Ballot measure would help parents pass their family business along to their childre
The COVID-19 pandemic hit many family-owned businesses hard. Now as California emerges from the crisis, those businesses are still struggling to stay afloat.
There are 1.4 million family businesses in California. They provide jobs for seven million Californians. These businesses improvised, innovated and gave their blood, sweat and tears to keep their doors open during the height of the pandemic.
It’s now been four months since Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted pandemic executive orders and reopened the state. Yet despite what we all hoped would be a return to normal, California family businesses continue to face more uncertainty.
First, the labor shortage is causing many businesses to cut operating hours or delay expansions that could grow their business. Then the Delta variant hit — spreading throughout the state and causing renewed alarm. And supply chain shortages that are so frustrating for consumers are squeezing businesses who are already under strain and now are unable to restock shelves.
Through all this, family businesses have been learning the full effects of Prop 19, which narrowly passed in November 2020 and brought the Death Tax back to California.
Prop. 19 had some good elements, but it took away voter-approved constitutional protections that allowed families to keep a business or home they worked so hard to acquire.
Now when a parent passes away and leaves behind a family business or home, their children are hit with the Death Tax — reassessment to current market value, triggering a massive property tax increase in the midst of grieving a parent’s death.
The Death Tax is cruel and unfair. When the children can’t come up with the cash to pay the new annual property tax bill, they are forced into an unwanted sale. Lost are California family businesses that took decades of hard work to build along with the dream of passing on a legacy to children and grandchildren.
California can’t afford to lose more family businesses who are uniquely connected and invested in the success of their local community.
That’s why it is so important that we pass the Repeal the Death Tax Act, which will soon be gathering signatures for the November 2022 statewide ballot.
The Repeal the Death Tax Act will restore the constitutional taxpayer protections that California family businesses relied on for nearly 35 years.
The measure brings back the ability of Californians to transfer a family business, farm or other non-primary residential property, valued up to $2.4 million and indexed for inflation, to their children upon the property owner’s death without triggering reassessment and a huge property tax increase.
The measure will also allow parents and grandparents to again transfer their homes to their children and grandchildren upon death and maintain the property taxes at current level.
In essence, the Repeal the Death Tax Act will help to preserve the long-term wishes of parents to pass on their family business or home to their children.
Please think of the family businesses that you rely on. They may have been in operation for generations, not only serving customers but giving back to the entire community. We need these family-owned businesses in California. So when you see signature gatherers in front of stores, please sign the petition for the Repeal the Death Tax Act or visit HJTA.org/RepealTheDeathTax to learn how you can help.
This op-ed originally appeared in the Mercury News.