Proposition 13 in California     rev 11.24.2004 Back to Lessons List

Got into a discussion recently over the "fairness" of Proposition 13......

I mentioned:
I bought my house in '78, paying $97K for it. Property taxes, under Prop 13, are now* around $1500-1700 a year.
[*note: that was 2003; taxes were $2050.70 in 2004]

He says:
I have a comparable house in a comparable neighborhood (1960 square feet) and pay $4500 in annual property taxes. We bought for $414K in 1996 (and thought we got a reasonable deal). Despite your retiree status, I have a hard time finding that fair.
And our schools and other services just got screwed out of your $3000 because of Prop 13. There must be a better solution than that.

It's all simple, really. I'm going to finish out my career as a mixer at Jamba Juice and I'm going to make sure my children learn to be fluent in Spanish, Hindi and the two major dialects of China. Oh, and we'll have to sell our California house (where we pay $4500 annually for property taxes -- although our home is in a similar neighborhood and quite comparable to [yours], while [you] pay $1500 under our lovely Proposition 13) and move to the hinterlands of North Carolina.

So I says:
My wife and I actually were considering moving to NC last year... we've got relatives in Raleigh and friends in Chapel Hill. Haven't checked on the property taxes, though. Everyone calculates them differently, you know...
For about $500k, we can get about 3-4000 squares plus a few acres of forest.... and i really do want a three car garage plus a workshop, and it does look feasible for that price....
Now, imagine we've just sold our house here, hypothetically, for about $750K, maybe $850K, since housing prices here are still going up, not down, so the new owner of our old house gets a house about the size and style of yours, not more than ten miles away, but is paying $7500-$8500 a year in property tax, and you're "only" paying $4500. [prices adjusted to 2004]

Where's the "fairness" in THAT?!

Why don't you step right up and pony up the difference to support the schools?

Wouldn't THAT be "fair"?

------that's why i don't use th word "fair", and teach children and young adults to not use it, either.

Update: 11.2004:
Just got back from visiting North Carolina and Texas. You can get 3000+ squares in very nice developments outside Raleigh, surrounded by woods [which my home here is not for under $350k;
in Spring Texas, outside Houston, $350k will get you about 1/4 acre, 4500 squares, 7-bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, 3-car garage [maybe an upgrade to 4-car garage if you negotiate with the builder, and, like a friend of mine's there, across the street from a children's playground which is backed up by a golf course. Nice view of the rising sun through the trees and across the fairways.

Bottom line: When you moved here and bought the house, you knew very well what the taxes would be; you also had a good idea of the chances that your house would appreciate in the local market much more than it would in some other city in some other state. You also knew [or could have easily found information] about Proposition 13, and how some "old homesteaders" would be paying lower "per acre taxes" than you would for as long as they didn't move out of the house they bought decades ago. That's where "fair" starts and ends. If you don't consider it "fair" now, you should have considered it "unfair" before you moved here, and should have made that part of your decision to move to this "unfair" region or not. For you to complain now that it's unfair, is pure and simple: "Sour Grapes." And that's from Aesop's Tales, which were written long before Proposition 13.
You live here now. Deal with it, but don't attack my budget or finances.

My next-door neighbors bought their house a few decades before I moved here. When they were shopping for a home, they looked at several in our neighborhood, finally deciding that they could the then-$21,000 house next to mine, because the one around the corner at $24,000 was just out of their reach.

I don't begrudge them their lower taxes; why don't I deserve the same consideration from you? Don't live your life that way. It won't be as much fun.

email , Subject= Prop 13 and "Fairness"
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