We heard last week about outlines of the Parsky Commission report that would radically shift the tax burden in California. We even heard that offshore drilling may have been snuck into the draft at the last minute. Last week, the commission held a public meeting which featured more details, including the intimation that 3% of the population would see half of the tax break under the Parsky plan. They made the public wait for seven hours and then gave one individual a minute to make a comment. Yesterday, the final public meeting was held, and right before it, Jean Ross offered some facts and figures showing how the commission’s recommendation would amount to the Latvia-ization of the state of California, with a massive transfer of wealth to the upper classes at the expense of working families.
The biggest winners would be the state’s millionaires, who would receive personal income tax breaks averaging $109,000 per year. The biggest losers would be middle-income families who would receive a tiny, if any, reduction in their personal income taxes and who would pay substantially more for goods and services due to the new “value-added” tax the Commission proposes to replace revenues lost due to the tax cuts for the wealthy and repeal of the corporate income tax.
The magnitude of the shift proposed by the Commission is nothing short of stunning. The changes to the personal income tax structure alone would reduce income taxes paid by the poorest 62 percent of California taxpayers by $4 per year, on average, while providing six-figure breaks to the millionaires. The bottom 81 percent of the income distribution – the vast majority of all Californians – would receive 10 percent of the personal income tax cut, while the top 0.2 percent would receive 27 percent of the benefits.
And that’s the “good news.” The Commission would repeal the corporate income tax and the state’s portion of the sales tax and replace it with a new tax on business net receipts – a tax that has never been tried anywhere in the US – that the Commission’s own consultant notes would raise prices of goods and services, while exerting downward pressure on wages and benefits […]
Some might be willing to support these changes if they ended California’s persistent budget crises. But again, the Commission’s own estimates predict that revenues raised by the new tax system would grow more slowly over time than those raised by the state’s current tax system. Thus, the Commission’s recommendations would lead to larger, not smaller, budget shortfalls in the future.
At the committee hearing yesterday, commissioners requested an analysis of the impact of the recommendation for taxpayers, and it came out precisely as Ross stated – “The 10 million taxpayers making less than $50,000 would pay $100 million more in taxes while the 7 million taxpayers who make more than $50,000 would get $6.8 billion in tax cuts.”
This will not be a consensus document, most of the liberals on the panel won’t sign it. And even the news reports today acknowledge that the changes would “largely benefit the wealthy.” Clearly the Governor will put his weight behind it, but that’s meant nothing in Sacramento for several years. The question is whether the Democratic Legislature would dare to massively reward the rich so nakedly by accepting these recommendations. Because the business community is actually against it, worried about the effect of the net receipts tax, I’d still guess no, but people should be letting their Representatives know that they will not get away with a transparent shift in wealth from the middle class to the super-rich.