Skip to content

California Complexity Continues

1 min readBy: Curtis S. Dubay

California currently sports the highest individual income taxAn individual income tax (or personal income tax) is levied on the wages, salaries, investments, or other forms of income an individual or household earns. The U.S. imposes a progressive income tax where rates increase with income. The Federal Income Tax was established in 1913 with the ratification of the 16th Amendment. Though barely 100 years old, individual income taxes are the largest source of tax revenue in the U.S. rate in the nation, 10.3%. Now comes word that a measure to increase taxes to fund universal preschool is close to gaining enough signatures to qualify for the 2006 ballot. From State TaxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. Notes:

A measure promoted by actor Rob Reiner and Preschool California to provide for universal preschool in California has been cleared for circulation and is expected to gather sufficient signatures to qualify for the June 2006 ballot. If approved by voters, the initiative would raise $2 billion to $2.4 billion per year through a 1.7 percentage point tax increase on individuals earning above $400,000 ($800,000 for joint filers).

Tax increases which are earmarked for specific programs are bad tax policy because taxes should be designed to raise revenue to fund the government as a whole. Also, earmarked taxes often add complexity to the tax code.

A tax increase will be devastating to California’s already fragile business climate, which the Tax Foundation ranks 38th. The additional tax increase on top of the 1% surcharge on individual incomes over $1 million—which took effect January 1, 2005 and gave California the highest marginal rate in the country–will be especially harmful to the business climate.

The large proposed tax increase will only serve to push high income earners and businesses from the state, which California can hardly afford. California voters need to think about this before heading to the ballot in 2006.