Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dan Walters Calls for Abolishing the Board of Equalization

Ever since we first heard its creepy, Maoist-sounding name, we've disliked California's Board of Equalization, the bureaucracy charged with overseeing the collection of property, sales, and use taxes and handling income tax appeals to the Franchise Tax Board. Well, today it appears that Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee is with us, as the dean of California journalism calls for the Board's abolition.

The Board of Equalization: Where everyone's equal, and we're in charge!
As with any bureaucracy, there's ample reason to shut down the BoE on the basis of wasting tax dollars; if you don't believe us, read this doozy of a story about the Board's Qualified Purchaser Program from Cal Watchdog. But Walters is after something else; he wants to wipe out the Board not for its inefficiency, but because it's become politicized. The latest example of what he's talking about: the Board's decision to move forward with implementing the Amazon tax, in spite of a coming voter referendum on the tax and a Legislative Counsel opinion advising against moving forward until the referendum is resolved. In Walters' estimation, it's absurd that tax administration should be subject to the whims and ideological preferences of politicians. Because the Board's five members are elected, and two of its members constitute the three-person Franchise Tax Board, we see frequent examples of tax policies being decided on the basis of political pull. Walters recommends abolishing both boards and subsuming their functions in a new Department of Revenue. This wouldn't go nearly far enough for our tastes, but it's a good start.

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