Local Taxes, November Election

Voters Will Decide Fate of 245 Local Tax and Bond Measures in November

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When Californians go to the polls November 3, they not only will decide the fate of a massive property tax increase (Proposition 15), but will vote on 243 local tax increases and two proposed tax repeals.

The tax increases include measures that would authorize bonds that would be repaid via property tax increases.

The measures include 180 that propose direct tax increases. Based upon data available and estimates provided by local jurisdictions, these measures add up to $1.5 billion annually in higher local taxes.

Additionally, voters will decide $12.9 billion in local school construction bonds and $1.9 billion in other local bonds. 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 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.)

Several measures specifically target employers, potentially creating competitiveness problems that would encourage businesses to take jobs and investments out of the community. These measures include:

  • San Francisco Inequitable Business Tax – Proposition F. A modification to the city’s business tax that would repeal the payroll tax and replace it with increases in the gross receipts tax rates, increasing taxes on certain industries.
  • San Francisco Tax Increase on Local Employers – Proposition L. A gross receipts tax based upon the difference in pay between a business’ executives and other employees.
  • Richmond Gross Receipts Tax – Measure U. Proposes a $2.74 million annual tax increase on employers in the city.
  • Union City Video Streaming Tax – Measure WW. A 5 percent utility users tax on gas, electricity, telecommunication services and video-streaming services.

The table below includes information on the tax and bond measures from 57 of the state’s 58 counties (Modoc county has not responded to CalTax requests for information and has not posted information online, but will be added to the online table when information becomes available). After the election, CalTax will update the online table with results as they are announced.