February 15, 2018 - The Governor proposes to create a three-year grant program to distribute $5 million per year to select county assessors to cover the majority of the cost of new staff and information technology upgrades. In general, there are good reasons for the state to provide funding to county assessors. We, however, suggest the Legislature consider an alternative grant program. Specifically, we suggest allocating the funding to county assessors to cover a certain portion of one-time costs for information technology upgrades.
March 13, 2014 - In this report, we provide an overview of local property tax administration and review the administration's proposed three-year pilot program to improve tax administration and generate state General Fund savings. In particular, we (1) describe how the current property tax system weakens the incentive counties have to fund property tax administration, (2) review and evaluate the administration's three-year pilot program to improve county incentives, and (3) provide recommendations regarding the pilot's design. In our view, the administration's pilot program merits the Legislature's serious consideration but could be improved by incorporating several modifications. These include: ensuring each county has the same fiscal incentive to participate, providing participating counties greater funding certainty, promoting representative and consistently measured results, and potentially increasing near-term state savings on school spending.
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.