California Proposition 15: Raising taxes on commercial properties worth more than $3M

Election guide

Voting yes on Prop 15 means taxing commercial properties more. Owners would have to pay taxes based on the property’s current market value, instead of the price they paid when they bought it — no matter how long ago.

Prop 15 doesn’t affect business owners with properties worth less than $3 million, nor homeowners and agricultural properties such as farms. Those kinds of properties would continue to be taxed based on the property’s purchase price.

Passing Prop 15 could provide an estimated $6.5 to $11.5 billion in additional funding for local governments and schools.

Voting no on Prop 15 means commercial properties would continue to be taxed based on their purchased price, with yearly increases for inflation or 2%, whichever is lower, as they have been since the 1970s.

Supporters: Teachers’ unions and school districts, including United Teachers Los Angeles and the L.A. Unified School District, support the measure, as well as politicians including Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“We’re asking for companies like Disneyland or Universal Studios that make huge amounts of money to pay property taxes based on fair market value — the same thing that homeowners and, frankly, most businesses have to do,” said California Federation of Teachers President Josh Pechthalt.

Critics: Citing the financial toll of the pandemic, many business groups oppose the measure. So does the California Farm Bureau Federation, which said: “Although its proponents claim agriculture would be exempt, the measure would allow reassessment of agricultural facilities and improvements such as barns, dairies, orchards, vineyards and processing plants.”

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