California Homeowners Could Get Tax Break for Capturing Backyard Rainwater

It was raining and Judy Adler had a broken gutter. What could have been a simple repair turned into an effort to capture rain and use it for her backyard pond. Since late 2009, Adler has collected up to 11,000 gallons of rain annually at her Walnut Creek home.“This is doable,” she said. “This is Tinker Toy stuff.”

More people could follow in Adler’s steps under a bill in the California Legislature. The proposal, which would encourage homeowners to collect rainwater, could make its way onto the 2018 statewide ballot.

New construction, renovation, new ownership and some purchases for a home require a property tax reassessment, which typically increases a tax bill. A proposal from state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), SCA 9, would exclude rainwater capture systems from property tax reassessments starting in 2019.

California homeowners could see savings up to a couple hundred dollars a year off their property tax bill, depending on the type of capture system they install, Glazer’s office said.

Glazer said it’s a way to offer homeowners an incentive to conserve water and prepare for the dry season.

“It’s not an invisible occurrence when the rain comes to see water you could utilize at your home disappearing down the gutters,” he said.

Additions and improvements such as solar capture systems, certain types of seismic retrofits, fire sprinklers and modifications for disability access are already exempt from new construction classification under state law.