Patricia Suzanne | Don’t Fall for the False Tax Petition

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As you’re shopping for the holidays, you’re likely to encounter signature-gatherers at malls, farmers markets, grocery stores and the like, armed with various petitions. These individuals are paid to hustle unwary shoppers, and they’ll stick a clipboard under your nose without much knowledge of the initiatives they’re representing. 

Be careful! If those measures qualify for the ballot and pass, they could end up costing you big bucks. The bigger lie is the sign “advertising” this ruse for signatures will say “Proposition 13.” That is an intentional act to trick unknowing voters to think they are signing for Prop 13 to preserve it! 

One measure in particular has been titled and described in a purposefully misleading manner by our highly partisan Democrat State Attorney General Xavier Becerra. 

Actually, that’s part of his modus operandi. 

He’s titled it “The California Commercial and Industrial Property Tax for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative.” Yeah! Another appeal to citizens to bump up funds for education. But that’s terribly misleading. 

With enough signatures, this initiative would be put to a vote in November 2020. Its aim is to amend the state constitution to require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on their current market value. Absent from Becerra’s description is the fact that this would constitute the largest property tax increase in California history, estimated at $12.5 billion a year. (Is there EVER enough money for those crooks in Sacramento?)

Some folks use the term “split roll” property tax, because it splits taxpayers into two groups – homeowners and businesses. Residential properties would still be protected by Proposition 13, which limits the amount of increase each year on homes (although Sacramento is undoubtedly making plans to wipe out that protection next!), whereas the tax rate for businesses would be recalculated based on current market value every three years.

Make no mistake. If this measure passes, YOU, the consumer, will end up footing the bill, through price increases on everything — groceries, gasoline, clothes, utilities, dental work, you name it. Either that or California will likely lose even MORE employers to neighboring states. Literally thousands of businesses, big and small, have left already. 

To suit Becerra’s own partisan political agenda, he mentions three times in the 100-word summary that the measure would fund education and schools. Straight B.S. There are no such guarantees. And any tax dollars that DO make it to our school systems will likely be used for escalating pension costs (see my Nov. 2 column) instead of resources to educate our children.

As citizens should have learned from previous broken promises, everything from school lottery money to gasoline taxes to “fix roads,” nothing the legislators and bureaucrats say yields follow-through from the spenders up north. All monies are fungible. In other words, state government rakes in the cash and officials do with it whatever they like, regardless of oral or written assurances to voters. 

Signature-gatherers may tell you that small businesses are exempt. The actual language says, “Owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less” won’t see this tax increase. But here’s the truth: Most small businesses rent their space from building owners. Those owners pass along to renters a proportionate share of their property taxes under what is called a “triple net lease.” The renters will most certainly be hit with this tax. Want to see your local strip mall turn into a ghost town? Passage of this measure would almost guarantee it! 

Something else your friendly signature-gatherer probably won’t mention is the cost of implementing this tax-hike scheme – some $639 million a year, according to the California Assessors’ Association. But hey, they’re creating more jobs! Government jobs, that is…another cost to taxpayers, with an estimated 900 additional staff needed to manage the increased work load. 

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA.org) estimates that, under this tax scheme (if it’s approved), thousands of businesses would file appeals and lawsuits because of skyrocketing property tax bills. Such appeals, HJTA says, would create a “major backlog requiring multiple years to resolve.”

California already has the third-highest cost of living in the nation. Raising property taxes on business will only make things worse. Truth be told, this measure is the first step in repealing Proposition 13 and increasing property taxes on homeowners. The tax on our own house, I estimate, would increase immediately by 56%, if the calculation were done by L.A. County on current market value, without Prop. 13 protections. 

How about YOUR house? 

So when that paid signature-gatherer approaches you with clipboards full of petitions, do NOT sign THIS one, No. 19-0008A1! 

Instead, be sure to sign both petitions now circulating to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom…before he totally sinks the ship of state.

Patricia Suzanne is a professional writer, retired small business owner, and conservative Republican activist. She lives in a modest Newhall home, where the money required for annual property taxes could pay a full year’s rent on a two-bedroom furnished home in Arkansas.

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