Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

Hundreds plan to rally in S.F. Thursday to stop CPUC’s latest solar tax proposal

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

“Don’t Tax the Sun” event is part of the largest ever submission of live and video-recorded public comments in CPUC history

Organizers claim tax will boost utility profits at the expense of clean energy needs 

San Francisco—Hundreds of solar workers, consumers, clean energy advocates, community leaders, conservationists, and climate activists will join together at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) headquarters building in San Francisco on Thursday to protest the CPUC’s latest proposal to tax rooftop solar and drastically reduce the credits consumers receive for selling their solar energy back to the grid.

After a brief rally, solar supporters will line up to give public comments during the CPUC meeting. In Los Angeles, another thousand solar supporters will record their video testimonials to submit to the CPUC. Combined, Thursday’s actions are expected to be the largest ever submission of live and video-recorded public comments in CPUC history.

  • WHAT: 500+ ‘Don’t Tax the Sun’ rally and largest ever CPUC public comment submission
  • WHEN: Thursday, June 2 at 11:00am PDT
  • WHERE: CPUC headquarters at 505 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco where the CPUC will be opening its doors to in-person public comment.
  • WHO:  Large and diverse coalition of solar supporters.
  • VISUALS: Rally and more than 500 solar supporters lined-up to give public comments wearing bright red ‘Don’t Tax the Sun’ tee-shirts with signs and banners.

The CPUC is currently considering changes to “net energy metering,” the state policy that makes rooftop solar more affordable for consumers of all types by compensating them for the excess energy they produce and share with their neighbors. Currently 1.5 million consumers use net metering, including thousands of public schools, churches and affordable housing developments, and it is the main driver of California’s world-renowned rooftop solar market. As a result of net metering, working and middle class neighborhoods are just under half of the rooftop solar market and the fastest growing segment today.

Big utilities want to change the rules in their favor in order to eliminate a growing competitor, keep consumers stuck in utility monopolies, and maintain the need for costly and often dangerous transmission lines that are a key driver of utility profits and ratepayer costs.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of rooftop solar and net metering in California, the CPUC is considering a proposed decision, favored by investor-owned utilities, to implement a monthly solar penalty tax while also slashing credits consumers receive for their excess solar energy.

The CPUC had previously proposed a similar steep tax on rooftop solar and an immediate gutting of the credits of solar consumers. The unpopular proposed decision was shelved for an indefinite amount of time earlier this year after intense backlash and public disapproval from Governor Newsom. The CPUC’s recent ruling to re-open its net energy metering procedures seems again to be pursuing a tax, this time hidden and under a different name.

By contrast, solar supporters want to keep solar growing and affordable for all types of consumers, ensure California remains on track with its clean energy and land conservation goals, and accelerate the growth of solar plus storage to build a more resilient electric grid.

About Save California Solar

Save California Solar is a coalition formed to help ensure that rooftop solar continues to grow and benefit every Californian. Save CA Solar includes more than 600 diverse organizations and helped generate 150,000+ public comments submitted in support of net metering ahead of the CPUC proposed decision. Learn more at www.savecasolar.org.

 

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County Assessor Kramer working to increase property tax exemption from $7K to $100K

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

Working on proposition for November ballot; would save $1,000 per year on average

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer.

The only law protecting seniors and other property owner dollars against inflation and real estate is Proposition 13. The most your real estate taxes can be raised is 2% a year under Prop 13.

Presently Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer and several other assessors throughout the California are working to increase the homeowner’s exemption from $7,000 a year to $100,000 a year minimum. This would give every homeowner almost a $1,000 a year reduction in their property taxes.

Prior to Prop 13 passing in 1978 the homeowner’s exemption was 25% of the assessed value. That also is an alternative to the $100,000 homeowner’s exemption being proposed. Please stay tuned for a proposition that addresses this on our upcoming November 2022 ballot.

“We’re working with the Jarvis Gann group,” Kramer said. “If there was ever a time to help homeowners this is the time with inflation, increased values, and increases in interest rates.”

“The state should have indexed the exemption in 1978 but they were greedy and did not,” he added.

As this proposition develops, he will keep the public informed, Kramer shared.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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County Assessor provides important information regarding your property taxes – due April 10

Saturday, April 2nd, 2022

April 2, 2022

Subject: Your Property Taxes

Dear Property Owner,

Help us provide you with the best service possible and let us help you avoid high-interest rates and penalties. Please remember to pay the second installment of your property

Taxes on or before April 10, 2022.

If you have any questions or concerns about how to make your payment you can contact the

County Tax Collector’s office at: (925) 957–5280.

If you have any questions or concerns about the taxable value of your home, please take the opportunity to call us at the County Assessor’s office at (925 )313-7400.

You’re welcome to visit the Assessor’s office at 2530 Arnold Drive in Martinez. We’re open to the public 8AM to 4PM Monday through Friday to help you with your property tax questions.

Gus Kramer

County Assessor

In case you have paid your property taxes in full or you do not own property in Contra Costa County, please disregard this notice.

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Less than a month until Tax Day: millions of Californians yet to file

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Families can miss out on thousands of dollars by not filing by April 18

CALIFORNIA – United Ways of California is urging Californians to file before the April 18 tax filing deadline. According to the most recent data from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), filing for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is down 5% among Californians this tax season compared to this day last year, and while nearly 4 million California residents claimed the tax credit last year, less than 35% of those eligible have filed for the credit this year. Thousands of dollars in tax credits are available to California residents – and all they have to do is file their taxes to receive them. There are numerous no-cost tax filing options available and Californians are encouraged to visit MyFreeTaxes.org to utilize United Ways’ free tax filing program and tax education resources, provided in both English and Spanish.

Advocates are concerned at the low filing numbers this close to Tax Day, as 64% of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. However, it’s not too late for working families in California to get additional tax credits from the state – California is offering two tax credit programs to help families stay afloat:

  • The California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) ranges from $255 to over $3,000 and is available to families with incomes up to $30,000.
  • If you qualify for the CalEITC AND have a child under the age of 6, families can file for the Young Child Tax Credit(YCTC), which provides up to an additional $1,000 per child.

United Ways of California urges families to stay away from pay-to-file companies to file for these tax credits, which can save filers 13-20% of their tax refund, an average of $400. According to an audit by the Treasury General for Tax Administration, more than 14 million taxpayers in 2019 may have paid tax software providers when they could have filed for free.

“United Ways throughout California are providing IRS-certified volunteers at no cost to these hardworking families, helping them navigate these tax credit programs and get their tax returns submitted early,” said Pete Manzo, United Ways of California president and CEO. “The money can add up to quite a lot. In fact, some families can receive thousands of dollars – depending on their income and family size. With quick, safe, no-cost tax filing programs like MyFreeTaxes.org, all eligible Californians should claim these life-changing tax credits.”

Federal tax credits are also still available to families – even if households made $0 – like the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provides up to $3,600 per child under the age of 18 as of December 31, 2021, and EITC, which adds up to $6,728 if the filer made less than $57,414.

As of March 2022, the IRS had a backlog of 7.2 million unprocessed individual returns for 2021, a far higher number than the typical one million. Families should expect to experience delays when filing their taxes this year, so it’s important to file as early as possible. The agency also added new regulations around claiming EITC or CTC to prevent identity fraud, so filers should be prepared for an additional delay if filing for these programs.

“Utilizing [free tax prep assistance] is essential to someone in need, you never know what someone has to go through in their lives financially,” said Crystal Vargas, a Kern County resident who filed through United Ways’ services. “I always come here knowing I’ll be taken care of—people don’t need to feel the financial burden of paying someone for their taxes and not knowing what exactly the process is. I plan to spend some of my refund on paying back my student loans and catching up on bills, and the rest to savings for emergencies.”

Nearly one in three California households—over 3.5 million families (33%)—do not earn sufficient income to meet basic needs, making it more important than ever to file by the April 18 deadline – the smallest delay in receiving tax returns could provide challenges to families who need to cover daily expenses and meet basic needs. For more information, free assistance, and to see if you qualify for no-cost tax filing, filers should visit MyFreeTaxes.org or text “taxes” to 211-211 to find a free tax filing site near them.

United Ways of California improves the health, education and financial results for low-income children and families by enhancing and coordinating the advocacy and community impact work of local United Ways across California. United Ways of California was formed in 2008 by California’s local United Ways seeking to work together to educate state and national leaders about policy issues affecting community impact goals in health, education, and financial stability.

 

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Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office issues important warning to taxpayers

Thursday, February 10th, 2022

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Measure X Sales Tax – meeting the needs of our community?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Zoom webinar Feb. 17 at 4:00 p.m. to learn about first year allocations

By Gail Murray

Measure X, a new county-wide sales tax to support health and human services for our local neighbors and families, was passed by voters in November 2020. The tax money is being collected and decisions are being made on how to allocate the money in support of the values we hold as residents of Contra Costa.

The Measure X Advisory Committee was established by the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors to help prioritize spending of Measure X dollars to support health and human services in our county. The Committee has met over many weeks, days and hours, and has produced its report. The people of Contra Costa County have unmet human service needs, and they are growing fast, as documented by the Measure X Advisory Committee. The Board has weighed these growing needs with the limited dollars available to allocate this first year.

Join us Thursday, February 17 at 4:00 p.m. for a Zoom webinar to hear about the first year of allocations. What was recommended by the Advisory Committee, what was funded, and what are the gaps still remaining? Do these allocations support our values? What can we learn from this first year of sales tax allocations?  What does this mean for the future?

This expert panel will be moderated by Shanelle Scales-Preston, Vice Mayor and Pittsburg City Council member. Panelists are Mariana Moore, Chair of the Measure X Citizens Advisory Board; Dan Geiger from Budget Justice Coalition; and Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, Chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, representing District 4. 

Questions from the public will be taken in advance at Program@LWVDV.org. During the webinar, questions may be submitted thru Zoom Q&A function. 

Click here to register for the webinar. Information on how to access the Zoom webinar will be sent to your email address 24 hours before the program.

The program is a partnership among the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley and of West Contra Costa County, along with the Contra Costa County Library. The Library will provide closed captioning for this event. 

The program will be recorded and posted on the following sites after the meeting:

LWVDV YouTube channel

Contra Costa County Library YouTube channel

 

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Glazer, 42 other state legislators from both parties call for increase to Renters Tax Credit 

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

From $60 to $500 for single residents and $120 to $1,000 for single parents and couples in eligible households. Focused on poorest. Last changed in 1979.

State Senator Steve Glazer. (D-7-Orinda)

SACRAMENTO – Low-income California renters who have been drowning in unaffordable housing costs would see much-needed relief under a bill unveiled Wednesday by State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) and co-authors representing more than one-third of the Legislature.

The legislation, SB 843, would increase the California renter’s tax credit for the first time in more than 40 years and would represent significant help to renters across California. Eligible households would receive $500 for single residents and $1,000 for single parents and couples. Currently, eligible renters have their tax liabilities offset by only $60 for single filers or $120 for joint filers.

The bill would make the tax credit more valuable to the poorest Californians by making single parents eligible for the same credit as couples and allowing people to receive the full credit even if the amount exceeds their tax liability.

“We’ve treated renters like the doormat outside California’s economic recovery house,” Glazer said. “We cannot make an economic comeback without renters having their rightful place inside. Renters have waited 42 years for a modest level of fairness in our tax code. We can’t make them wait any longer.

“An increase in the renters’ tax credit will mean that people don’t have to choose between putting food on the table, taking their kids to the doctor, and making the rent.”

Those eligible for the new renter’s credit would be single filers making $43,533 or less and joint filers making $87,066 or less. Nearly 2.4 million renters would be eligible for the tax credit, according to 2019 Franchise Tax Board estimates.

California has not increased the renter’s credit since 1979. The proposed increase accounts for inflation since then. SB 843 provides direct help to renters – those who typically struggle the most to find affordable housing, and who have been hit hard during COVID-19.

Glazer’s previous attempt to increase the credit – SB 248 – was described by CalMatters as the “most bipartisan bill of the year.”  That bill had 30 co-authors. SB 843 already has 43 — and counting — from across the state and all parts of the ideological spectrum.

Assemblyman Steven Choi, R-Irvine, a principal co-author, said: “Nearly half of the state’s residents are renters, but we simply have not done enough to help them with our state tax policies. This legislation can serve as one tool to make renting more affordable. It would be a real boost to working families who are struggling to make ends meet with the high cost of living in California.”

Too many renters have struggled for too long, said Senator Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger.

“California renters have struggled to meet rent prior to the pandemic, and have faced rents that in some areas have tripled,” said Senator Hurtado. “Even with steps we have previously taken, many renters face homelessness. This tax relief credit will provide much needed relief for renters, and I am happy to support it.”

Senator Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, said there couldn’t be a better time than now to help renters.

“We need to help California renters, many of whom are struggling, with permanent financial relief,” said Senator Susan Rubio. “I want to thank Senator Glazer for introducing this bill, and I’m happy to be a co-author. Increasing the renters tax credit, while we have a healthy budget surplus, will put money where it’s needed the most and help families now and in the future.”

Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said so many historic moments have come and gone without much help for renters. Until now.

“A lot has changed since 1979: my LA Clippers relocated to Los Angeles, the internet was ‘born,’ the Berlin wall fell, and a NASA spacecraft flew past Pluto,” Wilk said. “One thing that hasn’t changed? California’s $60 renter’s tax credit. Offering low-income renters such little assistance is inexcusable and reflects a bygone era. I am excited we are taking serious steps to put this behind us, too.”

Senator David Cortese, D-San Jose, said: “I’d like to thank Senator Glazer for his leadership as well as my colleagues for introducing this bill that will significantly expand our state’s renters tax credit and provide much needed relief to not only millions of low-income renters, but also our ‘missing middle’-income population that is often overlooked. And by doing so, this bill will provide stability to our families and prevent the displacement of valuable members of our communities – including our teachers, nurses, nonprofit employees as well other essential workers who are being forced to leave the state due to high cost of living and skyrocketing rents.”

 

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, a co-author, said, “Renters have been disproportionately affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19. Until the pandemic is fully behind us and jobs can return to full capacity, some renters may continue to face a risk of homelessness or housing instability. Updating the renters tax credit is a way of providing critical direct relief to some of California’s most vulnerable.” 

Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen, R-Huntington Beach, said: “After a difficult two years throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it is my priority to find and work toward solutions that lower the cost of living. This tax credit will help many families in our community not have to choose between paying for rent and providing food for their family. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to get this bill passed through the Legislature and onto the Governor’s desk.”

Jiseon Kim, a University of California Los Angeles senior majoring in history and public affairs and Head of Advocacy at Swipe Out Hunger at UCLA, said that students are among the many Californians facing high housing costs today, “one of many obstacles they face in being able to earn their degrees. This bill would help address our cost of living issues and will contribute to all students’ overall educational success.”

Senator Brian Jones, R-Santee, said the bill recognizes the needs of working families.

“The State’s $45 billion budget surplus was built on the backs of hardworking Californians, including renters, who now deserve a break,” Jones said.

The Renter’s Tax Credit is a common-sense idea that offers urgently needed relief to California’s millions of families burdened with high rent, said David Knight, Executive Director of the California Community Action Partnership (CalCAPA). While California homeowners receive $5.8 billion in tax relief through mortgage deductions, renters’ relief has been barely a blip on the radar, Knight noted. The cost of the new renter’s credit would be around $1.2 billion, according to 2019 Franchise Tax Board estimates.

“It’s a matter of fairness,” Knight said. “California’s housing policies have favored homeowners for decades by offering them a tax credit for the interest on their mortgages. But, renters haven’t been granted similar benefits. CalCAPA is proud to support this important bill, which makes our housing policy more fair and equitable.”

Senator David Min, D-Irvine, said: “Housing remains a top issue for Californians in every corner of our state. From the rising cost of living to the COVID-19 crisis, California renters have faced no shortage of challenges in recent years. I’m honored to be a coauthor of SB 843, which will help thousands by making crucial and long overdue updates to the California Renters Tax Credit.”

The renter’s credit was established in 1972. Since its only increase in 1979, rents in California have more than quintupled while the renters credit remained flat. Median state rent exceeds $1,500 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, and rentals in cities like San Francisco average more than $2,700 a month.

Senator Bob Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera, said: “Expanding eligibility for the renters tax credit is incredibly important. Especially now, as Californians continue to struggle with the pandemic, it is important we do everything we can to make California more affordable for all Californians. I am proud to be a coauthor of Senate Bill 843, and thank Senator Glazer for his leadership on this issue.”

Assemblywoman Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel), a co-author, said, “California is facing a housing crisis unlike anything we have ever seen before. In addition to a lack of housing, we also have one of the nation’s highest costs of living. The existing renters tax credit has not been raised since 1979 and due to inflation plus a stagnant economy, Californians are hurting now more than ever. Modernizing and updating this credit to keep up with 21st century living standards is the right thing to do to provide relief to low-and-middle income renters.”

Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton, said: “The ever-rising cost of housing in California has led us to a worrying poverty rate that is unsustainable for our families today and for future generations,” said Assemblymember Villapudua. “Too many of us now spend well over 30 percent of our income on rent which forces struggling families into making difficult decisions and cutting priorities. An increase in this tax credit for renters across California would provide essential relief for these individuals as they work to meet these rising costs to keep a roof over their heads.”

 

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Tolls on seven Bay Area bridges increased by $1 on New Year’s day fund $4.45 billion of transportation projects

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

The John A. Nejedly Bridge in Antioch. Source: BATA

Second of three voter-approved increases, this one to $7; funds held in escrow pending State Supreme Court decision

Bay Bridge Toll Plaza from MTC website. By Noah-Berger

By Bay Area Toll Authority

With the new year, the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) reminds drivers that tolls at the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges increased by $1 on Jan. 1, 2022. This is the second of the three $1 toll increases approved by the Legislature in 2017 through state Senate Bill 595 and by voters through Regional Measure 3 in June 2018. The first of these toll hikes went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The last of the Regional Measure 3 toll increases will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

Regular tolls for two-axle cars and trucks (as well as for motorcycles) at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay, Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo-Hayward bridges rose to $7 from the current $6 on Jan. 1, 2022.

Tolls for vehicles with three or more axles also rose by $1 on Jan. 1, 2022, at all seven of the state-owned toll bridges: to $17 for three axles, $22 for four-axles, $27 for five axles, $32 for six axles, and $37 for combinations with seven or more axles.

Senate Bill 595 and Regional Measure 3 continue the peak-period toll discount for motorcycles, carpools and qualifying clean-air vehicles crossing any of the state-owned toll bridges on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The discounted toll increased to $3.50 on Jan. 1, 2022, from the previous $3. To qualify for this discount, carpoolers, motorcyclists and drivers of qualifying clean-air vehicles must use FasTrak® to pay their tolls electronically and must use a designated carpool lane at each toll plaza.

Senate Bill 595 and Regional Measure 3 also established a 50-cent toll discount for two-axle vehicles crossing more than one of the state-owned toll bridges during weekday commute hours of 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. To be eligible for the toll discount, which is to be applied to the second toll crossing of the day, motorists must pay their tolls electronically with FasTrak®. Carpools, motorcycles and qualifying clean-air vehicles making a second peak-period toll crossing in a single day will qualify for an additional 25-cent discount off the already-discounted carpool toll.

Funding for Transportation Projects

The funds collected from the additional toll will fund a $4.45 billion list of transportation improvement projects throughout the nine-county Bay Area, which includes $470 million in Contra Costa County.

Source: MTC

Source: MTC

New FasTrak® customers can obtain toll tags at hundreds of Walgreens and Costco stores around the Bay Area. A complete list of participating locations — as well as an online enrollment and registration feature — is available on the FasTrak® Web site at bayareafastrak.org. Customers also may enroll in the FasTrak® program by phone at 1-877-229-8655; by calling 511 and asking for “FasTrak” at the first prompt; or in person at the FasTrak® customer service center at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco. Phone service is available Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The walk-in customer service center is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. FasTrak® can be used in all lanes at all Bay Area toll plazas.

Because a legal challenge to Senate Bill 595 and Regional Measure 3 remains pending before the California Supreme Court, the January 1, 2022 toll increase, as collected, is placed into an escrow account managed by an independent trustee. Revenue from the 2019 toll increase also is being held in escrow. If BATA prevails in the litigation, the funds will be applied to BATA-approved programs.

Major projects in the Regional Measure 3 expenditure plan include improvements to State Route 37 in the North Bay, freeway interchange improvements in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties, the purchase of more new BART cars, extension of the BART system from Berryessa to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, extension of the Caltrain corridor to the Salesforce Transit Center in downtown San Francisco, expansion of Muni’s transit vehicle fleet, expansion of San Francisco Bay Ferry service and more frequent transbay bus service, a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 in Marin County to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, upgrades to the Dumbarton Bridge corridor, and extension of the SMART rail system to Windsor and Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

BATA, which is directed by the same policy board as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), administers toll revenues from the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges. Toll revenues from the Golden Gate Bridge are administered by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, which joined with BATA to operate a single regional FasTrak® customer service center in San Francisco. MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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