Op-Ed: Who’s Exempt from Parcel Taxes in Santa Clara County?

If you’re a homeowner, you’re about to pay your second installment of property taxes on your home. These taxes need to be paid by April 10, but this assessment continues to grow longer, costlier, and more confusing every year.

This year, my assessment includes 18 taxes that are not the actual property tax. Many of those taxes include vague names like “CO Retirement Levy,” “Comm College Bonds” and “SCVWD Safe, Clean Water.” These parcel taxes for schools, county retirement bonds, housing and hospital bonds get tacked on to our assessment after voters approve them.

Here are just a few of the tax measures in Santa Clara County from last November’s election that now exist on your tax assessment: Measure R (Cambrian School District), Proposition RR (Caltrain Rail Service Tax), Measure L (Campbell Union High School District Parcel Tax), Measure P (Evergreen Elementary School District Bond), Measure K (Franklin-McKinley School District Parcel Tax), Measure A (Los Gatos Create Finance Commission Initiative) and Measure J (San Jose-Evergreen Community College District Bond).

Adding to the confusion, many of these taxes are not calculated for us anymore. This leaves the taxpayer to try to figure out the amount they need to pay for each of these subcategories of taxes.

These complex new taxes—coupled with consistent new legislation—make it difficult for homeowners and housing providers to manage their property without professional assistance. This, again, creates another expense as a barrier to homeownership and exacerbates the Bay Area’s wealth gap.

Rising taxes are a big factor in making the cost of living higher in the Bay Area. California has one of the highest income, gasoline and sales tax rates in the United States. What most people don’t know is that property taxes raise the cost and difficulty of homeownership, which makes it harder to qualify for home loans.

To qualify for a loan, most lenders require buyers to have a salary that is three times the monthly mortgage, tax, insurance payment and sometimes HOA fees. Rising property taxes are also forcing businesses to raise prices on their products and housing providers to raise rents to cover the rise in their costs.

Many people do not know that they may be exempt from some of these burdens.

Some of these bonds (parcel taxes) exempt senior citizens in recognition that those residents live on a limited income. These bonds also pass easier because seniors will not oppose them at the ballot box if they are exempt from paying them.Unfortunately, the process to find and apply for these exemptions is often difficult and confusing.

Thankfully, the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors has created a web page to help our seniors find and apply for these exemptions so they can more easily afford to stay in their homes. Residents and find out if they qualify and how to apply by visiting the association’s website.

Johnny Khamis is a former San Jose councilman who is currently running for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 1 seat. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].


  1. We should probably just vote so all of these junk fees are per occupied housing unit instead of tying it to the parcel taxes. This way it will be more obvious to the renter voters that at the end of the day the more taxes they vote for the higher their rents are.

  2. Good article Johnny!

    I thought the 14th Amendment to our sacred Constitution of the United States of America provided “equal treatment” under the law.

    So, why do some, get a “tax exempt status” since taxes are compelled by law?

    Hope you get elected for D1.

    David S. Wall

  3. Most of the additional parcel taxes Johnny Khamis cites are to support public school and community college development and operations. Had it not been for Proposition 13 (1978), that radically restrained property tax revenues used for public education throughout the state, the parcel tax add ons Mr. Khamis complains about would not be necessary. The hard fact is that the additional parcel taxes are the piecemeal and accumulated work arounds for cascading public education funding shortages of the last four decades.

    Of course, Mr. Khamis is not arguing to expand property tax revenues so as to allow more rational, efficient systematic and orderly funding of decades of deferred maintenance and needed physical and programmatic improvements. Quite the opposite: he wants to further starve and restrict the public sector by further reducing property and other taxes. For Mr. Khamis, the growing wealth gap is not due to the abject failure of private real estate developers to produce affordable housing, or businesses’ inability to create living level wages for half the workforce or a half-century of declining income, property and estate taxes for the wealthy. In Mr. Khamis’ world, “housing providers” (his euphemism for landlords if you haven’t noticed) are chomping at the bit to do right. It’s the damned government regulations and taxation that get in the way.

    Isn’t it funny how the people most opposed to the role of government are the most anxious to be elected government officials. Of course, to do so, Mr. Khamis has to make a pitch for his current employers–the nice folks at the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors–who double as enablers for his electoral campaigns (https://sanjosespotlight.com/former-san-jose-lawmaker-has-a-new-gig-in-real-estate/). How is it that San Jose Inside failed to note Mr. Khamis is in the employ of the Realtors Association?

    Let’s send Mr. Khamis back to his beloved private sector where he will no doubt be happier and won’t be a menace to the public any more.

  4. That’s funny. I just saw another empty turnip truck go by.
    What you fail to understand FG is that unlike in the private sector, for governments there are no natural restraints on spending nor on pursuing idiotic doomed to fail, counterproductive ideas. It’s a source of breathtaking wonderment to me to behold creatures who never question their cherished belief that there’s a direct relationship between the amount of money our government spends and the amount of benefit the public receives.
    Proposition 13 is not the boogeyman.

    And yes, David S. Wall. Johnny Khamis should make a good successor to Mike Wasserman who currently is #1 in the Sanest Supervisor rankings.

  5. The Usuals (the venal as well as overflowing with envy and resentment) hate Prop. 13, and post comments most of the time about residential taxes, not commercial taxes (the current incremental or camel’s-nose strategy to get rid of it).

    Grown-ups insist on strict tax limits and controls if Prop. 13 ever were abolished.

    There’s also the intelligent as well as moral need to end taxes on valuation and go to square footage, to be much more objective, but the Usuals, with their applicable characteristics identified above in particular, are the vanguard of insisting taxes remain based on valuation, if the question arises.

  6. John Galt,

    Your “ the Sanest Supervisor rankings” comment is very funny. I would say, “ The Sanest Supervisor Sweepstakes.” And from where I sit, it looks like a five-way tie for last.

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