Hearings Held on Bill that Provides Tax Relief for Same Sex CouplesAssemblymember Kevin de León

by Boyce Hinman

Hearings have been held on AB 2735 that would protect some same sex couples from property tax increases on their home by the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee. The hearings were held Monday, May 3, however a final decision on the bill, by the Committee, was put off until at least the week of May 9.

AB 2735, introduced by Assemblymember Kevin de León (AD 45), says that upon the death of one co-owner of property, the transfer of the deceased’s half of the property to the other co-owner, would not be a change of ownership. So, the death of one of the co-owners would not result in an increase in property taxes on the property.

 

Currently, when married couples, or registered domestic partners, jointly own their home and one of them dies, the survivor gains full ownership of the home. But under state law this is not considered a change in ownership, and so the county cannot reassess the property and possibly raise the property tax on it.

However, same sex couples who are neither married nor registered domestic partners, most often do not have this protection. So when one of them dies, the survivor could face an increase in property taxes. Ab 2735 Would give these couples protections against property tax increases, on the death of one of them, under the following circumstances:

Principal Place of Residence. The home was the principal residence of both of them immediately
preceding the death of one of them and both continuously lived there for the one-year immediately preceding the death.

Ownership. For the one-year period immediately preceding the death both were owners of record of the property.

Form of Ownership. The property must have been held in a tenant in common or joint tenancy form of ownership with no other individual holding title to the property.

Death. The transfer of ownership must result from the death of one of them and the survivor must
obtain a 100 percent ownership of the home immediately after the transfer.

Method of Acquisition. Upon the death of one of them, the property must be acquired by the other via a will or trust; or intestate succession; or by other operation of law.

This could help a lot of same sex couples. According to the US Census Bureau, there were over 84,000 same sex couples in California in 2008. Roughly 51,000 of them were reported to be registered domestic partners. In addition, 18,000 were married. But most of the legally married couples are probably among the 51,000 registered domestic partners. Most domestic partners, who married in 2008, never legally terminated their domestic partnership. So, up to 33,000 same sex couples might be helped if AB 2735 were to be passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.

You can track the progress of this bill, and 14 other LGBTI related bills, by directing your browser to: www.calcomui.org and then clicking on “LGBTI Issues” on the left side of the resulting page.

Boyce Hinman is the founder of the California Communities United Institute and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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