Thursday, October 8, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger's Finance Director Speaks at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce About California Tax Reform

Your BOMA San Francisco Advocacy Team attended a meeting held by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce yesterday to listen to Mike Genest, Governor Schwarzenegger's Finance Director, talk about the recent recommendations from the Commission on the 21st Century Economy on proposals to reform California's tax system.

The Commission's recommendations are as follows:
  • Establish a business net receipts tax (BNRT) – Establish a new tax, not to exceed 4 percent, 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.
  • 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 percent for taxable income up to $56,000 for joint filers ($28,000 for single) and 6.5 percent 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 percent.
  • Eliminate the corporation tax and minimum tax – Eliminate the corporate tax, which is currently at 8.84 percent. The $800 minimum franchise tax should also be eliminated.
  • Eliminate the state general purpose sales tax – Eliminate the current 5 percent 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.
  • 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 percent of revenues to 12.5 percent and restrict the government's ability to use reserve assets so that the reserve is available to help fund services during recessionary periods.
These recommendations are of a statutory nature (with the exception of the strengthening of the Rainy Day Reserve Fund, which will require a change to the State Constitution or state ballot initiative), which means they may be made effective upon passage by a majority of the State Legislature and signature by the Governor.

You can read the full report here.

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