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January 12, 2011 Written by 

Domestic Partners

As of January 1, 2006, registered Domestic Partners were provided many of the same property tax benefits received by married couples. The benefits are the result of legislation, Senate Bill 565, introduced by Senator Carole Migden and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. In 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 559 extending these benefits to Domestic Partners who were registered between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2005.

Combined, these laws allow a Domestic Partner, who is registered with the Secretary of State, to be excluded from reassessment when a registered Domestic Partner is added or removed from property title, whether by deed or by death, provided that the interest is conveyed to the registered Domestic Partner that remains on title.

They also exclude transfers of real property and mobile homes between Domestic Partners registered in the State of California from the meaning of “change in ownership” that in other circumstances results in reassessment for property tax purposes. Change in Ownership, as used by the State Board of Equalization and/or Assessors, denotes a conveyance that results in reappraisal at market value for assessment purposes pursuant to section 60 et. seq. of the State of California Revenue and Taxation Code. Below is a copy of a "Letter to Assessor" dated November 1, 2005, from the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) that provides more detailed guidance to Assessors about implementation of SB 565. Additionally, below is a prior "Letter to Assessor," dated March 3, 2005, from the BOE that provides more broad Property Tax advice concerning Domestic Partners. As the letter preceded passage of SB 565, some of the advice is no longer valid.

Beginning with the deeds recorded January 3, 2006, the Assessor's office will identify transfers between registered Domestic Partners by reviewing the Preliminary Change in Ownership Report (PCOR) that is typically filed with the Recorder’s Office at the same time a deed is recorded. The PCOR is not a public document; it is merely collected by the Recorder and forwarded to the Assessor together with an electronic copy of the deed. A copy of the form can be downloaded below.

Our procedure is to review the PCOR when processing deeds to determine whether or not the transfer requires reappraisal to current market value for assessment purposes. Therefore, it is important that all questions are answered and that the form is signed and dated. To the extent that we can identify that the transfer was between registered Domestic Partners, it will be excluded from reassessment.

If an interest in a mobile home is being conveyed between domestic partners we encourage you to call or e-mail our Mobile home unit so that we can mail you a PCOR for completion to assist in our determination of the reassessment status of the transfer.

These laws are subject to legal interpretations and court challenges. Therefore if you are contemplating transferring real property or a mobile home, the Assessor's Office urges property owners to contact your attorney and/or accountant prior to the transfer. Transferring an ownership interest may have unintended and potentially unwelcome financial and legal consequences. The advice contained above is not intended to substitute for comprehensive financial advice, nor does it provide legal advice; rather it is to inform registered Domestic Partners of important changes in the law.

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  •  Retroactive Domestic Partner Law to end June 30, 2009
    Since 2006, most registered domestic partners have been afforded the same property tax rights as married couples. One of the major benefits was that a surviving domestic partner, whose partner had died, would not be faced with a potentially steep reassessment and increase in property taxes. Unfortunately the law did not include eligible domestic partners registered prior to 2006. In 2007 Senator Chris Kehoe changed the law to correct this anomaly. Senate Bill 559 retroactively extends to domestic partners registered between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2005, the same property tax benefits afforded domestic partners that registered on or after January 1, 2006. Howevere, the law requires qualifying taxpayers to apply for the exclusion by June 30, 2009.

Real Property Division

County Government Center
East Wing, 5th 
70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: 408-299-5300
Fax: 408-299-3015
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