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California’s state motto: If it isn’t nailed down, tax it

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POSTED April 2, 2009 4:57 a.m.
Let me tell you
How it will be.
There’s one for you,
Nineteen for me,

‘Cause I’m the taxman.
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Should five percent
Appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t
Take it all.

‘Cause I’m the taxman.
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

If you drive a car,
I’ll tax the street.
If you drive to city,
I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold,
I’ll tax the heat.
If you take a walk,
I’ll tax your feet.

‘Cause I’m the taxman.
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

And my advice to
Those who die.
(Taxman!)
Declare the pennies
On your eyes.
(Taxman!)

‘Cause I’m the taxman.
Yeah, I’m the taxman,
And you’re working for no one but me.
(Taxman!)

— Lyrics to the Beatles song “Taxman”

If it moves, is inert, isn’t nailed down, or is simply annoying, let’s tax it.

That’s the attitude at work in Sacramento these days as they try to come up with innovative ways to keep skinning taxpayers. Veterinarian visit? Tax it. iTunes download? Tax it. Gas guzzler? Tax it. Strip club? Tax it. Grocery bag? Tax it. Junk food? Tax it. And my personal favorite: The proposed $1.80 per 6-pack of beer tax.

Rest assured that one or more of these proposed taxes are going to stick to the wall especially since even if the voters in the May 19 special election swallow the big bitter pill and vote for everything needed to keep California afloat, indicators are now pointing to there still being a $10 billion deficit.

The beer tax is my favorite because it points to Sacramento’s mentality of legislators acting like wolves and treating taxpayers as if they were part of a stampeding herd of cattle. Legislators know dang well they can’t take on the entire herd so they’ll try to isolate the weaker among them and pounce on it.

Nothing is weaker than a perceived social evil hence the “sin tax” reference to beer, cigarettes, and liquor. I don’t drink or smoke. Never have and never will. That said I’m not in favor of wolf tactics in implanting taxes. If they go after beer drinkers now for special sin taxes what is to stop them from putting a 10 percent tax on health club memberships?

Since there is no stomach for overhauling government and getting back to the basics, perhaps voters need to take matters into their own hands and put a series of tax measures on the June 2010 ballot in the form of propositions.

Here are some suggestions:

•Assess a 50 percent tax on all campaign contributions. Since special interests are buying access they might as well pay through the nose when they make the contributions since nine times out of 10 they want access to either milk taxpayers or to fleece them.

•A 75 percent tax on any income on a sitting legislator who makes more than $200,000 a year.

•A 100 percent tax on any car over $15,000 in value that is leased for a legislator.

•A 115 percent tax on income earned by an elected official’s spouse, sibling or child working on a campaign or on their office payroll.

•A $1 fluff tax for every news release or electronic posting made on behalf of a lawmaker by his state-taxpayer paid staff.

•A $500 tax every time a political commercial is broadcast on a TV or cable channel.

•A 50 cents per piece mailer tax on any campaign material sent via mail. The first mailer sent in any given month would be exempt from the tax.

•A $1 a minute drone tax for any political speech lasting more than one minute.

•And one tax that may be extremely popular is when the legislature passes the July 1 budget deadline and fails to adopt a budget that is balanced and complete, the legislators income is taxed at an 80 overall rate until the budget impasse is resolved.

You’ll probably think that all of these taxes could be found unconstitutional. Well, if the legislature can get away with ignoring the state constitution’s prohibition of placing a tax on a tax – think state gas tax incorporated into the price of gallon of gasoline along with federal gas tax of which the entire amount then is subject to state sales tax – then finding ways to justify any tax should be a walk in the park for lawmakers.
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