If the State Board of Equalization would do its job California would have plenty of funding for its schools, its programs and services to the people of California!
The State Board of Equalization (BOE) should serve the public through fair, effective and efficient tax administration. The reason I'm running is because right now that's not the case. California currently collects about $56.3 billion in annual taxes - much more is needed to support our programs and education, but the BOE won't do its job and make the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
The marginal tax rate for businesses is 9.5% for corporate state income tax. But the effective tax rate for large corporations is much less in practice.
For example Chevron, based in California, paid no state income taxes in California in 2008 - instead sending its taxes - both federal and state - to foreign governments where rates are cheaper. How'd they do it? It's complicated - sort of - but basically they structure their business so that they take a loss in the U.S. and earn profits abroad. By moving ownership of profitable assets to overseas subsidiaries while incurring expenses in the U.S. Chevron can avoid being taxed here where tax rates are relatively high.
It's a common practice, some California corporations simply set up P.O. boxes overseas. According to a GAO (Government Accountability Office) study, some 18,000 American companies maintained P.O. boxes in a single building in the Grand Caymans. You might say that's cheating, so would I. But to the BOE it's business as usual and they don't regulate this.
Perhaps you would also agree with me that the ruling by the Contra Costa Assessment Appeals Board on September 2009 against the City of Richmond in favor of Chevron was outrageous. They ruled that Chevron overpaid property taxes by $12.6 million. After Chevron made $18.7 billion in profits in 2007 and record profits in 2008 and 2009 the Contra Costa Assessment Appeals Board had the nerve to say the assessment allows the refinery to stay competitive, and continue to operate and employ people.
This was about the assessors' personal agendas rather than doing their jobs, but this isn't new. Back in the 1930s, many assessors undervalued property, thereby lowering the taxes so they could curry favor with the voters and big business. Counties with honest assessors were paying more than their fair share of the state's burden, so the Board of Equalization was created to equalize the burden and keep its county assessors in check. The current BOE is not keeping their assessors honest, is not regulating the way corporations structure their business, and is therefore not bringing in enough revenue so that California can fund its programs and education.
Is this how the BOE serves the people of California? By allowing corporations like Chevron to dodge taxes at the expense of the people? I think the people should demand better service!
Sherill Borg of Contra Costa County has more than a quarter-century of business experience. She has done such work as accounting manager for a building supply company, managing a team of accountants for Bank of America, and her present job in the Community Development Finance Department of a large bank. She is the Peace and Freedom Party candidate for Board of Equalization in the 1st District, that includes the coastal counties from the Oregon border south to part of Santa Barbara.
From the statewide Voter Information Guide
Tax the corporations
The Board of Equalization Districts
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