Yisroel Pensack: Southern California Attorney Submits Ballot Measure to Overhaul State’s Tax System

A Chula Vista attorney has submitted a proposal to the California Attorney General’s office for a constitutional amendment that would overhaul the state’s tax system via the voter initiative and referendum process.

Frank D. Walker, 58, the amendment’s author and founder of “Prosper California,” a group now forming to support the proposed ballot measure, said the reform would abolish the state income tax for individuals with annual incomes below $150,000 and cap the state income tax rate at 8 percent. Additionally, he said, the proposal abolishes the sales tax, except on tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and motor fuels, and also does away with the state’s corporations tax.

Walker said the measure, which he hopes will qualify to appear on next November’s statewide ballot, repeals the current property tax and establishes a tax of 75 percent on the fair market monthly rental value of non-exempt land, irrespective of the value of buildings, houses, other manmade improvements and growing crops, none of which will be taxed.

The proposal allows homeowners age 60 or older to defer any land-rent tax in excess of their last annual property tax bill until 2020 or until their home is sold or transferred, whichever comes first, he added.

The amendment also allows California to enact a severance tax on oil, minerals and timber, Walker said.

To qualify the measure for November’s ballot, proponents must garner 695,000 signatures of registered voters within a five-month period starting when the initiative receives an official summary statement, which should occur around mid-December, Walker said.

He said Prosper California will launch a website in early December at www.ProsperCalifornia.com.

Walker said the proposed amendment is currently under review by the State Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan fiscal adviser. Walker said that office has indicated to him the measure, if approved at the polls, would initially raise about the same amount of revenue annually as currently raised by all levels of government in California, or about $162 billion per year, with future revenues increasing over time after the amendment takes effect.

If passed, the measure would take effect on July 1, 2011, Walker said.

“This reform will revitalize California’s declining economy and create jobs for unemployed Californians,” Walker said. “It does so by eliminating taxes which discourage productive enterprise and commerce, and by halting speculation in land which tends to lock out labor and capital from productive opportunities.

“With this new system of taxation, California will lead the nation in economic growth and will avoid future real estate bubbles followed by severe economic downturns such as experienced in California over the past few years,” he said.

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