Taxes add sting to loss of domestic partner

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Deadline nears for those seeking to roll back property reassessments
June 16, 2009


"Don Atkins shared his life with Ted Horzella for 37 years...But when Horzella died in 2005 at the age of 76, Atkins was shocked to learn his annual property tax bill would rise from $1,400 to $10,400.

"Atkins, 67, is among about a dozen homeowners in [Los Angeles County] who have applied for an exemption from property reassessment after the death of their partner or the breakup of the relationship. It's a benefit long enjoyed by married couples and extended to new domestic partners in 2006, six years after the state began registering them. But those who registered before that date must apply for reconsideration.

"'Nobody should lose their home or empty their bank account after having lost their other half,' said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel and Marriage Project director at Lambda Legal, which supported the legislation. 'The point is everybody should have the same options.'"