Tax hikes coming for Californians anyway

Californians must have thought they’d sent a loud and clear message to Sacramento in May when they rejected a series of referendums that would have approved tax hikes to solve their budget crisis.  The only ballot initiative approved cut off legislators’ pay when they failed to produce a budget, in what should have been a sign that the Golden State electorate had had enough.  The political class in the state capital apparently has their fingers stuck firmly in their ears:

While Californians are still feeling the sting of income and sales tax hikes signed into law earlier this year, now comes news that state tax authorities plan to take a little more from their pockets.

For only the second time in 30 years, the tax board is lowering the point where each tax bracket begins, bumping many people into a higher category. At the same time, officials are cutting back some deductions. Everyone will pay more, even people whose bracket or income doesn’t change.

The extra sums will total as much as $140 per family, on top of the increases previously enacted.

You’ll love the excuse:

Officials said the latest adjustments have been triggered by inflation, or rather the lack of it. This year, the state’s inflation index was a negative numberfor the first time since 1983. When the economy takes a deep plunge, so do tax brackets.

Er, what?  If deflation occurs, then buying power of existing dollars goes up, at least in the short term.  Strictly speaking, that should require less tax revenue as costs decline for the state.  Instead, as people make less, they get taxed more.

How does this affect tax brackets?

Under the latest changes, for a married couple filing jointly, the top tax rate of 9.55% now begins at $92,698, down from $94,110. Combined with the earlier increases, such a couple with two children, earning $100,000, will see their California income tax bill rise by 22.3%, or $716, according to the state Franchise Tax Board. Their tax would go from $3,208 to $3,924, factoring in a $110 drop in the standard deduction for joint returns.

For singles, the top tax threshold has dropped from $47,055 to $46,349. This year, a single filer without children who earned $30,000 in 2008 and 2009 would pay 13.8% more: $617 instead of $542. The standard deduction for sole filers will fall by $55.

But for sheer cluelessness, you have to love this:

Not everyone minds paying more to protect such services as education, healthcare and parks, though.

An extra $100 or so, said Sharon Sugerman, a 59-year-old Sacramento resident who declined to give details about her job, “seems pretty reasonable to me.”

Do you wonder why Sugerman didn’t want to give her job details?  It appears that Sugerman works for the California Department of Health, which took me all of ten seconds to discover on Google.  She might have a personal interest in seeing tax hikes enacted, and it’s not about keeping parks open.

The rest of California employed outside of government disagrees, as they made clear in May.  Maybe they should find representatives that will take their fingers out of their ears and actually listen to their constituents.