Proposition 13

Adopted in June 1978 by the California voters, Proposition 13 substantially changed the taxation of real property. As a result of this constitutional amendment, the Assessor is required to appraise real property as of the date of the change-in-ownership or when new construction occurs.

  • The maximum amount of property tax cannot exceed 1% of the property’s assessed value, plus any bonds or fees approved by the voters.
  • Real property can only be reappraised upon a change of ownership or new construction. Business and personal property, including boats, airplanes, and certain restricted properties are subject to annual appraisal.
  • The value determined at change of ownership or new construction is increased each year by an inflation index not to exceed 2% per year. This inflation-adjusted value is called the “factored base year value”.
  • Properties purchased before March 1, 1975 will have a base year value of the 1975 assessed value.
  • For more information, contact your local Assessor’s district office.


Proposition 13

The most likely reason is that under California’s unique “Proposition 13” property tax system, the maximum assessment on real property is limited based on the value at the time it was acquired. This “base year value” cannot be increased by more than 2% each year, so it is normal for people who have owned their properties for many years to have lower assessments than neighbors who acquired the property more recently. The only other time a property’s assessment would reflect its current market value is if market value were to fall below the Prop 13 value limitation at some point in the future, known as a Prop-8 temporary value reduction.

In addition to the general tax levy of 1%, Prop 13 allows the tax bill to include bonded indebtedness (sewers, streetlights, etc.) previously approved by the voters to be added to the 1% general tax levy. This amount will vary across the county.

Proposition 13 limits the general property tax rate to 1 percent of the assessed value, plus an amount for the debt service on any bonds approved by popular vote. The tax rate will vary depending on where the property is located. You can obtain the exact tax rate for a particular parcel by contacting the San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller’s Office at 909-387-8322.

Under Prop 13, the law dictates that the taxable value each year can increase no more than 2%. If however, there is a change of ownership or new construction after 1975, this may require a re-appraisal, which would establish a new prop-13 base year value.

Under Proposition 13, base year values may not be increased more than 2 percent per year. A property under Proposition 8, however, is not restricted to the 2 percent increase. For example, in a situation where a property’s market value increased 20% since the prior lien date, but the value is still below the Proposition 13 adjusted base year value, the new increased Proposition 8 value will be enrolled.