What is 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, call the Assessor’s district office.

Proposition 13 FAQ

The assessed value of my property increased more than 2 percent this year. There was no change of ownership or new construction. Doesn't Proposition 13 limit annual increases in value to 2 percent?

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.

If a home was purchased in 1975, when will the next increase in property value take place?

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.

What is the property tax rate that will be applied to my assessed value?

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.

Why is my tax bill more than 1% of the market value of my home?

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.

Why do I have to pay more taxes than my neighbor whose house is newer and larger than mine?

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.