The Lebowski property tax break

Because of a ballot measure passed in 1986, California is the only state in the country where children get to inherit their parents’ low property taxes on the homes they leave behind. That’s why you may have heard that Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges is paying only $5,700 a year in property taxes on an oceanside Malibu home his parents bought in the 1950’s. Like the vast majority of those who benefit from this inheritance tax break, Bridges doesn’t live in the Malibu home–he and his siblings rent it out, for $15,000 a month.

On this week’s Gimme Shelter, CALmatters’ podcast on California’s housing crisis, data reporter Matt Levin and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon talk about Liam’s investigation into the unintended consequences of that 1986 initiative. First, a very brief interview with the Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, profiled in the story as one of the beneficiaries of the tax break. Then, for the Avocado of the Fortnight, Liam reveals how he discovered his lead for the piece would involve “The Dude” (6:00). Then a discussion of the implications of inheriting Prop 13 benefits for local and state governments, and for the inter-generational transmission of wealth (12:00). Matt explains some surprisingly consistent polling on Prop. 13 (30:00). And finally an interview with Bob Flasher, a 73-year-old retired park ranger who inherited a second home in Sonoma County but has mixed feelings about his property tax benefits (36:50).

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