A pamphlet about new tax laws is displayed at Liberty Tax Service tax in Oakland, Calif., on April 16, 2018. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
California hasn’t seen a change to its property tax process in over 40 years since the passing of Proposition 13, an amendment to the California constitution, which in part established a required two-thirds voter approval for local and state governments to raise special taxes or to pass a bond measure to tax residents.
Now that may change with a new ballot measure, a result of the now-passed ACA1 authored by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), which would lower the required voter-approval threshold to 55 percent statewide for taxes aimed at generating revenue for affordable housing and for public infrastructure projects, like parks, libraries, police and fire stations or any public building.
California voters will ultimately decide whether to approve the measure in November 2024.
According to Assemblywoman Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach), Prop. 13, which went into effect in 1978, was designed to protect taxpayers from tax increases. However, the recently proposed ballot measure is an attempt to slowly chip away at its protections under the guise of spurring affordable housing construction, she said.
“There’s language in the proposition that says this is for affordable housing. We all know that there’s a housing crisis. So, this is to tug a little bit on our heartstrings,” she said in a recent interview with Epoch TV’s “California Insider
Instead, it should be difficult to increase taxes, according to Ms. Dixon.
“Two-thirds is hard to get. A tax increase, the imposition of new taxes, a tax increase on people should be hard to do. Otherwise, it'll be done regularly and the sky’s the limit,” she said.
If approved, Ms. Dixon said California could see an increase in the cost of consumer goods if property taxes become higher, since landlords may charge higher rents, leading to businesses who rent property to charge more for their goods.
“Anybody who rents a property or a business, a small business, you know, your local hair salon, barber shop, restaurant, shoe repair store, their rent will go up,” she said.
Another amendment up for vote in November, ACA 13, seeks to increase the voter threshold of approval for ballot initiatives from 51 percent, to two-thirds. Such are proposed through voter signatures via a petition, instead of by local governments and the state Legislature.
The proposed change is due to what’s known as a citizen’s initiative called The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, which will also be on the November 2024 ballot and would, if passed, close loopholes created by the courts, that have allowed local governments to raise taxes with a simple majority, instead of by the required two-thirds mandated under Proposition 13.
Ms. Dixon said the amendment is directly targeting ACA 1, which would create more government-owned housing, which she said is not a good idea.
“I don’t think [the] government should be in the housing business,” she said.
Diane Dixon speaks at Newport Beach City Hall in Newport Beach, Calif., on Oct. 12, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)