(The Center Square) – In a Tax and Fee Report generated by the California Tax Foundation, it was revealed that, since the return of the Legislature on Jan. 4, California lawmakers had considered various bills that would raise annual taxes and fees by more than $185.6 billion.
The “report includes any measure that imposes, authorizes, or states the intent to impose or authorize higher taxes or tax- like ‘fees,’ as well as any legislation that increases a regulatory and/or license fee, user charge, or other charge for receiving a specific government service or benefit.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a state budget of $296.9 billion in January with a shortfall of $22.5 billion. This shortfall could climb by $7 billion, according to a February estimation made by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Considering the possibility of an almost $30 billion deficit, the state Legislature would feel compelled to pass increases in taxes and fees instead of budgetary cuts.
Altogether there are 37 tax and fee increase bills proposed. Six bills before the Legislature have known costs to taxpayers, and thirty-one additional bills without estimated cost to Californians.
It is predicted that Assembly Bill 1690, a universal health care program proposed by assembly member Ash Kalra, would be the most expensive for taxpayers. It would cost approximately $163 billion raised by imposing an increase in personal income tax, a gross receipts tax, and a payroll tax on employers and employees. The funding raised from the bill is not expected to cover the total amount it would cost to operate a government-run single-payer tax program, so additional means of raising revenue would be required. The bill was proposed on Feb. 17 and is expected to have its first hearing on March 20. Kalra also proposed AB 240, a tax on pet food manufacturers.
Assemblymember Alex Lee introduced on Jan. 19 AB 259/ACA 3, which requires a constitutional amendment by the Assembly. If enacted, the False Claims Act – better known as the Wealth Tax – would impose taxes on art, retirement funds, farms, stocks, real property, mutual and index funds and other assets. The tax would be imposed on California residents’ and former residents’ global net worth. AB 259 is expected to bring in $22.3 billion in tax revenues.
One of the more eye-catching taxes was the increase of the annual vehicle tax corresponding to the vehicle’s market value because it comes at a time when Newsom has made a policy to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, which come with a hefty price tag.
Other bills include a driving school certificate fee expected to raise $1 million in revenues; a levy on avocado oil producers; a levy on producers and handlers of commercial tomatoes; a levy on airport vehicle rental facilities; a fee to operate as an athletic trainer; a fee for the county seal on weights and measures; a tax on tickets to MMA events; a catering fee; a tax on pool chlorine; a permit fee for off-road vehicles; and various operating fees for interior designers.
California is already one of the highest tax states in the union. A Berkley IGS Poll taken last April expressed growing discontent with tax burdens felt by Californians, where pollsters found every two out of three voters thought federal and state taxes were too high.
“The findings indicate that many Californians are feeling pinched in today’s economy,” G. Cristina Mora, IGS Co-Director, said.