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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

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July Sales Tax Revenues Didn’t Plummet

Contrary to what you may have heard, the sky is not falling in California—at least not as it pertains to sales tax revenue. I’m pleased to report that sales and use tax revenues are doing just fine.

On August 13, the State Controller reported that sales and use tax general fund revenues for the month of July were down $295 million, 33.5% below expectations.

However, BOE actually received $1.527 billion in July, $17 million more than the Department of Finance budget projection.

The competing revenue numbers are the result of payment timing combined with differing accounting methods. As required by statute, the Controller looks at “money in the bank,” which does not include pending deposits. BOE numbers, as well as those used for state budget estimates, reflect “money in the door,” which includes all payments—including those received but not yet deposited.

BOE received more than $900 million in sales tax revenue in the final days of July. These dollars were not included in the Controller’s report because they had not yet been deposited into state coffers.

Retail sales tax… Read More

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No More Political Gimmicks, Let’s Fix the Deficit Problem

It’s budget week here in Washington.

That means we are debating the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. There are proposals and amendments and such.

I’ve linked a 5 minute video clip of a response I gave to another (sigh) proposal to “tax the rich more” to this post. I received a number of accolades on this speech, including many from Democrats. I hope you enjoy it.

By the way, the amendment was defeated.

Click HERE to watch my Budget Committee remarks.… Read More

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Sales Tax Hike Would Cost 23,000 Jobs

Today I released a dynamic analysis by the Board of Equalization showing that the Governor’s proposed sales tax increase will cost California jobs.

According to the analysis, a higher sales tax rate will take money out of the pockets of working Californians, destroying more than 23,000 jobs and $267 million in business investment.

These projected job losses are equivalent to every worker in a medium-sized California city like Glendora or West Sacramento losing their jobs.

When considering tax increases, policymakers often rely on static analyses that ignore behavioral changes by consumers and business owners. A dynamic analysis estimates the likely behavioral changes that could result from a higher tax rate.

The BOE analysis projects that nearly all of the proposed sales tax increase would be passed along to consumers. The state would receive $222 million less in revenues than projected by a static analysis, an 8% loss in potential revenue.

Since July of last year, lower tax rates have enabled Californians to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, and our economy is… Read More

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Amazon Compromise Both Good and Bad

I’m glad the Governor signed compromise legislation today to help get some California affiliates back to work and bring thousands of Amazon.com distribution jobs to California. That’s very good news.

Unfortunately, this legislation is by no means a cure-all. It does nothing to solve the long-term problems created by the Legislature’s botched efforts to compel out-of-state retailers to serve as California’s tax collectors.

Absent a federal solution, which is highly unlikely in such a short time frame given all of the competing interests, we’ll be right back in the same mess in a year. The State of California will again be killing California jobs, driving away investment and inviting costly litigation.

Let me be clear: this compromise legislation, while welcome, provides only a short-term delay to a bad law that will never produce the revenues, nor the level-playing field, its proponents imagine.… Read More

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Why I Support the Amazon Deal

AB 155, as proposed to be amended, will retroactively repeal the “Amazon Tax” for a year or longer, allowing time for impacted parties to seek a federal solution to the dispute.

This is far from a perfect plan, but politics is the art of compromise. It’s a good thing when competing interests are able to come together on a contentious issue.

The deal provides at least a one year reprieve for affiliate businesses whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the dispute. It allows time for impacted parties to seek a federal solution to this issue. Congress has always been the right venue for this conversation.

However, I’m disappointed that this deal provides no certainty for thousands of affiliates who partner with out-of-state online retailers other than Amazon. The uncertainty will discourage these companies from creating new jobs and investing in our state.

Furthermore, the Legislature refused to include a pathway to immediately bring Amazon jobs to California. I’ll be working with Amazon and legislators to find a way to expedite their presence in order to bring thousands of new jobs to our state as soon as possible.

Throughout the year… Read More

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Leaders Should Consider Amazon Jobs Proposal

I sent a letter to theGovernor and legislative leaders todayurging them to consider aproposal by Amazon.com that would bring an estimated 7,000 jobs to California. I also asked them to re-evaluate the projected budget revenue associated with the “Amazon Tax” (AB 28X).

Read my letter here.… Read More

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Governor Brown Shouldn’t Count on “Amazon Tax” Revenue

According to the Los Angeles Times, Governor Jerry Brown is “leaning against” a proposed deal to bring an estimated 7,000 Amazon.com jobs to California. The Governor is concerned that a deal would somehow cost the state revenue.

If the Governor truly believes the ‘Amazon Tax’ is going to generate millions in revenue for the state this year, he’s mistaken. Board of Equalization staff have determined that the projected $200 million in revenue will not materialize this year.

As of today we’re not aware of a single online retailer that has registered with BOE to collect sales tax because of AB 28X. According to Board of Equalization staff, the number of out-of-state registrations in July 2011 was actually lower than July 2010.

Additionally, should a referendum qualify for the ballot, the law would be suspended until a vote of the people in June or November of next year. That would mean the ‘Amazon Tax’ would be a guaranteed money loser this fiscal year, since terminated affiliates will pay… Read More

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