Supporters of a split roll property tax smell opportunity in the federal tax bill. They are polling to see if the split roll can be advanced as an answer to tax deductibility changes under the proposed law.

The question of state and local tax deductions in the Republican tax bill is still being ironed out. However, early versions allowed for some deductibility of property taxes while shutting down income tax deductions.

California is a high income tax state not only with the highest tax rate of 13.3% but also with the 9.3% tax rate kicking in at $51,530 of taxable income. In order to offer tax relief to income tax payers who potentially lose deductions some officials are considering increasing the property tax, but that requires a change to Proposition 13.

A movement to split the tax roll between commercial and residential property has been attempting to build steam for some time. Supporters of the split roll believe blaming President Trump for upending the California tax system and causing increased taxes for those who deduct state and local taxes may open the door for pushing a split roll proposal with voters.

It is highly unlikely that such a Proposition 13 change would achieve the two-thirds vote necessary to make it through the legislature and get a place on the ballot. However, while late, it is still possible to try a ballot initiative for November 2018.

That’s why it was not surprising to hear reports that pollsters are busy taking the temperature of voters on a split roll idea.

Of course, the voters are told the familiar split roll arguments put forth by advocates: funding increases for schools and health care; businesses enjoying a tax “loophole”; somehow small business will be spared; when corporations are hit with a tax people will not feel it.

No need to debate those charges here. However, a new argument being tested is that the average Californian would be hit hardest by the federal tax plan proposed by President Trump.

Bringing Trump into the split roll effort is playing a new card in a state where he is not popular. Will such a strategy be enough to offset the tepid support a split roll has shown in previous polls?