SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
OCTOBER TERM, 1991
certiorari to the court of appeal of california, second appellate district
No. 90-1912. Argued February 25, 1992—Decided June 18, 1992
In response to rapidly rising real property taxes, California voters approved a statewide ballot initiative, Proposition 13, which added Article XIIIA to the State Constitution. Among other things, Article XIIIA embodies an "acquisition value" system of taxation, whereby property is reassessed up to current appraised value upon new construction or a change in ownership. Exemptions from this reassessment provision exist for two types of transfers: exchanges of principal residences by persons over the age of 55 and transfers between parents and children. Over time, the acquisition-value system has created dramatic disparities in the taxes paid by persons owning similar pieces of property. Longer term owners pay lower taxes reflecting historic property values, while newer owners pay higher taxes reflecting more recent values. Faced with such a disparity, petitioner, a former Los Angeles apartment renter who had recently purchased a house in Los Angeles County, filed suit against respondents, the county and its tax assessor, claiming that Article XIIIA's reassessment scheme violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The County Superior Court dismissed the complaint without leave to amend, and the State Court of Appeal affirmed.
Held: Article XIIIA's acquisition-value assessment scheme does not violate the Equal Protection Clause. Pp. 10-18.
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