As your taxpayer advocate and elected member of the California State Board of Equalization, I'm fighting to protect your rights and bring about fair tax policies that help grow our economy and jobs. As always, I welcome your ideas about how we can work together to solve the problems facing our state.
- GEORGE RUNNER
Tax Freedom Day Delayed Again
Higher taxes mean a real loss of freedom. It’s no wonder people are leaving our state.
Like it or not, Californians were forced to work 114 days this year to pay federal, state and local taxes—that’s four more days than last year.
Although the average American celebrated Tax Freedom Day on April 18, Californians had to wait nearly a week longer—until April 24—to join the celebration.
Tax Freedom Day, calculated annually by the Tax Foundation, is the day Americans have earned enough money to pay their annual tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. This year’s national Tax Freedom Day is five days later than last year.
California’s Tax Freedom Day was four days later than last year and eight days later than two years ago. Compared to other states, our Tax Freedom Day is now the sixth latest in the nation, up from eleventh last year. Only Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois have later dates.
As bad as California’s rank is this year, the Legislature seems intent on making it even worse. It’s churning out so many new taxes and fees it’s hard for the experts to keep up, let alone the average California taxpayer.
Although the Tax Foundation considered the impact of Propositions 30 and 39, its calculation does not include California’s fire “fee,” lumber tax, nor the Franchise Tax Board’s recent retroactive tax hike on small business investors.
I’ll be holding a teleconference townhall on Tuesday,May 7 at 6 p.m. regarding the confusing and controversial California Fire Prevention Fee.
Taxpayers in Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and El Dorado counties are specifically invited to participate in this teleconference event, but others are welcome to join the call as well.
As you may know, nearly 800,000 California property owners—about half of whom I represent—must pay the annual Fire Prevention Fee. The “fee” was enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011.
Many of my constituents have expressed concern about the fairness and cost of this new tax. As their elected taxpayer advocate, it’s important for me to hear their concerns and keep them apprised of the latest developments.
The May 7 tele-townhall is co-sponsored by State Senator Ted Gaines and Assemblymembers Frank Bigelow and Beth Gaines and is part of a series of regional townhalls I am holding for taxpayers in my district.
During the call, we’ll discuss the latest fire “fee” news, including the lawsuit and pending legislation, and answer questions from callers.
If you’d like to participate, please register by May 6 at boe.ca.gov/townhallor by calling (916) 445-3032.
Taxpayers who pre-register will receive a telephone call at the start of the event inviting them to connect to the townhall.
Legislation to Help Taxpayers
I’m sponsoring two legislative measures AB 833 (Harkey) & SB 582 (Knight) aimed at moving the state toward a single taxpayer web portal. Both measures passed their first legislative policy committee last week.
The bills would authorize the Board of Equalization, Franchise Tax Board and Employment Development Department to work together on creating a website with a single taxpayer login that would allow taxpayers to view their permits, make payments and apply for refunds from all three agencies.
The bills also direct the agencies to seek to consolidate forms, applications and documents whenever practical.
Another measure aimed at helping taxpayers, AB 698 (Grove), was held in committee. AB 698 would have amended current law to protect those who unknowingly purchase a business with an outstanding sales tax liability from being held responsible for their predecessor’s tax bill.
I’ve been working to diversify the Board’s approach to educating taxpayers and increasing voluntary compliance within the Second District.
Here’s an example: during the week of April 22-26, 2013, my District 2 outreach team was able to strengthen our relationship with the Sacramento region’s Latino community through our involvement in Financial Education Week.
The event, hosted by the Mexican Consulate and comprised of numerous non-profits, consulting firms, and the Board of Equalization, aimed to educate and inform Latino participants of the tools needed for financial compliance and success within the State of California. The volunteer BOE staff led by Siobhan Guiney consisted of Sabrina Calzada, Mayra Micciche, and Alicia Ruiz.
When asked about the week, Ruiz said, “When you have an aspiring business owner come to you in tears and thank you for coming to the Mexican Consulate, it makes it all worth it. As a Latino, I understand their apprehension with state government, and I was excited at the opportunity presented by Financial Education Week.”
Throughout the week, the team successfully registered more than twenty new business owners and educated hundreds of local residents on sales and use tax compliance in the State of California.
As required by the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, the Board of Equalization holds annual public hearings for business and property taxes to listen to your suggestions, comments, and concerns.
As always, I invite taxpayers to come share their ideas and concerns. But you should also know that there’s no need to wait for help. If you’re having problems dealing with a California tax agency, I encourage you to contact my office for help today by calling (916) 445-2181 or (661) 723-8469.
This year, the Bill of Rights hearings will be held at the locations listed below starting at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
State Board of Equalization 450 N Street, 1st Floor Board Room Sacramento
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Board of Equalization District Office 5901 Green Valley Circle, Suite 207 Culver City
As published by the Bakersfield Californian, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, LA Daily News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Pasadena Star News, San Bernardino Sun, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Santa Clarita Valley Signal, Ventura County Star, Victorville Daily Press, Rocklin Today, California Political News & Views and Fox & Hounds Daily
Last year California voters approved two tax increases aimed at bringing billions more dollars into state coffers. But that hasn’t stopped revenue-hungry lawmakers in the Legislature from seeking further tax hikes. It’s almost as if they think we can tax ourselves into prosperity. A recent example of this type of confused thinking is the oil severance tax. Like a bad penny, this tired old idea keeps turning up at the Capitol year after year, despite being rejected by voters in 2006. Read more...
Fire Fee 2.0: Six Times Worse?
As published by California Political Review, California Political News & Views, Fox & Hounds Daily, Noozhawk and Sierra Star
Better late than never, California lawmakers seem to be waking up to the reality that the illegal “Fire Prevention Fee” they enacted nearly two years ago is a complete fiasco. Even so, they are refusing to repeal it. Instead they are scheming up ways to replace the tax with yet another tax that’s even bigger than the first. Where else but Sacramento would someone think the answer to a bad tax is to replace it with one even worse? Read more...
Obama Steals Jerry Brown’s Playbook
As published by the FlashReport on California Politics, Fox & Hounds Daily, Noozhawk and Santa Clarita Valley Signal
Given California’s chronic problems, it’s hard to imagine anyone sees our state as a model—but it’s clear the Obama administration does. And to make matters worse, President Obama is now using schemes from California’s playbook in his bid to impose our failures on the rest of the nation. Read more...