Once again it is fire season in California, and unfortunately the Rim Fire near Yosemite is burning uncontained. As we watch the news or see the smoke gathering on the horizon, it is important to remember the individuals who are running towards those fires, rather than away. California’s firefighters put their own safety on the line to protect our lives and our homes. Currently, there are more than 2,000 firefighters in Tuolumne County battling the Rim Fire.
These brave men and women are in my thoughts and prayers.
- George Runner
Taxpayers Speak Out Against Unjust Fire Tax
For the second time in as many years, the State of California is mailing hundreds of thousands of fire tax bills to rural Californians who live in the so-called State Responsibility Area. The bills are hitting mailboxes even as the class action lawsuit I’m backing has finally received a green light to move forward.
As Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association is fond of saying, “the wheels of justice grind slowly.” Although I believe the lawsuit against the fire tax will ultimately prevail, it appears the trial won’t be until next year at the earliest.
Delayed justice means that hundreds of thousands of rural Californians, whether they can afford it or not, must write another check for up to $150 per habitable structure to the State of California to pay this unfair and unjust tax.
On Wednesday, August 28 at 6:00 p.m. and Tuesday, September 17 at 6:00 p.m. I will be holding two additional telephone townhalls about the confusing and controversial Fire Prevention Fee. These will be the last in a series of regional telephone townhalls I have held for taxpayers throughout my District.
The first townhall will be for residents of Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera and Tulare counties. The September 17 event will be held for residents of Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.
These townhalls are co-sponsored by State Senators Tom Berryhill, Anthony Cannella and Steve Knight, and Assemblymembers Connie Conway, Frank Bigelow, Kristin Olsen, Shannon Grove, Jim Patterson and Scott Wilk. During the calls we will discuss the latest fire “fee” news, including the lawsuit and pending legislation, and answer questions from callers.
Members of the public who would like to participate should register at least 24 hours in advance by visiting boe.ca.gov/townhall or by calling (916) 445-3032 for the August 28 event or (916) 324-4970 for the September 17 event. Taxpayers who pre-register will receive a telephone call at the start of the event inviting them to connect to the townhall.
I know many individuals share my concern about the fairness and cost of this tax. These townhalls are an important way to connect with my constituents, answer their questions, provide information and discuss issues and problems with the fee. I hope you can join us!
Fewer Elected Officials Could Cost Taxpayers More
In a recent piece published online at Fox & Hounds Daily, Joel Fox reminds us of the 1996 Constitutional Revision Commission, on which he served.
He recalls the Commission’s recommendation to eliminate a number of California’s elected offices, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner, the Treasurer and the State Board of Equalization. In the Commission’s plan, most of these positions would still exist, but the Governor rather than voters would choose who serves in them.
One might assume fewer elected officials would translated into significant savings for taxpayers. In some instances that may be the case.
But when it comes to taxes, and who we trust to administer them, Joel is 100% correct. It is imperative that whoever oversees California’s numerous tax and fee programs be directly accountable to voters.
The three letters, I, R and S, should prove my case.
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Calaveras County Taxpayer Association President Al Segalla on his new show Taxpayer Alert to discuss the role of the Board of Equalization, the latest news on the Fire Fee and the importance of being commited to taxpayer rights. Click below to check out the interview.
Q - What types of records must my business retain?
A - If you hold a California seller's permit, you are required to maintain business records to verify that you have properly paid tax. You should keep all records required to determine your correct sales and use tax liability, including normal books of account that show your business income and expenses; documents of original entry, such as invoices, receipts, job orders, purchase orders, contracts, or other documents used as the basis for your books of account; and all schedules or working papers used in preparing your sales and use tax returns.
You can learn more about BOE’s record requirements by reading Publication 116.