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Press Release: New Coalition Takes Aim at Making the  Commercial Property Tax Code Fair

Sacramento, CA – At an event this morning at Sutter Middle School, dozens of community, faith-based, civil rights and labor organizations came together to launch Make It Fair, a movement to ensure that big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners pay their fair share of property taxes by assessing their property at fair market value.

According to research released last week by USC PERE, re-assessing commercial property at its current market value could add up to $9 billion to state coffers each year after phase-in. Thanks to loopholes in Prop. 13, some big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners are still paying taxes linked to the 1975 value of that land – costing the state billions each year. State Senators Loni Hancock and Holly Mitchell are planning to introduce supporting legislation later this month.

“California is losing billions of dollars every year thanks to problems in the law that allow some big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners to avoid paying their fair share,” said Anthony Thigpenn, spokesman for Make It Fair and President of California Calls. “We’re building a statewide movement to reform the law, close the loopholes and bring that revenue back to our communities to strengthen our schools, provide tax relief to small businesses, support affordable housing, public safety and other important services.”

More than thirty-five years ago, Prop. 13 was passed to provide important protections for homeowners and renters – but it also included big loopholes for some corporations and wealthy commercial property owners, and some have used the law to avoid paying taxes on the actual value of their property. In some cases, businesses have gotten an unfair competitive advantage based solely on when they bought a piece of property. In other cases, they’ve used legal loopholes in the law to avoid reassessment when their property changed hands.

Make It Fair is committed to the following principles:

  • Assessing commercial and industrial property at fair market value in order to close commercial property tax loopholes,
  • Investing the resulting funds (up to $9 billion a year) in education and neighborhood services we all rely on,
  • Protecting homeowners, renters and agricultural land from any changes,
  • Providing tax relief for small businesses, and
  • Including accountability provisions so new funds are spent appropriately.

Over the coming months, the Make It Fair coalition will be embarking on an aggressive grassroots and legislative outreach effort to improve public awareness of this issue and advocate for reform. Hundreds of organizations and individuals have already signed up to be part of the effort. A full list can be found online.

“We’re going to be reaching out to every part of this state because this is an issue that impacts every community in the state,” said Thigpenn. “Make It Fair reforms commercial property taxes, protects homeowners, renters and agricultural lands, improves accountability and lets us invest in schools and communities once again. This is a crucial movement to improve our state.”

 

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