Articles Posted in California


In 2018, San Francisco voters approved, by simple majority vote, two new gross receipts taxes: the Homelessness Gross Receipts Tax (SF-HT) and the Commercial Rents Tax (SF-CRT), with both Seal_of_San_Franciscotaxes effective as of January 1, 2019.[1] Because these taxes fund specific governmental services, they are designated as special taxes (specifically, the SF-HT funds homelessness services and the SF-CRT funds early childhood education). Since the California Constitution specifies that special taxes imposed by local government need two-thirds voter approval (i.e., a “supermajority”), taxpayer groups have filed lawsuits to invalidate these special taxes, as both were approved by only a majority vote (61% for the SF-HT and 51% for the SF-CRT).[2] As discussed more fully below, the courts have ruled against these taxpayer groups and the California Supreme Court to date has refused review.

The pressing question is whether San Francisco taxpayers, who paid the SF-HT and/or the SF‑CRT for 2019 and 2020, should be filing claims to protect their rights to refunds in the unlikely (but not impossible) event that these taxes are ultimately rendered invalid.

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Real Estate markets in major cities have taken a hit given the events of the past year. In the latest Swimming Lessons Series presentation,  SALT partner Craig Becker and Real Estate partner Andrew Weiner explore the intersection of transfer tax and enforcement in New York and California. Continue Reading ›


Pillsbury SALT partners Craig Becker and Breann Robowski will present during Pillsbury’s 2021 California CLE Marathons. This event features a wide variety of live webinars on timely topics. Craig and Breann will present “California Property, Transfer and Local Tax Updates” on Monday, January 25.CLE-marathon-logo-300x111 Continue Reading ›


On November 3, California and San Francisco voters were asked to decide several tax‑related referenda with major implications across all business industries. Although it is too early to state with certainty, voters appear to have rejected Proposition 15, a measure that would introduce a so-called “split roll” property tax system. On the same day, voters in San Francisco overwhelmingly approved a battery of tax-related measures: Proposition F, which overhauls San Francisco’s business taxes; Proposition I, which doubles the real estate transfer tax on transactions exceeding $10 million; Proposition L, which institutes an aggressive new “Overpaid Executive Gross Receipts Tax;” and Proposition J, which repeals and replaces an annual parcel tax.

Pillsbury attorneys Craig Becker, Breann Robowski, and William Bennett explain.

To read the full article, please click here.

Posted partners Breann Robowski and Craig Becker will present during CalTax’s Splitting the Property Tax Roll webinar series in October.

Splitting the Property Tax Roll, a webinar series on the Technical Provisions of Proposition 15, will feature a new episode every Tuesday in October.

Breann will present during Episode 1, “California’s Property Tax System” on October 6. The speakers will discuss what California’s property tax system was like prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, provide an overview of the current property tax structure and how the measure has evolved over time, and discuss the provisions of Proposition 15.

Craig will present during Episode 2, “Ready, Set, Split Roll: The Impact of Proposition 15″ on October 13. This webinar will cover the economic impact of Proposition 15, including how the measure would impact consumers and private-sector employment. Speakers will cover how to interpret Proposition 15, drafting flaws, and how the measure would have specific impact on certain industries, including agricultural properties and vineyards, energy, and telecommunications.

For more information, please visit the event page.

CalTax members may find a recording of Breann’s presentation here and Craig’s presentation here.


cost-300x90Pillsbury attorneys Craig Becker and Robert Merten III will present during COST’s 2020 Property Tax webinar, held in cooperation with the International Property Tax Institute (IPTI).

Craig will present “California – Examining Property Tax Issues in the Golden State” on Wednesday, September 16 at 4:10pm. The presenters will address how business taxpayers may have to deal with split-rolls, transfer taxes as a result of the intersection of the Ardmore decision and Prop 13, the erosion of Proposition 13 protections through post-Uplands litigation that may make it easier to increase taxes at the local level, and technology transfer agreements. In addition, renovations of buildings have the potential to trigger “New Building” assessments in California.

Robert will present “Your Tax Department Should Work as a Team – Strategies to Make it Work – Even When Working Remotely,” on Thursday, September 17 at 2:05pm. In this session, the panelists will provide examples of how the different tax types intersect and how those relationships need to be taken into account, especially in the current stay-at-home COVID-19 environment.

For more information, please click here.

Posted California Court of Appeal recently came down with a published decision in the Paula Trust case, a case involving the taxation of trusts and limited partners—two very nettlesome issues in California. (Steuer v. Franchise Tax Board, No. A154691, 2020 BL 240383 (Cal. Ct. App. 6/29/20)). The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and held that the trust was taxable on the entire capital gain generated from the sale of stock in various businesses. The case involves California’s unique and somewhat confusing system of taxing trusts. Generally speaking, the taxability of a trust is dependent upon the residency of fiduciaries (i.e., trustee) and beneficiaries. In this case, there were two trustees—one who was a California resident and one who was a Maryland resident, along with a contingent beneficiary who was a California resident.

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In 731 Market Street Owner LLC v. City and County of San Francisco 731_Market_St-300x180(June 18, 2020), California appellate court affirms that local realty transfer tax does not apply when leasehold has a remaining term of 35 years or more.  SeeSALT authors Craig Becker, Breann Robowski, Richard Nielsen, and Robert Merten III explain.

Read the full article here.

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