While 1773 and 1978 may seem like they have nothing in common, both years go down in history books as two famous taxpayer revolts.
The Boston Tea Party’s protest on December 16, 1773 by American colonists sent a strong message to Britain that Americans would not take taxation sitting down.
Fast forward two centuries later, inflation and property taxes were skyrocketing 3,000 miles away from the Boston Harbor.
Families were being pushed out of their homes because their property taxes were unbearable, and a taxpayer revolt was brewing in California.
On June 6, 1978, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 13, which tied property taxes to one percent of the purchase price and capped annual increases at two percent a year, bringing certainty to homeowners and businessowners by allowing them to predict their property taxes long into the future.
Sadly, California politicians have forgotten about the taxpayer revolt that occurred just over four decades ago.
The Golden State now has the highest gas tax, state income tax and state sales tax, which has translated to the highest percentage of population living in poverty and nearly the highest cost of living in the country.
This time, instead of tossing tea into the harbor or heading to the polls to vote for change, Californians are revolting by voting with their feet and moving out of state.
In fact, a recent Berkeley IGS poll found that half of the state’s registered voters admitted to giving thought or consideration to leaving California. According to the poll, 24 percent of 4,527 registered voters admitted giving “serious” thought to leaving and another 28 percent admitted giving it some thought.
And, it’s not just people that are moving; it’s businesses, too.
Companies from Toyota to Carl’s Jr. to Charles Schwab to Nestle USA are moving to other states with lower taxes and taking their good paying jobs with them.
Despite all this, Sacramento politicians and special interests are pushing for higher taxes even after the Legislative Analyst projected a $7 billion budget surplus for the year 2020-21.
According to a recent study by the nonpartisan California Tax Foundation, more than $4.4 billion a year in higher taxes and fees were signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom just this year.
And, if that’s not bad enough, an initiative collecting signatures to qualify for the November 3, 2020 ballot would raise property taxes by $12.5 billion a year.
The measure would remove Proposition 13’s protections for commercial and industrial properties and tax them based on their current market value, rather than the purchase price.
Ultimately, higher taxes on businesses mean higher costs for everything we buy, including rent, groceries, gasoline, restaurants, prescriptions, clothing, daycare, health care and much more.
It’s no wonder why fewer than half of likely California voters said they’d support the largest tax increase in state history, according to a November Public Policy Institute of California survey of Californians regarding their thoughts on a split roll property tax system.
It is clear that California is on the verge of another taxpayer revolt.
Whether it is voting against higher taxes at the ballot box or packing up their bags and moving out of state, California families have had enough.
The unrest is growing and now is not the time for new and higher taxes.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (hjta.org).