Official Arguments (click ▸ to expand)
We are all better off when everyone pays their fair share. But California is giving away billions of dollars in property tax breaks to wealthy corporations. These billions could be used instead to deal with increasing inequality, persistent poverty, unemployment, unaffordable housing, homelessness and underfunded schools. While the wealthiest corporations avoid paying their fair share, our schools have the most crowded classrooms in the nation and our local communities are struggling to respond to the impact of COVID-19. Prop. 15 is a fair and balanced reform which:
- closes property tax loopholes benefiting wealthy corporations
- cuts small business taxes
- reclaims billions of dollars to invest in our schools and local communities.
Prop. 15 will: Close corporate loopholes: Wealthy corporations avoid reassessment by employing highly paid tax lawyers and accountants to exploit loopholes in the law. Prop. 15 closes these loopholes by requiring nonresidential commercial properties to be assessed based on their actual fair market value.
- The top 10% of California's most valuable nonresidential commercial properties account for 92% of Prop. 15's new revenues.
Does not impact homeowners and renters: Prop. 15 exempts all residential properties, maintaining FULL PROP. 13 PROTECTIONS for homeowners and renters. Cut taxes for small businesses: Prop. 15 protects small businesses and cuts their taxes by:
- Exempting businesses operated out of a home and businesses owning $3,000,000 or less of nonresidential commercial property
- Cutting business personal property taxes on equipment, computers and fixtures.
Restore balance to the property tax: Since Prop. 13 passed, the residential share of property taxes has skyrocketed from 55% to 72% and the nonresidential commercial share has fallen. Meanwhile we're paying more in fees, fines and other taxes. Prop. 15 rebalances the scales. Increase funding for schools and community colleges: Every school district and community college will receive additional funding over and above existing funding guarantees. Prop. 15 funds go directly to education and state politicians can’t take it away. Invest in essential workers and local services: Prop. 15 gives local communities desperately needed resources so essential services and frontline workers can respond to current challenges and prepare for future crises, whether from a wildfire, pandemic, or earthquake. Support economic and racial equity: Prop. 15 makes sure schools with the greatest needs get the most help and gives local communities critically needed resources to deal with the unequal impacts of COVID-19, unemployment, and housing costs on communities of color. Prioritize full transparency and accountability by requiring schools and local governments to publicly disclose all new revenues they receive and how they are spent. Protect agricultural land: Prop. 15 makes no change to existing laws affecting the taxation or preservation of agricultural land. We can’t afford business as usual. Prop. 15 rebalances the scales by closing loopholes and supporting our schools, local communities and small businesses. Prop. 15 takes a big step forward toward a better future for all Californians. It was placed on the ballot by the signatures of over 1,700,000 voters who want wealthy corporations to pay their fair share. Please add your voice to theirs: Vote Yes on Prop. 15. TONY THURMOND, California Superintendent of Public Instruction JACQUELINE MARTINEZ, CEO Latino Community Foundation SASHA CUTTLER, Public Health Nurse San Francisco Department of Public Health
PROP. 15 WILL BE THE LARGEST ANNUAL PROPERTY TAX INCREASE IN CALIFORNIA HISTORY—UP TO $12.5 BILLION PER YEAR! Prop. 15's massive increase in annual property taxes will have disastrous economic impacts for every Californian—from small businesses and consumers to farmers and homeowners. PROP. 15 REPEALS TAXPAYER PROTECTIONS IN PROP. 13 Prop. 13's taxpayer protections have kept property taxes affordable by capping property taxes and limiting increases annually, providing taxpayers certainty they can afford their property taxes now and into the future. Prop. 15 eliminates that certainty for millions of taxpayers.
- "Prop. 15 is a direct threat to homeowners. Supporters of the tax hike openly admitted that this is merely the first step in completely dismantling Prop. 13 which voters approved to stop skyrocketing property taxes." —Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
PROP. 15 RAISES OUR COST OF LIVING Prop. 15's tax hike will increase costs on everything people buy, including groceries, fuel, utilities, day care and health care.
- "Too many families have been priced out of their neighborhoods because of the rising cost of living. Prop. 15 will raise the cost of living for California families by up to $960 and will especially hurt lower–income communities." —Alice Huffman, President, California State Conference of the NAACP
PROP. 15 DESTROYS JOBS AND SMALL BUSINESSES Seven million Californians work for a small business. Millions of Californians are filing for unemployment and are at risk of losing everything. NOTHING in Prop. 15 stops the tax from being passed on to small business tenants. Prop. 15 will make the economic crisis worse by devastating small businesses—including our neighborhood restaurants, barbershops, and dry cleaners.
- "Most small businesses rent the property on which they operate. Prop. 15's higher property taxes will mean skyrocketing rents at a time we can least afford it." —Jot Condie, President, California Restaurant Association
PROP. 15 RAISES TAXES FOR FAMILY FARMERS, RESULTING IN HIGHER COSTS FOR FOOD Prop. 15 will raise property taxes on farming—including barns, dairies, processing plants and even fruit and nut trees.
- "Prop. 15 hurts family farmers and we all will end up paying higher costs for groceries including milk, eggs and meat." —Jamie Johansson, President, California Farm Bureau Federation
PROP. 15 LACKS ACCOUNTABILITY Prop. 15 will cost taxpayers $1 billion each year in bureaucratic expenses, and politicians can spend the higher property tax revenue on anything they want, including administrative costs, outside consultants and pay raises.
- "Prop. 15 allows politicians to divert its tax hike revenue to anything the special interests want, just like they’re doing with the gas tax." —Marilyn Markham, Board Member, California Senior Advocates League
INDEPENDENTS, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS AGREE—NO ON PROP. 15. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO RAISE PROPERTY TAXES IN CALIFORNIA. ROBERT GUTIERREZ, President California Taxpayers Association ALICE HUFFMAN, President California State Conference of the NAACP BETTY JO TOCCOLI, President California Small Business Association
California Proposition 15, Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative (2020) - Ballotpedia
Want to read about what else is going on in the political world? Click here. California Proposition 15, the Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative, is on the ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.
✅ San Francisco Chronicle
"For more than 40 years, California has endured a contorted property tax system that punishes home buyers, chills housing construction and rewards businesses who skate by when assessments are set. Proposition 15 would ease the worst of these abuses while protecting homeowners and small businesses. It sets a path that should continue in overhauling an out-of-whack tax code. … Prop. 15 offers a solution to this unfairness. It calls for splitting the rolls, with residential property staying within the present protections while it sets more timely assessments for large business holdings. The heart of the original law that protects homeowners from sharp tax boosts will be saved. Businesses won’t get an undue break."
🚫 The San Diego Union-Tribune
"This is a horrible idea for reasons that go beyond the insanity of imposing the largest property tax hike in state history on employers during a deep recession — and beyond the fact that the cost of the tax hikes would be largely passed on to consumers during a deep recession. Approving Proposition 15 is not about preserving essential government services, as advocates assert. It is about preserving generous government pensions that threaten to bankrupt government agencies across the state."
✅ American Civil Liberties Union SoCal
"Vote to put schools and communities first.
Prop 15 will reclaim $12 billion every year for California’s K-12 schools, community colleges, and critical local services by closing corporate property tax loopholes — all while exempting homeowners and renters, small businesses, agricultural land, and commercial properties with a combined value of $3 million or less. The wealthiest and largest 10% of corporations would generate 92% of Prop 15’s reclaimed revenue. Vote YES on Prop 15 to advance racial justice and reverse decades of disinvestment so we can all have healthy and thriving communities."
✅ Los Angeles Times
"The other way that one could, and we argue should, view Proposition 15 is through a lens of hope. At long last there is a tangible fix in sight for one of California’s most intractable problems: a wildly unfair and lopsided property tax system that for four decades has starved local governments of the revenue they need to provide services and that has distorted the cost of buying a house and starting a business, to the detriment of young families and entrepreneurs. ... Indeed, much of what ails California — crumbling roads, under-resourced schools and inadequate social services — can be traced to Proposition 13 and related anti-tax measures. Proposition 13 also shifted the local tax burden, as cities, counties and school districts increasingly turned to other levies, such as sales, hotel and utility taxes, to make up the lost revenue."
🚫 The Mercury News
"California’s property tax system is a mess. Proposition 15, the “split roll” measure on the Nov. 3 ballot, attempts to fix it. Unfortunately, it only makes matters worse.
The solution is not to apply more Band-Aids and layer more complexity onto an already-broken system. And it certainly doesn’t make sense to increase taxes on businesses when many of them can least afford it.
Rather, we should create a new system that taxes all properties in direct proportion to their values. Proposition 15 fails to do that. Voters should reject it."
Editorial: Prop. 15 won't fix biggest California property tax problem
Get editorials, opinion columns, letters to the editor and more in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up for the Bay Area Opinion newsletter. California's property tax system is a mess. Proposition 15, the "split roll" measure on the Nov. 3 ballot, attempts to fix it. Unfortunately, it only makes matters worse.
🚫 Orange County Register
"Proposition 15 does not raise residential property taxes, but if voters signal that Proposition 13 no longer is sacrosanct, it might not be long before tax-hike supporters come after those protections, too. The measure’s supporters dismiss that possibility, but the foundation of their argument is that Proposition 13 is fundamentally unfair in the way that it assesses a higher rate on newer owners than older ones. Consider yourself warned."
🚫 The Desert Sun
"We agree California taxation needs restructuring, and Proposition 13 most likely must be part of that rewrite — but when the time is right. A clearer vision on how 'split roll' might be phased in over a longer period of time to smooth out potential shocks would help, as would clearer language that ensures promised protections won’t magically vanish or be undone by needed additional legislative action. For now, the vote should be “no” on Proposition 15."
Editorial: Vote no on Props 15, 19 - harmful, poorly timed tweaks to 1978's Prop 13
Endorsements are decided by the Editorial Board, which operates independently of the Desert Sun news staff. The Editorial Board consists of Opinion Editor Al Franco, Executive Editor Julie Makinen, Desert Sun Staff Member Darby Wright and community members Gloria Franz, Becky Kurtz, Terria Smith and Rob Moon.
✅ California Democratic Party
"Balanced reform that reclaims $12 billion for our local schools and communities."
Schools and Communities First
Join the movement to reclaim $12 billion annually for California's schools and communities and Vote Yes on Prop 15.
🚫 Republican Party
"Largest Property Tax Hike in State History
Prop 15 is an $11.5 billion-a-year property tax increase – the largest in state history. It will increase the cost of living and result in higher rents for small businesses when they’re already struggling to survive."