Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The California Commission on the 21st Century Economy has issued its final report, proposing dramatic changes in the state's tax structure:
- 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% for taxable income up to $56,000 for joint filers ($28,000 for single) and 6.5% 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%.
- Eliminate the corporation tax and minimum tax – Eliminate the corporate tax, which is currently at 8.84%. The $800 minimum franchise tax should also be eliminated.
- Eliminate the state general purpose sales tax – Eliminate the current 5% 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.
- Establish a business net receipts tax (BNRT) – Establish a new tax, not to exceed 4%, 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.
- Create an independent tax dispute forum – This forum would provide taxpayers with a forum for resolving disputes with the state.
- Strengthen the state’s Rainy Day Reserve Fund – Increase the target for the reserve from 5% of revenues to 12.5% and restrict the government's ability to use reserve assets so that the reserve is available to help fund services during recessionary periods.
Press and blogosphere coverage:
- Americans for Tax Reform, California's Special Tax Commission Proposes Significant Reform
- Associated Press, Schwarzenegger Wants Fast Action on Tax Overhaul
- Bloomberg, California Panel Eyes Income Tax Cut, New Company Tax
- Los Angeles Times, Schwarzenegger Seeks Overhaul of State Tax System
- Sacramento Bee, Q&A: How Schwarzenegger-Backed Tax Plan Would Affect Californians
- San Francisco Chronicle, Commissioner Proposes Dramatic State Tax Overhaul
- Tax.com: A California VAT: Sweeping Reform for a Troubled State, by Martin A. Sullivan
- Wall Street Journal editorial, A California Quake
- Wall Street Journal op-ed, How California Can Get Its Groove Back, by Michael J. Boskin & John F. Cogan (both of the Hoover Institution)