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California Split Roll Tax

If enacted, the 2020 ballot initiative could raise over $11 billion in commercial property taxes in the state, by removing the existing cap for non-residential property holders and adopting a new tax formula that will significantly increase the amount retail and other businesses will owe.

This ballot initiative would upend Proposition 13, the residential and commercial property tax linkage that has been in effect since 1978. The measure proposes to tax “certain commercial and industrial real property based on fair-market value — rather than, as under current law, the purchase price with limited inflation.” Commercial property owners may face substantial increases for the foreseeable future.

In the Media

Tax Raisers Target Businesses – How Long Will Businesses Stay in CA? (Fox & Hounds, 6-25-20)
Politicians Target Property Taxes to Squeeze More Money From Taxpayers Amid Recession (Forbes, 6-17-20)
Split Roll Measure not only a Costly Job-killer, but Difficult to Implement (OC Register, 6-11-20)
Prop. 13 Faces Partial Repeal in November Here’s What is at Stake (The Sun, 6-4-20)
Measure for $10B-plus tax hike may gain traction with stressed local governments (BISNOW, 4-21-20)
Changing Prop. 13 will generate a tax bill that will harm small businesses, especially those owned by minorities (CAL Matters, 4-14-20)
Berkeley Research Group released a new report titled “Taxing Commercial and Industrial Property at Full Market Value” (POLITICO, 4/6/20)
California Farm Bureau Federation will fight ‘split-roll’ ballot measure (POLITICO, 2/19/20)
The Undermining of Prop 13 (TransActionLaw.com, 2-14-20)
Prop 13 changes worry property owners, assessor (The Business Journal, 2/13/20)
California Commentary: Another state tax revolt (Daily Press, 12/15/19)
A Democrat’s Perspective on Prop 13 (Fox & Hounds Daily, 12/13/19)
CA Commercial Property Owners Facing Pervasive Tax Increases if Prop. 13 Split Roll Initiative Passes (California Globe, 12/3/19)


Mayer Brown: Proposition 13 and the Implications of the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020
California Assessors’ Association: White Paper on a “Generic” Split Roll
CalChamber: Split Roll Battle
Berkeley Research Group: Taxing Commercial and Industrial Property at Full Market Value

More about the California Split Roll Tax

In California, residential and commercial property taxes are currently capped at 1-2%. If passed, a proposed Split Roll Ballot Initiative would eliminate the ceiling on commercial property taxes (residential property tax will not change) and mandate that all commercial property taxes be re-assessed to 2021 market values. Commercial property owners may face significant increases for the foreseeable future.

Escalating property taxes have long been a challenge for residents and businesses. Passed in 1978, Proposition 13 limited property tax increases on both residential and commercial property. The constitutional amendment limits property tax increases to no more than 2% per year, regardless of the market value. Typically an owner would only pay taxes based on the property’s real market value when ownership of the property changes.

The measure, if passed, would require immediate reassessment of all commercial, industrial and retail properties throughout California, with regular reassessments every three years. Owners will lose the ability to predict their property taxes and could very well face double-digit increases similar to the property tax rate increases in other states.

What’s at stake:

  • In addition to paying more in taxes because of a new basis, the outcome of the referendum creates vast uncertainty about the level of commercial property tax rates going forward.   
  • Commercial property owners and the public need to work together to educate voters about the detrimental effect split roll will have on the state’s economic welfare.
  • This initiative could destabilize commercial development in California for years to come.  

Access the latest information

No On Prop 15
California Secretary of State: Proposition Numbering Announcement
Ballot Initiative Details

For more information, contact


Global Public Policy Team