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Owners of Old Homes: Lower Your Property Taxes with the Mills Act

If you own a historic home, or are thinking of buying one, you will want to know about the Mills Act. The Mills Act, named after California State Senator James Mills, is State legislation, which provides incentive to restore and maintain your historic home, and has been adopted by the cities of San Diego, Escondido, La Mesa, Coronado, and most recently the city of Chula Vista. It is a 10-year renewable contract that can lower your property taxes by 50% or more.

  • You do not have to live in a historic district, however, your home must be locally designated to qualify for this program. You can do the research and designation yourself, or hire a historian. If you do live in a historic district, your home probably already qualifies. Getting your home designated is the first step to qualifying for the Mills Act.
  • The Mills Act property tax reduction is based on a formula the County Assessor's Office uses to calculate the tax savings. It is not based on your income. Multi-unit buildings and commercial buildings may also qualify for this savings.
  • Once you enter into a Mills Act contract, you agree to restore and maintain your home's exterior. Your tax savings should be used to help with the restoration and maintenance costs.
  • If you should sell your home, the Mills Act contract stays with the house and the new owners can get the same benefits if they agree to the preservation terms. This is a strong selling tool.

For more information, call your local planning department. Lobby your elected officials if your city has not yet adopted the Mills Act.

Our next Mills Act Workshop is scheduled for January 2002. This should give you sufficient opportunity to research and designate your home prior to the workshop in order to use it to your fullest advantage.

2001 - Volume 32, Issue 2

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