August 29, 2009

Even Higher Taxes Coming for Californians! This is Just LOVELY! Didn't These Buffoons Just Give Themselves RAISES?! They Also Cut Many Social Services

The Los Angeles Times
Even higher taxes coming for Californians
written by Shane Goldmacher
Thursday August 27, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento - 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.

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.

The new changes apply to the 2009 tax year. Residents are already paying hundreds -- even thousands -- of additional income tax dollars under the quarter-point rate increase and other tax hikes approved in February as part of a budget deal.

"Everything is going up, up, up," said Othman Rabie, owner of a sandwich shop in downtown Sacramento. "And business is going down."

Back in February, state lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a slate of temporary tax increases in an effort to balance California's perennially out-of-whack books.

In addition to the income tax rate rising 0.25%, the dependent credit was slashed by more than two-thirds. The vehicle license fee nearly doubled to 1.15% of a car's value. The state sales tax climbed 1%. We pay 9.75% in sales tax now.

This summer, lawmakers and Schwarzenegger decided to withhold 10% more from workers' paychecks starting Nov. 1 -- an accounting scheme to collect taxes faster. Under another bookkeeping maneuver, individuals and businesses that make estimated tax payments will pony up more of that money sooner starting in the first half of next year.

And some local taxes are on the way up. In Los Angeles County, a half-cent-higher sales tax approved by voters took effect in July to fund transportation projects.

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.

"It takes more money out of the taxpaying productive sectors and scoops it into the government coffers at a time when taxpayers are already reeling," DeVore said.

It is unclear how much additional revenue the new brackets will yield for beleaguered state coffers; the state has not computed that yet, said Denise Azimi, spokeswoman for the tax board.

Some taxpayers say they are worried about their very livelihoods.

Martha Franco, 56, has struggled to keep open her family-run restaurant, Pepe's Tacos in Azusa.

"I average about $6 an hour [in receipts] and I'm open 12 hours a day," she said, sitting in the empty establishment as her son mopped the floor around her. "It already feels like I'm just working to pay my taxes," she said.

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