The revolutionary idea of a new kind of nation, built on freedom and limited taxation, has been a beacon to the world for 237 years. As we gather with family and friends to celebrate our nation's birth, let's take time to reflect on the contributions of our founding fathers, as well as those who have kept the torch of liberty lit since then. Let's also resolve to do our part to keep that torch burning for the next generation.
Best wishes for a Happy 4th! - GEORGE RUNNER
Gas Tax Hike Based on Guesswork
Despite my 'no' vote and objections, a 3.5 cent per gallon increase in California’s excise tax on gasoline took effect July 1. As a result Californians are now forced to begin paying the highest gas tax in the nation.
You have a right to be angry and demand explanation from your elected officials.
I too am upset and frustrated by this tax increase, which stems from a complicated law known as the ‘fuel tax swap.’
The goal of the fuel tax swap wasn’t good tax policy. Instead, its sole purpose was to allow the Legislature to move more than a billion dollars in gas tax revenues into the state’s General Fund.
I voted against the fuel tax swap. I also voted against the 3.5 cent per gallon rate increase that took effect July 1.
Although the Board of Equalization must implement the law as written, a certain amount of discretion comes into play. Most of the July 1 increase is based on uncertain projections of future gas prices.
I don’t think we should be in the business of raising taxes based on guesswork.
It shouldn't be a difficult question, and yet, with more than 170 district tax rates in California, determining the correct sales or use tax rate can be confusing for both consumers and retailers.
In most cases the tax rate is applied based on the location where the store is located. If the item is purchased online, via phone or catalogue, retailers often collect the tax based on the location where the product is shipped, which can be a challenging proposition.
Given that the Board of Equalization only provides rates by city and county, rather than by address, problems can arise for some taxpayers.
For instance, an individual who lives at an address in an unincorporated portion of a county (e.g. Sacramento), may appear to live in the city (e.g. Sacramento), even though he or she lives outside city limits. When the city rate is higher than the county rate, these consumers may be incorrectly charged the higher rate and have difficulty obtaining a refund.
(Note: BOE's website has at times included a link to GeoTax.com, which does allow you to determine a tax rate for any address in the state. However, since we do not maintain this website, we cannot be responsible for its content or accuracy.)
In order to address this problem and provide both consumers and retailers more reliable or precise information, my office is working with the Board’s tax policy section, technology services division and Cal-Atlas, the state’s GIS clearinghouse.
GIS stands for geographic information systems, and is a way of storing data by locations. By geocoding tax rates to each address location in the state, we hope to provide consumers and retailers the tools necessary to look up tax rates by address, not just the city or county. Our hope is to launch the first phase of this project this fall and then continue to look at additional ways we can harness GIS technology to simplify tax administration for both retailers and consumers.
Fire Fee Telephone Townhalls
I'll be holding two telephone townhalls in July regarding the confusing and controversial Fire Prevention Fee. The first townhall, on Monday, July 15 at 6 p.m., will be for residents of Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Siskiyou, Shasta, and Tehama counties. A week later, on Tuesday July 23 at 6 p.m., a second event will be held for residents of Placer, Sierra, Nevada, and Yuba counties.
These upcoming townhalls are co-sponsored by State Senators Ted Gaines and Jim Nielsen and Assemblymembers Brian Dahle and Dan Logue. They are 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 at least 24 hours before the event at boe.ca.gov/townhall or by calling one of the phone numbers listed below:
July 15th Event Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Siskiyou, Shasta, and Tehama counties. Register at online at boe.ca.gov/townhall or by calling (916) 445-3032.
July 23rd Event Placer, Sierra, Nevada, and Yuba counties. Register at online at boe.ca.gov/townhall or by calling (916) 324-4970.
Taxpayers who pre-register will receive a telephone call at the start of the event inviting them to connect to the townhall.
Q - What happens if I can’t pay an outstanding tax liability?
A – BOE staff are available to work with you to resolve your tax or fee problem, but it is important to contact them right away if you are having problems paying what you owe. You may be eligible for an installment payment agreement or our Offer in Compromise Program.
You can learn more about BOE's tax collection procedures and payment options by reading Publication 54.