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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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BOE Member George Runner

Many Online Sellers Don’t Have to Collect Sales Tax

There’s been considerable confusion surrounding California’s new online sales tax law (AB 155), and Cyber Monday was no exception.

Some media reports have suggested that all online sellers must now collect California sales tax. That’s a gross overstatement that creates needless confusion for both taxpayers and consumers.

Even under this new law most major out-of-state online retailers, like L.L. Bean and Overstock.com, are not required to collect sales tax as long as they don’t have a presence in California.

The new law, which became effective September 15, requires out-of-state sellers to collect tax if they make more than $1 million in annual sales to California consumers and at least $10,000 of those sales come through referrals from California-based affiliates.

Earlier this year the Board of Equalization mailed letters to more than 200 out-of-state retailers notifying them of the new law. To date, only a handful have responded by beginning to collect sales tax.

When out-of-state retailers do not collect tax, California consumers are still required to… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Gas Tax Revenues Set New Record

It’s bad enough that California’s gas tax is among the highest in the nation. It’s even worse that the gas tax goes up whenever gas prices rise.

Today I released data showing that high gas prices have resulted in a record windfall for government at the expense of California consumers.

California motorists paid a record $8.3 billion in state and local fuel taxes during the 2011-12 fiscal year.

From July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, the California State Board of Equalization collected $6.9 billion in motor vehicle fuel taxes, up from $6.7 billion the prior year. Excise tax revenues accounted for $5.2 billion, while sales tax revenues accounted for $1.7 billion.

Over the same time period, the state collected $1.4 billion in diesel fuel taxes, up from $1.2 billion the prior year. Excise tax revenues accounted for $343 million, while sales tax revenues accounted for $1.1 billion.

Read More

BOE Member George Runner

New Study Shows Californians Overtaxed

By every measure Californians are overtaxed. The latest proof comes from a Tax Foundation report showing that the average Californian’s tax burden worsened in 2010.

At a time when Californians could least afford it, our state and local tax burden was among the highest in the nation.

The Tax Foundation’s Annual State-Local Tax Burden Ranking estimates the average total tax burden for residents of each state. This method takes the point of view of the individual taxpayer, counting all taxes he or she pays, no matter to which state they are paid.

According to the report, Californians paid 11.2% of their income in state and local taxes in 2010—the fourth highest tax burden of any state. Only residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut paid more.

In 2010 the average California resident earned $43,919 but paid $4,934 in state and local taxes—$3,953 to state and local government in California and $981 to governments in other states.

Next year’s report may show some progress given the July 1, 2011 expiration… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Sales Tax Revenue on Track

It’s too early to know for sure, but so far sales tax revenue this year appears to be largely on track to meet the state’s budget needs.

The latest general fund sales and use tax revenue numbers show that from July through September the State Board of Equalization received $4.64 billion in revenue. That’s just two and a half percent shy of the Department of Finance’s budget projection of $4.76 billion.

Of course, I can’t help but think that if more Californians had jobs, these revenue numbers would be even stronger.

The latest numbers do not reflect the recent spike in gas prices. And those high fuel prices have the potential to create a tax windfall for state and local government.

Earlier this year I proposed legislation capping rising fuel taxes. Unfortunately, it failed to gain traction in the Legislature.

We don’t know yet how much revenue will come in this month. But we do know one thing for sure: Californians will pay plenty in tax.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

I Applaud the Howard Jarvis Fire Tax Lawsuit

Today, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a class action lawsuit against Jerry Brown and the Legislature to overturn the unconstitutional Fire Tax.

As one of California’s elected tax officials, it’s my responsibility to use my elected office to ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly.

Accordingly, I commend the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for bringing together Californians from every walk of life and region of our state to right the wrong that is the fire tax.

The Governor and Legislature’s willingness to impose such an unfair and regressive tax in direct violation of the Constitution should serve as a wake-up call for all freedom-loving Californians.

I am pleased to lend my full support to this lawsuit, and I look forward to seeing it prevail.… Read More

Tab Berg

If you think releasing felons makes CA safer – you might be a Legislator.

A recent editorial in the Sacramento Bee by former Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg’s concluded that AB 109 “prisoner realignment” has worked – a clear demonstration of just how far out of touch Capital politicians have become.

It’s a fairly typical response from the State: duck problems until they reach catastrophic levels, then use gimmicks to hide from the problem for a few more years, then shift the problem to future generations or local government to solve. This is usually followed by legislation on appropriate jail attire and creation of a new regulatory bureaucracy on how to prepare hotdogs.

Guess what Jackie? Realignment not a solution – it’s disgraceful. It’s no wonder the public holds the Legislature in such low esteem.

First, let’s be honest about what AB 109 was: it was not “an attempt to overhaul and redirect the prison system.” It was an admission that the state failed in its responsibility to manage prisons, and lacking the political guts to make… Read More

Ron Nehring

GOP Victories in House Special Elections Shows Democrat Problems with Key Constituencies

Republicans scored twin victories in two closely watched House special elections last night, signaling ongoing problems for the Democrats in regions essential for their success in any national election.

By far the biggest upset was in New York’s 9th district, a heavily Democratic New York City seat with the highest percentage of Jewish voters in America. Predictably, President Obama’s policies toward Israel took center stage in this fight and the resulting victory for political novice Republican Bob Turner over incumbent Democrat Assemblyman David Weprin demonstrates the biggest potential shift in a major Democratic voter block in recent memory.

When I was growing up on Long Island (my parents immigrated and settled with other families just outside of New York City), Democrat Mayor Ed Koch was an outspoken icon of liberalism. Yet, his endorsement of Republican Turner over Democrat Weprin in this special election crystalized the problem which President Obama’s Israel policy has created for his party. It’s not just Republican Jews who are upset, but Democrats and independents as well.

The… Read More

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