What is Prop 15? Voters to decide property tax hike on big business

For decades, California property tax laws have remained the same, but Proposition 15 could change that.

ByAdrienne Alpert via KABC logo
Friday, October 30, 2020
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For decades, California property tax laws have remained the same, but Proposition 15 on the Nov. 3 ballot could change that.

As Election Day on Nov. 3 approaches, California voters will be asked to decide on Proposition 15, which would increase funding for public schools, community colleges and local governments by changing how commercial and industrial properties are taxed.

Back in 1978, Proposition 13 was the taxpayers' revolt against high property taxes and doing anything to change it was considered touching the third rail of politics. Proposition 15 would change it.

Proposition 15 increases property taxes on most commercial real estate worth more than $3 million. It does not touch private property tax.

Private property taxes and smaller businesses would continue to be assessed on their purchase price. Proposition 15 would assess taxes on commercial and industrial property at market value and that's called a "split roll."

Ever since Proposition 13 was approved, California has looked for some way to increase property tax revenues without initiating another taxpayer uprising.

The state's fiscal analyst estimates the initiative would generate between $8 billion and $12 billion in new revenue every year.

The money would go to schools and local governments.

Opponents say the tax increase will raise our cost of living by being passed on to everything we buy and many businesses who rent property will have the tax increase passed on to them.

Proposition 15 is a state constitutional amendment that would be phased in over three years if approved.

CA PROPS: Everything to know about the 2020 ballot measures

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