Burdens and Benefits

Investigating Prop. 13’s unequal impacts in Oakland

report cover with photo of a residential neighborhood in Oakland

California’s Proposition 13 is one of the most studied property taxes in the country, but how does it affect the lives of residents in Bay Area cities? SPUR and the Tax Fairness Project explored how the law impacts homeowners in Oakland, with a look at who receives the largest benefits from the state’s unique property tax law and who shoulders the burdens from its constraints on revenues.

Our research finds that:

• Homeowners in white neighborhoods see an average of $10,000 in annual tax savings

• Homeowners Latinx neighborhoods see just $3,000 in annual tax savings on average

• The city misses out on around $400 million in annual tax revenue because of Prop. 13

In short, Prop.13 does little to benefit the majority of Oakland residents while preventing the city from collecting revenue that could be used to provide vital goods and services. The law contributes to the Bay Area’s racial wealth gap, allowing homeowners in higher-income and whiter neighborhoods to save thousands of dollars in taxes, while limiting the government’s ability to invest in services that could benefit the people who need them most. More research is needed to better understand how Prop. 13 impacts Bay Area communities and to determine whether and how to change the law.

Read the brief


Watch a video on our findings: