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Could This Obscure Tax Break Boost Commercial Property Owners?

California State Capitol

A movement to extend property tax relief to commercial property owners amid the coronavirus pandemic is underway in the California Capitol. 

The state's Board of Equalization is considering changes to tax law that would result in counties having to extend tax rebates to commercial landlords hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, 48hills reported. That includes proposals that would give commercial property owners the same claims for relief as if their properties were physically damaged by a fire or earthquake. 

One of the movement's critics is Santa Clara County Assessor Lawrence Stone, who has publicized his disapproval of the extension and others under consideration by the BOE.

"Consideration of proposals, such as mandating through rules and LTAs that assessors immediately provide property tax refunds for major corporations, is the apex of irresponsibility, in direct violation of the State Constitution," Stone wrote in a May 12 letter to BOE board members.

The shortfall created would devastate local budgets and funds for schools and local governments, Stone added.

"I cannot underscore enough, the impact these recommendations will have on schools and local government," he wrote.

The changes, which are being advanced by the California Alliance of Taxpayer Advocates, according to one of Stone's letters to BOE, have been discussed on public policy hearings on April 21 and May 13, BOE Chairman Antonio Vazquez said. Another public meeting is scheduled for May 29. 

CATA didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

BOE Chairman Antonio Vazquez said in a statement: “As Chairman, I am committed to fair and transparent public policy meetings during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and I believe it’s especially important to ensure that taxpayers’ rights are protected and that as an elected official I take into consideration that taxpayers and our county agencies may need deadline extensions, if possible, during this challenging time.