Property tax reassessments occur when a property changes ownership. There are exceptions for transfers between married couples, state registered domestic partners, transfers between parents and children and for other limited circumstances. For years, and even prior to same sex couples having many rights at all, domestic partners registered with the city of San Francisco were also exempt from reassessment when property changed hands whether it was due to a death of a partner or because one was buying out the other (usually the equivalent to a divorce prior to legally recognized relationships). But domestic partners with properties in other counties in California, or those registered with other counties were not necessarily exempt from reassessment. Also, without much notice or fanfare, after June 2008 San Francisco City and County suddenly no longer recognized city registrations for exemption and only California State Registered domestic partners and married couples were recognized for exemption purposes. Those who had not yet gone beyond city registration were subject to reassessment. It was a confusing time for many couples and even for many county assessors.
Prior to 2008, when laws were in flux, various bills were passed statewide to exempt CA state registered domestic partnerships retroactively to 2003 and for unrelated persons, to allow for transfers at death between joint tenants from being reassessed if their invests had been acquired at the same time and later put into reciprocal trusts. Later there was a bill passed exempting non-related co-owners who inherit from each other. But there were folks who had at one point been afforded some protections by being registered with a city who without much notice were no longer protected and were unexpectedly facing higher property taxes because of a partial transfer of real property.
As of September 29, 2018, locally registered domestic partners who were reassessed on any transfers between January 1, 2000 and June 26, 2015 can apply for relief on a go forward basis. AB 2663 means that anyone who was registered with a city or county and was reassessed can file a claim with the county assessor to have their property taxes reduced to what they would have been had there not been a reassessment. There will not however be a refund for the interim time higher property taxes have been paid.
If you think that you may have a case to have your property taxes reduced, you should consult your local assessor and if you need further assistance, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Deb L. Kinney
Partner at Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica