Tax Rules and forms need to be amended, created, or repealed with respect to Proposition 19. However, many of those updates will depend on what legislative changes are approved.
 
The Board has posted information regarding Proposition 19 on its website and issued a Letter to Assessors with preliminary guidance. I will continue to update you as information and legislation become available.
Property Tax Postponement Program
Seal of California with the words Office of the Controller features the Roman goddess Minerva a grizzly bear feeding on grape vines a sheaf of grain a miner and sailing ships. The state motto Eureka meaning I have found it is written above Minerva.
Applications for the 2020-21 tax year are now available for the State Controller’s Property Tax Postponement (PTP) Program, which 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.

In September, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order extending the PTP filing deadline for homeowners in counties affected by wildfire, giving County Assessors more time to perform reassessments due to fire losses.

While the standard PTP filing deadline is February 10, 2021, homeowners in counties hit by wildfires will have until June 1, 2021, to apply for the program.

Funding for the program is limited, and applications will be processed in the order received. For more information, please visit my Resources page.
District Attorneys' Pro-Crime Agenda Must End
The following is an excerpt from my recent opinion piece published in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal showing how crime in California is certain to increase as District Attorneys continue to push their “deincarceration” agendas and refuse to hold criminals accountable for their actions. Californians deserve better!
 
What good are tax dollars if our elected leaders don’t use them to provide citizens with basic and necessary government services? California is about to learn the hard way that all the money in the world means nothing if its leaders abandon reason and responsibility.
 
In the latest example of a state gone haywire, Los Angeles County’s recently elected District Attorney, George Gascón, laid out a stunning pro-crime agenda that would be viewed as satire in most parts of the country.
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!