Kevin de León Introduces EQCA-Sponsored Legislation to Protect Home Ownership for Same-Sex Couples

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja, Communications Director
PHONE: (916) 284-9187
EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

Kevin de León Introduces EQCA-Sponsored Legislation to Protect Home Ownership for Same-Sex Couples

Bill Would Allow Unmarried Homeowners to Avoid Property Tax Increases Upon the Death of a Loved One

SACRAMENTO - Assembly Member Kevin de León (D-Los
Angeles), Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, introduced
Assembly Bill 103 today, which would allow two people, including
same-sex couples, who co-own a home together to avoid an unfair
property tax increase upon the death of one of the co-owners. The bill
is nearly identical to an EQCA-sponsored measure that passed the
legislature last year but was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Under
existing law, whenever there is a change in home ownership the home is
reassessed at its current market-price value, and the new owner must
pay property taxes based on that value. Individuals are excluded from
this law if they are the spouse, domestic partner, or relative of the
deceased. However, this exclusion does not protect co-tenants who are
unmarried or unrelated, making same-sex couples particularly vulnerable
to losing their homes when a partner dies. AB 103 would protect
unmarried couples from the unfair burden of increased taxation when one
partner takes over property ownership.

“Without
this legislation, surviving partners are subject to unfair property tax
reassessments that could force them out of the home they have lived in
for years, if not decades,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors.
“This situation is especially tragic for lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender seniors who may not have retirement plans or supportive
family members to rely on in times of need. This difficult economy and
the high foreclosure rate make matters even worse,” Kors said.

“This
is an important step to protect unmarried individuals when they are
most vulnerable, after a loved one dies,” stated Assembly Member de
León. “Without this legislation surviving partners are faced with the
unfair burden of increased taxes on their homes, forcing some people to
have to give them up. That is an appalling situation; people who live
together and are unmarried, whether by choice or because of the law,
should be treated equally to married couples.”

Board
of Equalization Vice Chairwoman Betty T. Yee stated, “I applaud Mr. de
León and Equality California for championing this important measure. It
acknowledges the true diversity of families and households in
California and will keep homeowners, particularly elderly individuals,
in their homes when their co-owner dies.”

To
qualify for the exemption, the bill will require that co-tenants have
lived together in the home for at least one year. The bill next moves
to the Assembly Rules Committee and will be heard in a policy committee
in early Spring.

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Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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