If passed in November 2020, SCF would assess commercial property at its current market value (and reassess each property every 3 years) for property tax purposes. Once fully implemented, it is estimated that it will raise an additional $12 billion annually. Forty percent of that sum will be distributed according to the existing State school funding formula to our K-12 school, directing additional funds to all schools, with those in low-income communities benefitting more significantly. The remaining 60% will be distributed to the counties, cities and special districts based on the commercial property in their jurisdiction. LAUSD, with a current budget of $14 billion, would receive more than $1 billion annually. An additional $2.5 billion would flow to LA County (current budget $36 billion) and cities within the County.
The Measure will not apply to commercial property owners who own less than a combined $3 million in commercial property. The increased assessments and taxes will be phased in over a period of two or more years beginning in 2022 to reduce disruption, and properties that lease primarily to small businesses are granted an extra deferral (until at least 2025) for the effects of the Measure, with the idea of protecting lessees with “triple net” leases from incurring large cost increases. Current estimates indicate that upwards of 70% of the increased property tax revenues will be paid by a relative handful of large commercial property owners. Finally, SCF would eliminate the business tangible personal property tax on equipment and fixtures on small businesses and provide an annual exemption of $500,000 on this tax for all other businesses.
Commercial property taxes in California would still remain low by national standards. Even if SCF were to pass, for example, the City of Los Angeles will still rank 42nd out of the 50 largest cities in terms of commercial property taxes.
The Measure provides for full transparency regarding how the new revenues will be spent. It requires school districts and local governments to make clear annually how each dollar has been spent.