Boo on You, Millionaires

So you're a millionaire. Nobody likes you; it doesn’t matter that you earned your status through blood, sweat and tears; and, everybody (OWS/the state/the feds) all want your money.

Sad times if you happen to be a millionaire. Nobody likes you and it doesn’t
matter that you earned your status through blood, sweat and tears (great band
BTW)… the bottom line is you have money and everyone else wants you to give
it to them.

There are going to be no less than five competing tax initiatives on the November 2012 ballot, almost all of which have the concept of taxing millionaires in their respective crosshairs. Rest assured, I have not suddenly become the apologist for millionaires. I just find it fascinating that all these measures should appear
at the same time.

And there’s nothing fancy about what they seek to do. It’s just plain old redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation.

Gov. Jerry Brown this week filed an initiative to increase taxes in an effort to cut the state’s budget deficit. The initiative, which is tied to local government realignment, is estimated to raise $7 billion though the projected budget shortfall next year is estimated to be $13 billion.

First, the Governor’s initiative seeks to increase the state sales tax by .005 (a half-cent) from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2016, then to increase personal income tax on the state’s top wage earners as follows:

>$250,000 individual/$500,000 joint: 1% increase (to 11.3% marginal)
>$300,000 individual/$600,000 joint: 1.5% increase (to 11.8% marginal)
>$500,000 individual/$1,000,000 joint: 2% increase (to 12.3% marginal) 

FYI: The personal income tax hike would be retroactive to the full 2012 tax year through 2016.

Meanwhile, a group fronted by the liberal Courage Campaign and the California Federation of Teachers has proposed an initiative that would raise $6 billion for K-12 education solely by raising income taxes on Californians who earn more than $1 million a year.

Another proposal, backed by the state PTA, would raise $10 billion a year in new revenue by raising taxes on a sliding scale on nearly all wage earners, with the heaviest burden on the wealthiest. The money would go directly to local K-12 schools and early childhood education PLUS the measure forbids the governor and legislators from using the money or directing how it may be spent.

The Think Long Committee has a proposal to raise $5 billion more for public schools every year and billions for public universities and local governments by reshuffling California's tax code. It would lower the state's personal income and sales tax rates and create a new levy of more than 5% on services that are not currently taxed.

Then there's a very different tax increase initiative that uses Proposition 13.  The proposal would allow "nonresidential real property" to be assessed using its "fair
market value" starting in 2014. County tax assessors would revalue the property at least every three years.

It exempts commercial and agricultural land as well as single family and multi-family residences. The initiative would also, starting in 2016, exempt "the first $1 million of tangible personal property," which backers say will protect small businesses. Finally, the initiative would double the homeowner tax break and increase the tax break offered to renters.

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you view these sorts of things), the California electorate has proven time and again that when faced with competing initiatives (or five) on the same subject, there is a tendency to vote "no" on all of them. Should be interesting to see if one wins the "Gouge the Millionaires" Sweepstakes.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lou Covey, The Local Motive December 21, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Make that , " can't, politically."
Veronica Palmer December 21, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Jennifer, you have a few ideas worth pursueing but I essentially disagree with you on the basic premise that government is unable to manage its finances. Now I recognize that there are some areas of gevernment spending I don't like and that some people game the system but we are ignoring that the big businesses do a much better and efficient job of gaming the system. I don't agree that businesses are inherently better than government for providing services. This seems to me to be the arguement you are standing for. There are plenty of examples for both our positions but the currently popular position is that business does it better than government. Neither entity is perfect. I believe that as long as we elect people who don't want government to work at all levels; we won't have government that works at any level. We have been doing this for decades and as long as we keep doing this it won't get any better. I am sure that most of the 43% that don't pay Fed. Income Tax aren't making enough money to pay income tax in the first place. I'm sure they take something from the rest of us. But I don't think I'd like the alternative. I'll leave that to the reader's imagination. I resent most, as you apparently do too, the big and profitable corporations and the corporate CEO's and hedge fund managers that destroy our environment and our economy get tax breaks, tax refunds and taxpayor funded bailouts. These are the ones who really game the system big time.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive December 22, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Wealth and Income are two separate things. Wealth is assets and capital. Income is what we receive for our labor. They are not interchangeable. When we talk about taxing the wealthy, we are talking about taxing the income they make from investment, primarily, not about distributing their wealth. But according to Politifact, most of the wealth in this country doesn't belong to the "one percent." To top 400 wealthiest people own $1.3 trillion of the wealth while the bottom 60 percent have $1.26 trillion, so the wealthiest have more than most. But the total net worth of the US, $54.9 Trillion, is fairly evenly divided among the other 39 percent... what we would call the middle class which includes school teachers, teamsters and public employees. Now let's look at income. Total annual income in the US is more than $12 Trillion. The top 20 percent (that's people making over $100,000 a year) take a little over 26 percent of that and those making less than poverty level take 3.6 percent. That means 70 percent of all the income in the US is earned by people making between $100,000 and $22,000. When we talk about raising taxes on the wealthy, we really aren't talking about fixing our economic problem, because even if we confiscated everything the top 1 percent own, we wouldn't be able to balance the budget. "Taxing the rich" is just a feel-good concept. It's vengeance only. The money we need to fix our country, if we don;t do major cuts, exists in the middle class 
Jennifer Tegnerud December 22, 2011 at 01:54 AM
Well the lovely thing about this country is our freedom of speech, and our ability to say; " let's agree to disagree." This article is perfect example of mismanaged or stupid gov spending, and how government assistance isn't being monitored. Enjoy and Happy Holidays Redwood Cityites! http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/6946d43b-bccf-4579-990e-15a763532b40.html
Veronica Palmer December 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM
Lou, I have to take exception to your comment that "tax the rich" Is "about vengeance only". It is not about vengeance! It is about people that have the resources to spare. You know that income for the lower 98% has hardly gone anywhere but sideways for over thirty years now but the top 2% have experienced income growth over the same period. Expecially the top 1% who have generally experienced hundreds of times more growth than the rest of us. As an aside average household income for the 98% has been declining in recent years due to cuts we are taking and higher costs of living. I think what I object to in this discussion is that the middle class and the poor have not sacrificed enough and the rich shouldn't be included in this sacriffice. Lou, GIVE ME A BREAK! I haven't had a raise in 4 years and my daily living expenses have gone up and up. And I'm a lucky one. I still have a job. I have to ask you Lou: What does you're America look like?


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