Will California’s Tax Proposal do any good?

California has always had a wild streak.  This week California’s new tax proposal reinforced that image.

The Commission on the New 21st Century Economy  issued its report this week on a radical new tax structure for California.  Like all political taxing plans it has its good and bad aspects.  It did, however, increase discussion about what California needs to do to become an attractive state for business and individuals.

Here are the recommendations of the Commission: (My comments are in red)

  • Reduce Personal Income Tax (PIT) for every taxpayer – Reduce the number of tax brackets from six to two. The new tax rate would be 2.75 percent for taxable income up to $56,000 for joint filers ($28,000 for single) and 6.5 percent for taxable income above that amount. These changes would retain the PIT’s progressive nature but reduce income tax rates for all taxpayers. The proposal would reduce the amount of income tax paid by 29 percent.  (This is Good)
  •  Eliminate the corporation tax and minimum tax – Eliminate the corporate tax, which is currently at 8.84 percent. The $800 minimum franchise tax should also be eliminated. (This is Good)
  •  Eliminate the state general purpose sales tax – Eliminate the current 5 percent state sales tax, with the exception of the sales tax on gas and diesel fuels which would continue to be dedicated to transportation. Elimination of the sales tax would phase in over five years. (This is Good)
  • Establish a business net receipts tax (BNRT) – Establish a new tax, not to exceed 4 percent, applied to the net receipts of businesses. Small businesses with less than $500,000 in gross annual receipts would be exempt from this tax. This tax would have a much broader base than the sales tax (since it would apply not only to goods but also to services and to sales into the state from businesses located outside the state) and, unlike the sales tax, be deductible against federal taxes. (This is very very Bad)
  •  Create an independent tax dispute forum – This forum would provide taxpayers with a forum for resolving disputes with the state. (This is Good)

I have discussed previously why California is a Worst State.  It over taxes, over regulates and is costly do business there.  See our previous post California Facts Suggest it is a Worst State

This proposal does not appear to fix these problems.  It just shuffles the burdens around a little by being according to the Commission “revenue neutral.”

“This is the most significant tax policy proposal in three decades,” said Assemblyman Chuck Devore (R-Irvine). “But the chances of this getting approved, as is, are zero percent.”  The LA Times reported the proposal is unlikely to pass.  See LA Times story Tax commission report falls flat, but it’s a start

With the U.S. in the midst of a severe job shrinkage, it is only a matter of time that some states and legislatures start getting serious about creating an environment conducive to job creation.  Cutting tax burdens and tax rates will be a strong first step in getting the job engine going.  California’s proposal unfortunately is not a step in the right direction. It will remain a Worst State for Taxes even if it passes the Commission’s recommendations.


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