In addition to the work of the Utah Taxpayers Association, there are many other sister organizations in other states fighting for taxpayers. One standout, founded in 1926, is the California Taxpayers Association. Members of the Utah Taxpayers Association, founded in 1922, actually advised and aided the founding members of the California Taxpayers Association as they got started. To this day, both organizations work together and share ideas and information as we both fight for taxpayers.
Every year, CalTax publishes their Tax and Fee Report, which details all of the major taxes and fees that are proposed in the California Legislature. The 2022 report was just released, and it should make every single Utah taxpayer happy they don’t live there.
This year, the California Legislature has considered more than $194 billion in new taxes and fees, including a “wealth tax”, a variety of tax increases to fund a government-run healthcare program, a carbon tax, and a new tax on gains from property sales. The report tallies 64 different proposals, 51 of which can’t be quantified. The remaining 13 ideas total all $194 billion.
All of this is being considered despite the fact that the state has reserves of $37.1 billion and is projected to have a surplus of more than $97 billion by the end of the year. California is also expected to see an influx of $26 billion for COVID relief funding and an additional $16 billion for local governments from ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding. Rampant government spending is also not stopping in California, as the enacted and proposed budgets in recent years have gone from $200 billion to $227 billion and for next year, a projected $300 billion.
Probably the worst proposal that is being considered is ACA 11 (Kalra-D), which includes $162.8 billion in tax hikes, including a gross receipts tax on businesses, payroll taxes on California employers and employees, and a personal income tax hike on those with income above $149,509. A related measure to fund a single-payer government run healthcare program is alive and could be placed on the ballot. Apparently this elected official believes that if you make more than $149,509 a year you are not paying your fair share. This is why a fair and flat income tax rate – like Utah has – is the right policy. It prevents elected officials or government bureaucrats from having the power to decide who is “not paying their fair share” and sticking it to them with higher tax rates.
Another “head-scratcher” of an idea is AB 1253 (Santiago-D), a $6.5 billion tax hike which would raise the top personal income tax rate, already the highest in the nation, to 16.8%. By simply comparing that to Utah’s 4.85% or Nevada’s 0%, one can see why there are so many California license plates driving around Utah these days. If you couple that bill with AB 310 (Lee-D) , a $22.3 billion tax hike which would enact the first ever state level “wealth tax” by taxing unrealized gains and assets of art, collectibles, retirement funds, financial assets, farm assets (it’s not like we are in a food inflation crisis or anything, right?), and stocks and you can see why California is in the pickle that it is. Also, if you think you can move away and avoid the tax, they would still ding you with the tax for several years after you flee the state. If passed, these bills would only guarantee one thing – there would not be a single wealthy individual with any common sense that would stay in California and they would only see a fraction of any projected revenue from such a boneheaded idea.
Sadly, many of these bills are alive and well as the full time California Legislature continues to churn and burn their taxpayers through the entire year.
Thankfully, insane ideas like this would never make it in the Utah Legislature. At least for now. Residents and taxpayers cannot be blind to the fact that without a constant effort to elect and support legislators that are taxpayer friendly and possess conservative fiscal principles some of these crazy ideas will pop up soon in Utah- you can bet on it.