If you are a homeowner, you are about to pay your second installment of property taxes on your home. These taxes must be paid no later than April 10. This assessment continues to grow longer and more expensive and more confusing each year. This year, my assessment includes 18 taxes that are NOT the actual property tax. Many taxes include vague names such as “CO Retirement Levy”, “Comm College Bonds” and “SCVWD Safe, Clean Water”. These plot taxes for schools, county pension bonds, housing and hospital bonds are added to our assessment once voters approve them.
Here are some of the tax measures in Santa Clara County from last November’s election that now exist on your tax assessment: Measure R (Cambrian School District), Proposal RR (Caltrain Rail Service Tax), Measure L ( Campbell Union High School District) Parcel Tax), measure P (Evergreen Elementary School District Bond), measure K (Franklin-McKinley School District Parcel Tax), measure A (Los Gatos Create Finance Commission Initiative) and measure J ( San Jose-Evergreen Community College District Bond).
Adding to the confusion, many of these taxes are no longer calculated for us. This leaves it up to the taxpayer to try to determine how much to pay for each of these tax sub-categories. These complex new taxes, coupled with consistent new legislation, make it difficult for homeowners and housing providers to manage their property without professional assistance. This again creates another expense as a barrier to homeownership and exacerbates the Bay Area wealth gap.
Rising taxes are a big factor in raising the cost of living in the Bay Area. California has one of the highest income tax, gasoline, and sales tax rates in the United States. What most people don’t know is that property taxes increase the cost and difficulty of homeownership, making it more difficult to qualify for home loans. To qualify for a loan, most lenders require buyers to have a salary that is three times the monthly mortgage amount, taxes, insurance payments, and sometimes HOA fees. Rising property taxes are also forcing businesses to raise the prices of their products and housing providers to raise rents to cover rising costs.
Many people are unaware that they can be exempted from some of these burdens. Some of these obligations (parcel taxes) exempt seniors because they recognize that seniors live on a limited income. These obligations also pass more easily because the elderly will not object to them at the ballot box if they are exempted from paying them.
Unfortunately, the process of finding and applying for these exemptions is often difficult and confusing.
Fortunately, the Santa Clara County Real Estate Association has created a web page to help our seniors find and apply for these exemptions so they can more easily afford to stay in their homes. Find out if you qualify for these tax exemptions and how to apply for them by visiting www.sccaor.com/parceltax
Johnny Khamis is a former San Jose city councilor who is currently running for the District 1 seat of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.