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Proposition 72 - Exclusion of Rain-Capture Systems from Property Tax Reassessments

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Primary Elections, June 5, 2018


Rainwater capture systems are one way to create additional supplies of water. A rainwater capture system collects and stores rainwater that falls on the roof of a building. The system uses pipes to direct water from roofs and gutters to large storage tanks. Stored water can be used for things like watering plants or flushing toilets. As a result, these systems reduce somewhat the demand for water from local water systems. Rainwater capture systems installed on homes typically cost a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Systems installed on business properties or apartments typically cost several thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

California local governments—cities, counties, schools, and special districts—levy property taxes on property owners based on the value of their property. A property includes land plus any buildings or other improvements on the land. Property taxes are a major revenue source for local governments, raising over $60 billion per year statewide.  When a property owner makes an improvement to his or her property, the county assessor typically updates the property’s taxable value to reflect the improvement.

Proposition 72 permits the Legislature to allow construction of rain-capture systems, completed on or after January 1, 2019, without requiring property tax reassessment.

A YES vote on Proposition 72 means installing a system to collect and store rainwater on a property could not result in a higher property tax bill.

A NO vote on Proposition 72 means installing a system to collect and store rainwater on a property could result in a higher property tax bill.

Fiscal Impact:

According to the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO), Proposition 72 would probably result in a minor reduction in annual property tax revenue to local governments.

CCC Position:

No position.

Reflections on Church Teaching:

"In a system of taxation based on justice and equity it is fundamental that the burdens be proportioned to the capacity of the people contributing."  - Mater et Magistra, Encyclical of Pope John XXIII on Christianity and Social Progress, May 15, 1961 (132). 

"The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone.  If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others."  - Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si : On Care for our Common Home (May 2015).

"It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom.  The love and service of one's country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.  Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country."  - Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2239-2240.