STUMP » Articles » Taxing Tuesday: Tax-Related Ballot Questions » 23 October 2018, 15:33

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Taxing Tuesday: Tax-Related Ballot Questions  


23 October 2018, 15:33

For today’s post, let’s leave Trump behind, and focus on tax-related items on state and local ballots.

I’m taking a bit of a break for a while – in short, I’m exhausted and in pain. The reason I’m posting this is most of this was written last week already.


Ballotpedia has a nice guide of tax issues on state ballots, but that’s an entire history.

Let’s see what they have for 2018. There are 37 items on this page… but that includes proposed ballot measures (especially in California) that never made the ballot, or which is not on the November ballot (was earlier in the year). And not all of these are that interesting.

So let’s go down the list in state ABC order, focusing on ones specifically on the November ballot (and excising some ones that even I find boring):


So, here’s a question: in some of these cases, the initiative came from non-legislators who had to petition to get it on the ballot and yadda yadda.

In some other of these cases, it’s part of the process of amending the state consititution and I will come back to that in a bit.

But in some of these cases, it’s the legislature putting something out there, so they don’t have to vote for it themselves or something. WTF?

Separately, most of the state amendments I’m reading don’t need to be in the state constitution, as far as I can tell. For example, why can’t the Nevada legislature just pass a law saying that tampons are not to be taxed? Why cannot state law handle this?

The two competing forces: anti-tax moves (e.g., anti-grocery tax, make it difficult for legislatures to increase taxes, cap on various taxes) and pro-tax moves (increase tobacco taxes, gas taxes, make state income tax progressive) — and in some states, there’s both anti-tax and pro-tax initiatives. Should be interesting to see how that shakes out.


Measure to Weaken Property Tax Limits Qualifies for California’s 2020 Ballot

Coming to an election near you in 2020: the future of Proposition 13, California’s landmark law limiting property taxes.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Monday that an initiative to scale back the protections for commercial and industrial properties is eligible for the November 2020 ballot. The proponents, led by a coalition of civil rights groups and community organizations, could still decide before then not to move forward with the measure.

Okay, sorry, this one will be in 2020, not this year, but this could be big. Not that it will make a huge difference in the presidential election that year, but let’s see what’s coming.

Approved by voters in 1978, Proposition 13 set state property taxes at 1 percent of the purchase price and capped annual increases at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

Californians who hang onto their property for a long time can, as a result, end up paying far less in taxes than what new buyers would pay. Critics complain the state is losing out on billions of dollars per year in revenue from commercial and industrial property, and it has long been a dream of unions and other liberal advocacy groups to overturn at least parts of the law.

The new initiative would tax commercial and industrial properties at market value while leaving in place the Proposition 13 protections for homeowners, a concept known as “split roll.” Small businesses, agricultural land and up to a half million dollars worth of tangible property, such as equipment, would be exempted from the change.

The money raised by the tax increase — estimated by the state at between $6 billion and $10 billion — would go to local governments and schools.

I know the kind of problem with this — in my own case, we had a blanket re-evaluation of property values in our town, which benefited me to the tune of about $3000/year. You see, I made the great decision to buy a hefty house at the top of the market.

The very next year, property values had dropped something on the order of 20%. Of course, my downpayment had been about 25%, so I have never been underwater on my house.

But I had been paying elevated property taxes compared to my neighbors… especially the short sales of 2010.


That’s all. See you whenever!

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