By Carolyn Cavecche, President of OCTax
Published in the Orange County Register, July 27, 2014
It’s discouraging to watch the California Legislature, year after year, pass bills that are bad for taxpayers. It makes you scratch your head, wondering what world our elected representatives live in when they aren’t breathing the rarefied air in Sacramento. What’s worse, when a bill that should be a no-brainer comes before them, it is killed in a committee hearing. With the end of the legislative session fast approaching, it is clear that Assembly Bill 2510 was the best bill that should have passed, but didn’t, this year in Sacramento.
Sponsored by Board of Equalization member George Runner and introduced by Orange County Assemblyman Don Wagner, AB2510 would have required that the state provide a full refund to all individuals who paid a tax that was later declared unconstitutional or illegal. Hard to believe that anyone elected to represent the taxpayers of California would have a problem with this concept. As Runner stated, “It is criminal that the state of California can keep money it illegally collects from its citizens. Anyone who in good faith pays what ends up being an illegal tax should get their money back.”
AB2510 was killed in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee without debate, and as Assemblyman Wagner remarked, “Votes like these are why the public has little trust in state government.”
Even if a tax is later declared to be unconstitutional or illegal, California taxpayers are only eligible to receive refunds once they exhaust all possible appeals. Whether or not taxpayers even know that the state has illegally taken their money, they have the responsibility to figure it out and fill out all needed paperwork. This includes all taxes and fees paid by both businesses and individual taxpayers. There is arrogance to an attitude that states, “I can take whatever I want, whenever I want it. And if a court of law says it was illegally gotten gains, too bad. You have to try and get it away from me.”
Sacramento seems to have forgotten whose money they are spending. It belongs to the taxpayers. Earlier this year, in an editorial supporting AB2510 the Register stated the obvious, “If someone takes your stuff illegally and is caught with it, you should be able to get your stuff back without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. The same should apply to government.”
Sadly, our elected representatives missed a great opportunity to show that they understand they actually work for California taxpayers.