California Officials Prepare for an Earful from Taxpayers

June 16, 2011

California’s Board of Equalization has announced two public hearings in June for state residents to voice their concerns and make suggestions about tax policy in the state. The hearings, required under the state’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights legislation, will be held in Sacramento and Culver City (near Los Angeles).

These hearings give you the opportunity to present your ideas, concerns, and recommendations regarding legislation, the quality of agency services, and other issues related to the Board’s administration of its tax programs. At the business taxes hearings you can comment on the administration of sales and use taxes, environmental fees, fuel taxes, and excise taxes. At the property tax hearings you can comment on the property tax programs and laws administered by the Board, and identify ways to resolve any problems identified in the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocates’ 2009-10 Annual Report.

Many states have laws or regulations protecting the interests of taxpayers, some of them also named with a version of phrase “Taxpayer(s) Bill of Rights.” In California, the law provides for a taxpayer advocacy office (similar to the National Taxpayer Advocate on the federal level) as well as a list of enumerated rights, including the right to prompt service, fair treatment, and confidentiality.

In other states, however, legislation that has been passed under the title Taxpayers Bill of Rights (or TABOR) that is more far-reaching, regulating the tax, spending, and/or budgetary authority of state legislators. The effects on state budget under these kinds of TABOR scenarios can be seen using the Tax Foundation’s State Spending Limits Calculator.

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