SB-520 clarifies that individuals who are required to live-in a care facility are still “occupying their principle residence” for the purpose of qualifying for their Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption.
The California State Constitution under Article XIII, created by Prop 93 in 1988, protected homeowners and created the Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption. While the exemption is enshrined in the Constitution, the definitions of qualification and disqualification are laid-out in statute.
Currently, in order to qualify for the exemption the homeowner must by occupying the dwelling as their principle residence. Any dwelling that the owner is renting out, under construction, is a secondary residence, or otherwise vacant does not qualify for the property tax exemption. What is the definition of “occupying the dwelling,” especially given the additional disqualification of leaving the dwelling vacant? This question arises in situations where individuals are brought to nursing homes, hospice, and other live-in care facilities.
While County Assessors generally understand that medical absence is not an intentional vacancy of the home, and the State Board of Equalization has published their interpretation of occupying and vacancy to include when an individual is absence for medical, the statute is still vague and up for interpretation. This vagueness has caused some families to remove their elderly parents from hospice to come back home, to ensure that the family home qualifies for the exemption.
SB-520 will clarify that being confined to a hospital or other care facility still qualifies an individual as occupying their principle dwelling, to remain qualified for their Constitutionally provided Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption.