The $65.2 billion per year in various California income tax credits, deductions, exemptions, and exclusions, is now being targeted under the guise of “transparency and accountability.”
Senate Bill 468 by Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), would not only seek to repeal these tax credits, it would create a new bureaucracy performing functions currently performed by a number of existing agencies.
Jackson says, “California has nearly 80 tax expenditures. These are provisions in the tax code – including tax credits, tax deductions, sales tax exemptions and income exclusions – that reduce the amount of tax collected in exchange for an intended public policy objective.”
The goal is more tax “revenue” into state coffers, even if that means repealing existing tax credits.
The California Teachers Association, in support of SB 468, said, “California has spent over $66.6 billion on the top ten most costly tax credits and exemptions in the past decade. Every dollar of a tax credit to the General Fund that does not generate its cost in new revenue takes approximately 40 cents out of California’s classrooms, representing the share of revenues that would have gone to Proposition 98 from the General Fund.”
The stated intent of the bill is to promote government accountability, however the bill would create another, costly bureaucracy, through the creation of the California Tax Expenditure Review Board, in an effort to repeal tax credits. As the California Taxpayers Association noted in their opposition, “Both the LAO and the State Auditor can initiate studies under their own authority or at the specific direction of the Legislature.” These agencies often independently analyze and make recommendations to the Legislature – without legislation directing them to do so.
Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) said he was having “buyer’s remorse” on the bill. Moorlach said going after 1031 exchanges to defer paying capital gains taxes on an investment property when it is sold, and ESOP employee benefit plans, should be reconsidered. “I hope another effort comes back instead of this,” Moorlach said.
“More recently, the State Auditor conducted an assessment of several of the state’s primary tax expenditures and recommended improvements to some, while noting that others appear to be achieving their objects,” Cal Tax said. “To provide a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of state revenue impacts, we suggest that any tax expenditure study incorporate ‘multipliers’ and their effects on the economy. Additionally, we believe it is critical to examine California’s policies in the context of competitiveness with other areas of the country.”
SB 468 passed the Senate on party lines.