Equality California
Senate Approves EQCA-Sponsored Bill To Help Protect Surviving Partners in Same-Sex Relationships
August 13, 2012

CONTACT: Shaun Osburn, Equality California
PHONE: 415-286-4036 EMAIL: shaun@eqca.org

Senate Approves EQCA-Sponsored Bill To Help Protect Surviving Partners in Same-Sex Relationships

(San Francisco) The California State Senate voted 34-1 today to approve AB 1700, which remedies unequal treatment in the tax code that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors at significant financial disadvantage from unfair tax increases that may result in the loss of their homes after the death of a partner. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D-53), passed the Assembly by a vote of 48-23, and will now proceed to Governor Jerry Brown's desk.

"This law protects co-owners of property who have purchased a home together and depend upon each other for financial support," said Butler. "It is simply unfair to place an extra burden on homeowners who are not married when the death of a co-tenant endangers the ability of the survivor to stay in their home. I'm proud to make California a more equitable state."

"The loss of a beloved partner is devastating and should not come with the added burden of a dramatic increase in taxes for individuals on a fixed income or, worse, the trauma of losing of one's home," said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president. "We are grateful for the hard work of Assemblymember Betsy Butler in assuring LGBT people an equal opportunity to stay in the homes they've built a life in over a lifetime with the person they love."

Since Proposition 13 was passed in 1978, the legislature and voters have carved out certain exclusions to the general "change in ownership" rule that triggers reassessment of property tax values. For example, the transfer of property to either a husband or a wife after the death of either is not considered a change in ownership. There are similar exclusions for transfers between parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren.

Due to the patchwork of laws surrounding same-sex relationships, some LGBT senior couples are not covered under existing safeguards against property tax increases that may threaten their ability to remain in their homes. These seniors could be devastated with tax increases that forced them from their homes upon the death of their loved ones; AB 1700 addresses this situation in keeping with the intent of Proposition 13 to keep families in their homes. This patches a hole in the tax code that modernizes and brings in line existing tax law with the intent of Proposition 13.

The bill also extends protection from onerous tax increases to any mutually-supporting co-owner households upon the death of one of the partner co-owners, meaning that family relationships like those of brothers and sisters or unmarried co-parents would qualify for an exclusion from the tax reassessment under the bill.

To learn more about Equality California-sponsored legislation, visit, www.eqca.org/legislation.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 85 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org