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Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

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Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
Founded1978; 46 years ago (1978)
FounderHoward Jarvis
Focus1978 California Proposition 13
1996 California Proposition 218
Property tax
Fiscal Conservatism
Area served
AffiliationsHoward Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation[3]
$5.9 million (2015)[1]
Expenses$5.7 million (2015)[1]
Formerly called
California Tax Reduction Movement

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is a California-based nonprofit lobbying and policy organization that advocates for Proposition 13 and Proposition 218. Officially nonpartisan,[4] the organization also advocates against raising taxes in California.[5]



Following the passage of Proposition 13 in June 1978, anti-tax activist Howard Jarvis founded an organization called the California Tax Reduction Movement. The goals of this organization were to protect Proposition 13 and further the "taxpayer revolt."[6] Upon Jarvis's death in 1986, his former personal assistant, Joel Fox, took over as the organization's head, formally incorporating and changing its name to Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.[7]



The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is known for its strong support of Proposition 13,[8] which was approved by California voters in June 1978. Proposition 13 significantly limited real property tax increases for California homeowners and businesses.

The association opposes taxes on California persons and businesses. Its motto, "Dedicated to protecting Proposition 13 and promoting taxpayers' rights", expresses its primary mission of defending Proposition 13. It mobilizes its members to support or oppose legislation, including ballot initiatives. It also endorses candidates in California elections and, through its separate campaign committees, is a source of campaign funds for the elections of candidates and ballot measures in California.

California Commentary


Starting in 2003, the association began distributing a weekly opinion piece known as California Commentary.[9]

Joel Fox Presidency


Joel Fox, who had been a senior aide to Howard Jarvis, was the first president of the association, and served until the end of 1998.[10] Joel Fox led the association into what observers have described as one of the most politically powerful organizations in California.[11]

Notable events


Notable events during Joel Fox's presidency include:


Fox guided the association against a successful legal challenge to Proposition 13 that landed before the United States Supreme Court. The case, known as Nordlinger v. Hahn, involved the issue of whether Proposition 13's reassessment scheme violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. On June 18, 1992, the court held that Proposition 13's acquisition-value assessment scheme does not violate the federal Equal Protection Clause.[12]

When the court agreed to hear the Nordlinger case, Fox said the case was "life or death for Proposition 13." Fox also said:

We will prove once and for all time that Proposition 13 is constitutional. We will show the court that Proposition 13 is sound policy benefiting all California property owners. By basing property taxes on the ability to pay at the time of voluntary purchase, and guaranteeing certainty as to what taxes will be in the future, Proposition 13 protects taxpayers from losing their homes to the tax collector. These benefits are available equally to all property owners.[13]

Proposition 218 (1996)


In 1996, Fox led Proposition 218 ("Right To Vote On Taxes Act"), sponsored by the association, as a constitutional follow-up to Proposition 13. During the November 1996 election, California voters approved the Proposition 218 initiative constitutional amendment.

Proposition 218 established constitutional limits on the ability of local governments to levy benefit assessments on real property and property-related fees and charges.[14] Proposition 218 also requires voter approval before a local government can impose, increase, or extend any local tax.[15] Proposition 218 also constitutionally reserves to local voters the right to use the initiative power to reduce or repeal any local tax, assessment, fee or charge.[16]

The Proposition 218 constitutional amendment is the only successful statewide ballot initiative sponsored by the association since its formation in 1989.

Jon Coupal Presidency


Jon Coupal, who had been Director of Legal Affairs for the association from 1991 to 1998, is its second and current president, having assumed the office at the beginning of 1999.[17]

Jon Coupal writes a column on California issues every Sunday in the Opinion section on the Southern California News Group's eleven newspapers and websites.


  1. ^ a b c "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax" (PDF). Foundation Center. 2015.
  2. ^ HJTA Contact
  3. ^ "Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation". id.loc.gov. LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies (Library of Congress). Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  4. ^ "PAC/Committees".
  5. ^ RAINEY, JAMES (14 February 2001). "Anti-Tax Group Backs Wachs for L.A. Mayor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  6. ^ Fox, Joel (2003). The Legend of Proposition 13. p. 53.
  7. ^ Smith, Daniel A. (December 2004). "Peeling Away the Populist Rhetoric: Toward a Taxonomy of Anti-Tax Ballot Initiatives". Public Budgeting & Finance. 24 (4): 88–110. doi:10.1111/j.0275-1100.2004.00349.x. ISSN 0275-1100. S2CID 153814879. – via Wiley Online Library (Subscription required.)
  8. ^ "Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association Website". Archived from the original on 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  9. ^ Richmond & Farrell (2015). "Traversable Wormholes and the Theoretical Feasibility of Intergalactic Distribution of HJTA California Commentary". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Fox, Joel (2003). The Legend of Proposition 13. p. 12.
  11. ^ "Fox Says He Will Step Down Jan. 1, Coupal to Take Charge at Jarvis Taxpayers Group". Metropolitan News Enterprise. December 15, 1998. p. 9.
  12. ^ Nordlinger v. Hahn, 505 U.S. 1 (1992).
  13. ^ Fox, Joel (2003). The Legend of Proposition 13. p. 183.
  14. ^ Cal. Const., art. XIII D.
  15. ^ Cal. Const., art. XIII C, § 2.
  16. ^ Cal. Const., art. XIII C, § 3.
  17. ^ Marois, Michael (December 16, 1998). "Jonathan Coupal to Head Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Group". The Bond Buyer. p. 30.