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May 26, 2009 (Sacramento)—Assembly Bill 157, a measure authored by Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) to help fire victims and other disaster survivors, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 18 by a unanimous vote. Under Anderson’s bill, homeowners in the 2003 Cedar Fire, as well as those who lose homes in other disasters after July 1, 2007, will have seven years to replace their homes in San Diego County without facing property tax consequences.

The tax relief bill would increase from five years to seven years the timeframe for a property owner to acquire or construct a property to replace one damaged or destroyed in a Governor-declared disaster, while remaining eligible for a base-year value transfer from the damaged property to a new home within the same county. The measure enables disaster survivors to avoid triggering Proposition 13 provisions that would normally require one to pay higher property taxes on a new or replacement home.

According to the San Diego County Assessor’s Office, few property owners are still seeking a base year value transfer from the 2003 Cedar Fire. The Legislative Analyst’s office estimates that the annual revenue loss to the state of California from the bill would be $10,000, with fewer than 10 disaster victims per year seeking an average of $1,000 per property for base year value transfers in the fifth through seventh years after a disaster.

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