Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Diane Dixon: ACA 1 will chip away at critical taxpayer protections in California

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California’s legislative supermajority is moving closer to making it easier for local governments to approve bonds and special taxes for affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, and public infrastructure projects, with every Californian footing the bill. The tax burden on small to midsize businesses across the state is onerous enough, and with mounting inflation, the cost of living and doing business is even more difficult.

This amendment is a direct attack on Prop 13 and is a means of circumventing it without outright repealing it. The effects of enacting ACA 1 will further chip away at the property tax protections that our state has enshrined since 1978.

ACA 1 would lower the threshold on the percentage of votes needed to raise special taxes from the current two-thirds to only 55%. Proposition 13 mandates a two-thirds vote requirement for all special taxes, but ACA 1 would wipe out that protection for nearly all local taxes because the category of “infrastructure” covers almost anything.

Proponents of this measure will argue that this isn’t a tax increase, just a question for the voters. But we all know they wouldn’t put this on the ballot if they didn’t want it to pass so that the tax increases they seek would be much easier to raise.

In recent years, Californians have moved to other states with a more reasonable cost of living and tax burden on its residents. If Prop 13 is slowly gutted as intended with ACA 1, you can guarantee that exodus will grow tenfold.

On its face, ACA 1 does not overturn Prop 13, as its supporters know an outright repeal would lead to mass panic and outrage from homeowners from across the state. Instead, ACA 1 is a subtle way to eliminate Prop 13 by slowly chipping away at its protections without attracting the negative attention that an outright repeal would, making the 1978 legislation all but a shell.

Homeowners won’t be the only ones feeling the sting from the increase in property taxes. Apartment renters and small businesses that rent office or storefront spaces will also experience the effects of this, as the property tax burden on landlords will carry over in the form of rent increases to offset the overhead costs. The consequences of this measure will affect everyone.

As inflation continues to hurt Californians, and they are more cautious with their spending, another tax burden would only add salt to the wound.

Last April, a Berkeley IGS poll showed that nearly two-thirds of Californians say that their state and federal taxes are too high. Now, we’re looking at increasing the burden on their local sales and property taxes.

With our current tax burden on middle-class Californians, inflationary crisis, and high cost of living, ACA 1 couldn’t come at a worse time. I implore my Assembly and Senate colleagues to reject this measure.

Diane Dixon represents the 72nd Assembly District.

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