OG-SAN: Fair Share

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By WARREN FURUTANI

Everyone has that friend, when the check comes around, who never quite puts in their fair share. That family member, in-law, who never accounts for their portion of the tip when the money is pooled to pay the bill. It’s happened so long you hardly even think about it. That they don’t pay their FAIR SHARE.

Fair share is a universal principle of reciprocity. It’s a principle of good karma and a universal expectation of someone’s participation in any group or collective effort. To pay or do their fair share.

That’s why people chafe at the reality that Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the United States, didn’t pay any federal income tax. Or that the Americans in the highest income bracket got the highest tax cut in the last Republican tax reform bill. It’s probably why President Trump doesn’t want the public to see his tax records.

All elicit a loud “Come on, maaaan”!

Proposition 15 on the November ballot is an effort to fix a long-standing property tax situation where large corporations have not been paying their FAIR SHARE. A result of which is inadequate funding for schools, social services and the repair of state infrastructure.

To quote an op-ed in The L.A. Times, “Prop 15 is a partial repeal of Proposition 13 but the key word is ‘partial.’ It applies only to commercial and industrial property, and only to holdings worth more than $3 million. If it passes, the assessment on such property would rise annually based on market value instead of being capped at 2% per year.” That’s 2% of 1978 property values.

The landmark 1978 tax reform initiative, Proposition 13, stabilized the property tax system in California. It gave residential home owners relief from a runaway system but also provided a “loophole” for large corporations. It essentially established a ceiling on property tax assessments for large corporations based on 1978 property values.

Consequently, the annual 2% tax increase (the current law) is based on property values linked to the outdated 1978 assessments. While any new company’s property taxes are based on current updated assessments, as is any newly purchased residential property.

For example, Disneyland’s tax is still based on the property’s value when Prop 13 passed in 1978. That’s because new market value assessments only happen when the majority ownership changes. That enables these publicly traded corporations to avoid increased taxes even though stock ownership has rolled over many times. Also, the system is manipulated by dividing up any purchase among multiple entities, which avoids new assessments because there is no majority owner.

As stated, Proposition 15 is going to be on the November ballot and it will attract much political attention and political spending. Those opposed will argue and try and scare residential and small business owners by saying property taxes are going up for everyone.

But, Prop 15 is also called the “split role tax” initiative because it only affects those large corporations that have been manipulating the system and have not been paying their fair share. No residential home owners, agricultural property or business owners whose property holdings are less than $3 million will be affected.

Another argument and scare tactic will be that any tax increase will be passed on to the businesses who have to rent their facilities. They in turn will pass the costs on to the consumer. This is why another slogan and phrase, “the system is rigged,” has become popular.

Yes, the house always wins. The banks, like loan sharks, take their “vig” (interest) off the top. Wall Street gets bailed out while Main Street is left out. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Bernie says, “the top one-tenth of one percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%.”

I’m saying, while we reconcile the issues related to systemic racism, let’s rectify the rigged financial system as well.

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Warren Furutani has served on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, and in the California State Assembly. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo,

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