California voters could decide in 2020 whether they want a state-level estate tax that would raise as much as $1 billion a year.

Sen. Scott Wiener (D) introduced a bill March 26 to place the question on the ballot, which would be necessary to overturn a 1982 measure prohibiting California estate taxes.

  • The California tax would be modeled on the 40 percent federal estate tax with the same exemptions, such as transfers to surviving spouses. Lower exemption rates of $3.5 million for individuals or $7 million for married couples would apply.
  • Revenue would go to a new Children’s Wealth and Opportunity Building Fund to address income inequality and help low-income children build savings accounts.
  • S.B. 378 will likely have its first committee hearing in April. If the legislature passes it and voters approve the ballot measure, the tax would take effect Jan. 1, 2021.