California Tax Reform Association

System Failure: California’s Loophole-Ridden Commercial Property Tax

Our new report documents the county-by-county shift in the property-tax away from commercial property to residential property in part 1, and in part 2 shows how many major properties fail to pay their fair share of property tax. Read the full report (pdf) here. A summary of the examples of corporate mergers and buy-outs which avoided reassessment is available here as well as in the full report.

Executive Summary

As California faces a severe fiscal crisis at the state and local level, all aspects of our tax system, including the property tax, must be examined. This report provides an examination of the property tax system as it applies to commercial property, and provides significant new data which comes to two clear and related conclusions:

1. In virtually every county, commercial property is paying a far smaller share of the property tax since Proposition 13 passed in 1978.

2. Commercial property is able to exploit huge loopholes in the law to avoid reassessment upon change in ownership.


Open Letter to Warren Buffett  

Open letter to Warren Buffett, written and researched by Jennifer Bestor of Menlo Park. This document is an excellent example of local research which exposes the irrationality of the commercial property tax system.




Updated for the California Working Families Policy Summit 2010 February 25, 2010
Read the full report in PDF
With the state facing a current deficit and ongoing yearly deficits of $20 billion, the survival of basic services and a healthy public sector is at stake. To address this looming future, the burden of recovery must be shared fairly—in contrast to the current path by which public services, the poor and education have taken the largest cuts and the middle-class has borne the increased tax burden.

The following summarizes 10 measures which will spread the burden in a way which arguably have a minimal impact on economic growth and recovery. These include eliminating new loopholes recently opened, taxing untaxed windfalls, ending tax breaks with no benefits, imposing taxes on the very rich, and increasing sin taxes.


Options for Raising Local Revenues

Read the full report in PDF


The Truth About California’s Business Tax Burden

Read the full report in PDF
California’s business tax burden is talked about a lot but most of the debate is based on rhetoric as opposed to empirical research. The business community and lawmakers from both parties, particularly the California Republican Party, have made repeated claims that California businesses are heavily overtaxed.


Finally, a real debate on the economics of taxation?

Since a discussion of tax politics begins and ends quickly in the Capitol, let’s try talking economics instead.

Originally posted by Capitol Weekly


Low Hanging Fruit in the Tax System: 10 Policies for $20 Billion

Download this article as a PDF

With the state facing a current deficit and on-going yearly deficits $20 billion, the survival of basic services and a healthy public sector is at stake. The following summarizes 10 measures which will have the least impact on economic growth and recovery—the “low-hanging fruit” in the tax system.


Statement on the Tax Commission (COTCE) final report

September 29, 2009

The California Tax Reform Association, which participated in many discussions of
the Commission on the Twenty-First Century Economy, criticized the report as “a
failure to provide a fair, long-term solution to California’s revenue and tax
problems.”  Executive Director Lenny Goldberg said, among its many failings, “it
does not even address the distinct issues of the 21st century [...]