On Nov. 3, 2003 the Wall Street Journal published a letter from Warren Buffett in which the Nebraska billionaire explained his negative view of California's Proposition 13, the 1978 law that limits property tax assessments to the original sale price, with a maximum 2 percent yearly increase:
“Commercial Residential property taxes in California are wildly capricious, tied as they are to the date of purchase rather than the value of the property or financial circumstances of the owner,” Buffett wrote. “My sympathies are clearly with the “non-billionaire” family purchasing a $300,000 house in Chico today that faces real estate taxes materially higher than those borne by this non-resident billionaire on his $4 million house in Laguna. This family, because of Proposition 13, has been selected to subsidize me.”
On May 5 the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a leftist political pamphlet, weighed in with a different view of the 1978 measure in an unsigned editorial supporting Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's AB 2492, which would preserve Prop 13's tax breaks to residential property owners, while eliminating certain breaks for owners of commercial property.
“Millions of homeowners love their low taxes, and even the liberals among them are dubious about giving up their cherished perk,” said the editorial, before going on to suggest Prop. 13's homeowner tax breaks aren't nearly as bad as Buffett makes them out to be.