Q & A Regarding Borikas Decision
Monday, January 7th, 2013 - Posted in District Communications
The recent Appellate Court decision Borikas vs. Alameda Unified School District has raised many questions about the structure of school parcel taxes in the State of California.
Per our attorney, Mark Williams, following are the answers to the questions asked:
Q. Does Borikas allow a school district to establish tax rates that depend on the size, by square foot, of a residence or other structure?
A. No. The Borikas case addressed a tax that set differing rates for business and residential properties, and different rates among commercial parcels based on square footage. The Court noted that the statute allowing school parcel taxes does not permit variances in tax rates based on the use or size of a parcel. We do not believe a tax rate based on the size of a structure on a parcel would be found to be legal.
Q. May a school district define a senior citizen as a person with a minimum age other than 65?
A. No. Section 50079, which establishes the school parcel tax, specifically defines a senor citizen as someone who is 65 years of age or older.
Q. May a District partially exempt a senior citizen form the tax as opposed to a full exemption?
A. There is no definitive answer to this question, but we believe the answer to be “no”. A partial exemption would, in reality, mean a different tax rate for seniors. We do not see any authority for a differential rate in the statute or in Borikas. The District would be at risk of a court finding that all parcels may be assessed no more than the rate charged seniors.