November 29, 2012 - Property taxes and charges are a major source of revenue for thousands of local governments in California, generating more than $55 billion in revenue in 2010-11. At the same time, many elements of California's property tax system are complex and not well understood. The purpose of this report is to serve as an introductory reference to this key funding source. In the report, we answer some common questions about the state's property taxes, such as: what taxes and charges are on the property tax bill, what properties make up California's tax base, which local local governments receive property tax revenue, and how does the property tax affect the state budget. We also identify some policy concerns related to how property tax revenue is distributed among local governments and evaluate the property tax system relative to common tax policy criteria.
March 20, 2014 - For about 100 years, California’s local governments generally could raise taxes without directly securing their residents’ consent. Beginning in 1978, the state’s voters amended the California Constitution several times to require that local government tax increases be approved by local voters. Recently, the Legislature has shown interest in exploring changes to voter-approval requirements for local taxes. Several proposals to place changes before the voters have been introduced during the current legislative session. This report was developed to provide context for discussions about changing these requirements. After a brief introduction to local governments in California, the report (1) summarizes the state's existing system of voter-approval requirements for local taxes, (2) explains how the state's complex voter-approval system evolved, and (3) reviews outcomes of local tax elections over the past 15 years.
December 17, 1996 - The purpose of this guide is to help the Legislature, local officials, and other parties understand Proposition 218, including the actions local governments must take to implement it.
April 9, 2007 - What are the different types of taxes upon which California relies? What is their relative importance, and how have they evolved over time? How large a “burden” do these taxes impose on Californians, both in absolute terms and compared to other states, and how is this burden distributed? What types of policy issues are associated with the current tax structure, especially in light of our changing economy? The purpose of this primer is to address these and other tax-related questions, so as to aid policymakers and other interested parties in their tax-related deliberations and decision making.
April 5, 2013 - Presented to Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee
February 18, 2004 - Similar to the 1990s, the budget proposes to shift $1.3 billion of property taxes from local governments to K-14 districts and reduce state education spending by an equal amount. In our view, the Legislature should use its authority over this tax for the overall betterment of local government, not as a state rainy day fund. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature reject this proposal. If the Legislature chooses to review proposals to reduce local taxes, we offer guidelines for this process and outline an alternative budget reduction consistent with these guidelines. While this alternative also represents an undesirable intrusion into local finance, it would have fewer negative effects.
January 18, 2001 - Proposition 1A of 1998 authorized $9.2 billion to finance school facilities. Its companion legislation appropriated $160 million to reimburse school facility fees paid for new homes. In this report we recommend that the Legislature eliminate the $60 million in scheduled appropriations for these reimbursements in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
February 3, 2014 - Presented to Assembly Local Government; Housing and Community Development; and Revenue and Taxation Committees.