Local Taxes

Voters to Decide Fate of 280 Tax Increase Measures in November

California State Capitol 1

When Californians go to the polls November 8, they will vote on 280 local tax increases (including bonds) and four local tax repeal measures in addition to a statewide initiative (Proposition 30) that would increase California’s top marginal personal income tax rate to 15.05 percent.

If all of the direct taxes were approved, Californians’ local tax burden would increase nearly $2.4 billion a year, according to estimates provided by local jurisdictions. There would be additional property tax increases to repay the bonds.

In the city of Gonzales (Monterey County), the City Council couldn’t wait for the November election, and instead scheduled a special election for a sales tax increase measure. The vote-by-mail election concluded August 30. (CalTax: This measure is not included in the tally of November ballot measures above, but information about the tax is included in the CalTax local tax measure table that can be viewed here.)

The number of local tax and bond measures is up from the November 2018 midterm elections, when voters decided on 73 local tax measures.

On the ballot this November are 178 measures that propose direct tax increases and 96 bonds that would be repaid via property tax increases, according to data available from the 57 counties that posted their election information online, had the information reported in the media, or responded to CalTax’s requests for data. Humboldt county had not made full information available as of the CalTaxNews’ publication deadline.

The direct tax proposals include 55 sales tax increases, 39 parcel taxes, 29 hotel taxes, 14 business taxes, and 41 other types of taxes.

Additionally, voters will decide the fate of 95 local school bonds totaling $22.3 billion and seven general obligation bonds totaling $1.6 billion. Unlike state bonds, which are repaid through the state general fund, local bonds are repaid – with interest that adds significantly to the total – via higher property taxes in the jurisdiction that approved the bond. (The California Constitution sets the property tax rate at 1 percent of assessed value – the value when the property was acquired, adjusted for any new construction and inflation increases up to 2 percent a year – and allows local governments to add to this rate for the purpose of repaying voter-approved bonds.)

Click here to view CalTax’s local tax table, which is also posted on the CalTax website and will be updated with results as they are announced.