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Analysis Shows 71% of Alameda County Properties Have Proposition 13 Base Year Dates of 1990 or Later

An analysis of Alameda County Tax assessor annual reports, conducted by Action Alameda News, shows that 71% of the parcels on the County’s 2009-2010 tax roll have a base year date of 1990 or later. Those properties account for 90% of assessed property value on the tax roll. Parcels for the city of Alameda are not broken out separately.

Proposition 13, approved by voters in 1978, rolled back property values and introduced a restriction on the annual increase of assessed property value in California (2%) and a limit on the tax rate on property (1% of assessed value.) Each property is assigned a “base year” valuation, upon which the annual 2% increase is based; base years for properties change when ownership of a property changes.

Property tax in California is an ad valorem tax, meaning that the amount of tax paid rises and falls with the value of the property. Action Alameda News previously reported that the Alameda County Tax Assessor is proactively reviewing and revising downward property values in the County due to property value declines in the wake of recession.

Each year, the Alameda County Tax Assessor produces an annual report, which includes a table showing the breakdown of of the parcels and assessed value by base year. A common criticism of Proposition 13 is that it reduces the amount of property taxes available to schools, cities and counties, because of the restrictions on the increases in annual assessed value and the tax rate; critics say that long-time commercial and residential property owners don’t pay their fair share of taxes due to the restrictions.

However, an analysis by Action Alameda News shows that 48% of parcels in Alameda County have a base year of year 2000 or later, and 71% of parcels have a base year of 1990 or later. 90% of the assessed property value on the County’s total tax roll has a base year of 1990 or later. From 1989 to 1999, the County’s tax roll for property swelled 206%; from 1999 to 2009, the tax roll grew by 77%.

These figures indicate that the vast majority of properties, whether measured by number (71%) or assessed value (90%) have a base year valuation of 20 years or less. They also suggest a high rate of rate of property change of ownership in the 20 year period from 1990 to 2009.

The table below illustrates the figures in the study, as available from the Tax Assessor Annual Report.

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