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Bill would allow counties to determine taxes

May 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
While state lawmakers continue to bicker over deficits and taxes, a new plan is raising eyebrows. It would give local entities, including school districts and counties, the power to raise taxes on their own.

Imagine counties and school districts all over the state raising taxes. California Senate Bill 653 would allow them to impose an income tax, a car tax and more. It's proposed by state Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

"If we do not get the state revenue here, then we have an obligation to schools, to our sheriffs, to our police chiefs, to give them every tool possible to get the money they need to fulfill their duties," said Steinberg.

It's a shot across the bow against Republicans, who are against extending the state tax increases that were passed two years ago. Steinberg says his plan would bring back more local control over taxing. But opponents say get ready to see a lot more taxes.

With this plan counties could impose their own local income taxes. School districts could impose parcel taxes on property. We could also see an increase in the local sales tax, and more gasoline taxes.

"Parcel taxes, car taxes, soda taxes, income taxes, there may be taxes that haven't even been invented," said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Vosburgh says Californians already pay some of the highest taxes in the country.

There could be hundreds of separate taxes and could affect people who live and work in different counties.

"You could find yourself paying individual income taxes to both of those counties as well as the state and the federal government," said Vosburgh. "It would make just preparing your taxes a nightmare."

Some say this is just the beginning of a long tax fight in Sacramento as Democrats continue to try to force Republicans to approve and extend the temporary statewide tax increases.

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