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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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BOE Member George Runner

Lower Sales Tax Rate Will Be Good for California

The statewide sales and use tax rate will decrease from 8.25 percent to 7.25 percent on July 1, 2011. This is great news for overtaxed Californians, who bear the sixth highest overall tax burden in the nation. A lower sales tax will help our state’s economy and help job creation.

There’s still time for a budget deal before July 1, but it’s already too late to extend the higher sales tax. According to a June 6 Board of Equalization letter, the minimum amount of time necessary to notify retailers of a sales tax rate change is 15 days.

In May 2011 the Board of Equalization notified approximately 680,000 California retailers and out-of-state businesses that make sales in California that the statewide sales and use tax rate will decrease from 8.25 percent to 7.25 percent on July 1, 2011.

Temporary taxes often have a way of sticking around—keep in mind that the 1991 ‘temporary’ 1.25% sales tax increase is still with us today! It will be good for California if this latest sale tax hike goes away and stays away,… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Governor Should Veto “Amazon Tax”

Today I called upon Governor Jerry Brown to veto the so-called “Amazon Tax” recently approved as a budget trailer bill by the Legislature. You can read my letter below or here.

June 17, 2011

Dear Governor Brown:

I am writing to request your veto of Assembly Bill 28X (Blumenfield), the so-called “Amazon Tax.”

As an elected member of the State Board of Equalization, the agency responsible for use tax collection, I am concerned that in its hunger for revenues the California Legislature is traveling down a legally suspect and dangerous path. Rather than educate California taxpayers on their use tax obligations when making purchases from out-of-state sellers, the Legislature is stretching the definition of nexus to the point of absurdity and to the detriment of California’s economy and jobs.

Proponents of AB 28X claim it will “create fairness” by “leveling the playing field” between brick and mortar retailers and online sellers and generate $200 million in new revenues for the state. But in reality the measure… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Interest and Penalties Holiday Would Help Struggling Taxpayers and State Coffers

Today I called upon the Governor and Legislature to enact a six month interest and penalty holiday to help struggling small business owners and other taxpayers who have fallen behind on tax payments during the recent economic downturn.

The state’s job is to collect taxes, not penalties and interest. Too often heavy penalties and punitive interest charges actually make it more difficult for struggling taxpayers to catch up on late payments. If we want more jobs, we need to help California’s job creators get back on their feet.

Instead of increasing taxes or cutting vital programs, we ought to learn from the experience of other states where these programs have successfully raised millions of dollars. I believe a California program would generate several billion dollars of revenues for state and local government.

A tax interest and penalty holiday would be a win-win for both California’s job creators and state coffers.

Below is the text of my letter.You can find mypress release here.

June 10,… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Debt Sale Could Help Close Budget Gap

The State of California is currently sitting on billions of dollars of uncollected debt that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars on private debt markets. Rather than raise taxes on the hardworking people of California, state leaders should sell off debt to raise the cash we need—just like private businesses do.

Selling aging debt is a common practice in the private sector and has also been used successfully by many local governments. Selling debt makes a lot more sense than selling buildings you have to turn around and lease back.

The sale of these assets could provide much-needed one-time cash. Combined with rising revenues, these dollars could help protect priority programs and eliminate the perceived need to impose higher taxes on struggling Californians.

Today I called upon the Governor and legislative leaders urging them to consider such a sale in their ongoing budget negotiations.

Below is the text of my letter.

—-

June 6, 2011

Dear Governor Brown and Legislative Leaders:

I am writing to suggest monetizing a portion of the billions of dollars in debt owed the State of California as a possible… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

‘Tax the Rich’ Code for Taxing Job Creators

Years of overtaxation and overregulation have given California the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. Even so some of our state lawmakers still believe that punishing success is a recipe for job growth.

Efforts by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and other Democrat legislators to increase taxes on high income earners will actually punish California job creators and worsen volatile state revenues.

According to the Tax Foundation, California already has the third highest income tax rate and one of the most progressive tax structures in the nation. The top one percent of California’s income earners have incomes of $500,000 or more per year and pay up to 50% of all income tax revenues received by the state each year, according to a report by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The battle cry to ‘tax the rich’ is really code for taxing California’s job creators, including many small businesses that are struggling to survive. Rather than help California’s budget, higher taxes will reduce revenues and drive even more job creators out of our state or out of business.

The Tax Foundation also… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Governor’s New Enterprise Zone Proposal Just as Bad

I have reviewed the Governor’s latest budget proposals related to Enterprise Zones, and they are as bad as the original proposal that would have eliminated the program altogether.

It’s Still a Tax Increase:

First of all, this would still impose a tax increase on thousands of California businesses that would be retroactive. Many of these businesses have survived thanks in large part to the Enterprise Zone program, and have kept their employees working in California during the economic recession.

High-Tech and Bio-Tech Industries Harmed:

The Governor’s limitations on tax credit carryovers would be particularly harmful to startup companies especially in the high-tech and bio-tech sectors that would be unable to utilize the Enterprise Zone tax credits.

Governor’s Enterprise Zone Plan Would Force Job Layoffs:

The small business community has reviewed the Governor’s plan and they are alarmed. A small printing firm in San Diego had this to say about it: “Thanks to Enterprise Zone tax credits, we were able to retain employees that we otherwise would have been forced to lay off… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Little to Cheer in Governor’s Revised Budget

Overtaxed Californians will find little to cheer in the Governor’s revised budget proposal.

Despite the Governor’s concession to postpone higher income taxes for a year, he continues to push for legislative approval of higher sales taxes and car taxes this year.

And although the Governor dropped his effort to abolish enterprise zones—and the jobs they create—he continues to miss the big picture: Californians need jobs, not higher taxes.

Our best hope for new revenues isn’t higher taxes, but new jobs fueled by a recovering economy. Unfortunately, the Governor has yet to truly lift a finger in the fight for California jobs.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Pro-Taxpayer Legislation Advances

A key Senate tax committee today voted 9-0 to advance legislation I am sponsoring to empower California’s tax agencies to better assist struggling taxpayers.

The bill will help California’s job creators who are survivors of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and give tax agencies the needed flexibility to deal fairly with taxpayers who are victims of California’s economy.

More specifically, Senate Bill 228 (Wyland) would permit the Board of Equalization, Franchise Tax Board and State Controller to “withdraw” a lien when a taxpayer pays an outstanding liability in full—removing the lien from the taxpayer’s credit record.

Under current law, when a taxpayer falls behind on payments, California’s tax agencies may place a lien on that taxpayer’s personal property.

Once a taxpayer pays the outstanding liability in full, California tax agencies may “release” the lien. However, the release does not remove the lien from a taxpayer’s credit record,… Read More

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