Government Finance and Operations 08/09/2013
Utility User Taxes
AB 300 (Perea) – Support in Concept
As Amended on July 10, 2013
AB 300, by Assembly Member Henry Perea, would create a point-of-sale system for collecting state and local charges—including utility user taxes—on prepaid wireless services.
Local agencies that impose a utility user tax on wireless communication are seeing this revenue source slowly fall, despite the ever-increasing number of cell phone subscribers. One reason for this decline in revenue is the increasing popularity of prepaid, non-contract payment plans. Once associated primarily with users who had bad credit, prepaid wireless plans are becoming a more widespread service model. Due to this business model change, counties can benefit from the development of a system that captures the taxes that are owed on these transactions.
The bill’s proponents have engaged with counties over many months to work out the many details necessary to include local charges in the bill’s provisions. In this spirit of cooperation, we continue to work with the author’s office and the bill’s proponents on some details related to a seller’s duties under the bill, which is the reason for withholding our unqualified support.
The Senate Governance and Finance Committee will consider AB 300 at its hearing next Wednesday, August 14.
SB 1 (Steinberg) – Support
As Amended on May 2, 2013
SB 1, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would create a structure for continuing economic development activities consistent with the state’s sustainable development goals.
The foundation of CSAC’s support is allowing counties a clear option whether or not to financially participate in tax increment financing for economic development purposes. An approach that encourages collaboration between counties and cities will best serve Californians. This approach allows counties control over their own general funds, and also necessitates discussions about what kinds of development benefits the community as a whole.
The Assembly Local Government Committee has scheduled the bill to be heard on Wednesday, August 14.
SB 360 (Padilla) – Support
As Amended on August 6, 2013
SB 360, by Senator Alex Padilla, would make various changes to the law to allow a county to devise and test a nonproprietary voting system.
Among the specific changes the bill would make are those that would allow the Secretary of State to conditionally approve a voting system, allow a county to use public funds to develop such a system, and create a process to set the conditions for a pilot program to test the system.
While none of these changes alone represent a revolution in the way elections are run, together they create the opportunity for Los Angeles County to pursue what is frankly a very exciting advance in the administration of elections. Once their system is developed, there is a strong possibility that other counties who are interested could work with LA to implement the system there as well. We urge the Legislature to make these changes so that the effort already underway can continue to move forward.
The Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee has scheduled SB 360 for hearing next Tuesday, August 13.
Sales and Use Tax
AB 781 (Bocanegra) – Support
As Amended on April 18, 2013
AB 781, by Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra, would make it illegal to use, own, install, or sell an automated sales suppression device.
The sorts of devices targeted by this bill automatically hide actual sales levels from auditors, cheating both consumers and the public while unjustly enriching tax scofflaws. When unscrupulous Californians skirt their tax responsibilities, the burden of funding public services falls more heavily on those who follow the law.
By prohibiting the sale and installation of sales suppression devices, not only their ownership and use, the bill would make it easier for the Board of Equalization to reduce their use.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider AB 781 at its hearing on Monday, August 19.