Unaffordable California – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

January 2014 Update:  Here’s a documented comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is bad, and getting worse. But it doesn’t have to be this way! The state and local government policies that created an unaffordable California can be reversed:

PERSONAL INCOME TAX:  Prior to Prop 30 passing in Nov. 2012, CA already had the 3rd worst state income tax rate in the nation. Our 9.3% tax bracket started at $48,942 for people filing as individuals. 10.3% started at $1 million. Now our retroactive (to 1/1/2012) “millionaires’ tax” rate is 13.3% – including capital gains (CA total CG rate now the 2nd highest in the world!). 10+% taxes now start at $250K. CA now has by far the nation’s highest state income tax rate. We are 21% higher than 2nd place Hawaii, 34% higher than Oregon, 47.8% higher than the next 2 states, and a heck of a lot higher than all the rest – including 7 states with zero state income tax. CA is so bad, we also have the 2nd highest state income tax bracket. AND the 3rd. Plus the 5th and 7th.
http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/ff2013.pdf, Ref. Table 12


SALES TAX:  CA has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.5% (does not include local sales taxes).

GAS TAX:  CA has the nation’s highest gas tax at 71.6 cents/gallon (October, 2013). National average is 49.5 cents.
(CA also has the nation’s 3rd highest diesel tax – 76.2 cents/gallon. National average 54.8 cents)

PROPERTY TAX:  California in 2010 ranked 19th highest in per capita property taxes (including commercial) – the only major tax where we are not in the worst ten states. But the median CA property tax per owner-occupied home was the 7th highest in the nation in 2009.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/1913.html (2009 latest year available)

“IMPACT FEES” ON HOME SALES:  Average 2012 CA impact fee for single-family residence was $31,100, 90% higher than next worst state. 265% higher than jurisdictions that levy such fees (many governments east of the Sierras do not). For apartments, fee averaged $18,800, 290% above average outside state. The fee is part of the purchase price, so buyer pays an annual property tax on the fee!

“CAP AND TRADE” TAX:  CA has now instituted the highest “cap and trade” tax in the nation – indeed, the ONLY such U.S. tax. One study estimates the annual cost at $3,857 per household by 2020. Even proponents concede that it will have zero impact on global warming.

SMALL BUSINESS TAX:  California has a nasty anti-small business $800 minimum corporate income tax, even if no profit is earned, and even for many nonprofits. Next highest state is Oregon at $150. A few others under $100, with most at zero.

California small businesses failed in 2011 at a rate 69% higher than the national average — the worst state in the nation.
http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/19/smallbusiness/small_business_state_failure_rates/index.htm (based on Dunn & Bradstreet study)

CORPORATE INCOME TAX:  CA corporate income tax rate (8.84%) is the highest west of the Mississippi (our economic competitors) except for Alaska.
Ref. Table #1 – we are 5th highest in nation in per capita corporate tax collections.

BUSINESS TAX CLIMATE:  California’s 2013 “business tax climate” ranks 3rd worst in the nation – behind New Jersey and anchor-clanker New York state.

LEGAL ENVIRONMENT:  The American Tort Reform Association ranks CA the “worst judicial hellhole” in U.S. for 2nd year in a row – most anti-business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks CA higher – “only” the 4th worst state (unfortunately, sliding from 7th worst in 2008).

FINES AND FEES:  CA tickets are incredibly high. Red-light camera ticket $490. Next highest state is $250. Most are around $100.

CA needlessly licenses more occupations than any state – 177. Second worst state is Connecticut at 155. The average for the states is 92.

CA has the 3rd highest state workers compensation rates, up from 5th in 2010. CA had a 3.4% rate increase in 2013. http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/dir/wc_cost/files/report_summary.pdf

OVERALL TAXES:  Tax Foundation study ranks CA as the 4th worst taxed state. But if counting ONLY in-state and local taxes, we are arguably the 2nd highest. http://taxfoundation.org/article/annual-state-local-tax-burden-ranking-2010-new-york-citizens-pay-most-alaska-least

UNEMPLOYMENT:  CA has the 5th worst state unemployment rate (November, 2013) – 8.5%. National unemployment rate 7.0%. National unemployment rate not including CA is 6.8%, making the CA unemployment rate 25.1% higher than the average of the other 49 states (one of the better performances we’ve managed in several years).

Using the 3rd quarter 2013 U-6 measure of unemployment (includes involuntary part-time workers), CA is the 2nd worst (after Nevada) at 17.8% vs. national 14.1%. National U-6 not including CA is 13.6%, making CA’s U-6 30.9% higher than the average of the other 49 states.

EDUCATION:  CA public school teachers the 4th highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading.
http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2011/calfacts/calfacts_010511.aspx, page 36

California, a destitute state, still gives away community college education at fire sale prices. Our CC tuition is the lowest in the nation. How low? Nationwide, the average community college tuition is more than double our California CC’s.

This ridiculously low tuition devalues education to students – often resulting in a 25+% drop rate for class completion. In addition, up to 2/3 of California CC students pay no net tuition at all!

Complaints about increased UC student fees too often ignore one crucial point — all poor and many middle class students don’t pay the “fees” (our state’s euphemism for tuition). There are no fees for most California families with under $80K income.

WELFARE AND POVERTY:  1 in 5 in Los Angeles County receiving public aid. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-welfare22-2009feb22,0,4377048.story

California’s real poverty rate (the new census bureau standard) is by far the worst in the nation at 23.8%. We are 48.8% higher than the average for the other 49 states. Indeed, the CA poverty rate is 20.2% higher than 2nd place Nevada.
http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-247.pdf, page 13

California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 33% of the country’s TANF (“Temporary” Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients – more than the next 7 states combined. Unlike other states, this “temporary” assistance becomes much more permanent in CA.

California ranks 48th worst for credit card debt and 49th worst for percentage of home ownership.

GOVERNMENT INSOLVENCY:  California now has the 2nd lowest bond rating of any state – Basket case Illinois recently beat us out for the lowest spot. We didn’t improve our rating – Illinois just got worse.


Average California firefighter paid 60% more than ff’s in other 49 states. CA cops paid 56% more.

HOUSING COSTS:  Of 100 U.S. real estate markets, CA contains by far the least affordable middle class housing market (San Francisco). PLUS the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th. San Diego is #5 (w/homes avg. 1,056 sq. ft.) http://riderrants.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-us-least-affordable-housing-market

TRANSPORTATION COSTS:  CA has 2nd highest annual cost for owning a car – $3,966. $765 higher than the national average.

WATER & ELECTRICITY COSTS:  California residential electricity costs an average of 27.6% more per kWh than the national average. CA commercial rates are 44.4% higher. For industrial use, CA electricity is 74.4% higher than the national average (October, 2013). NOTE: SDG&E is even higher than the CA average! http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_06_a

A 2011 survey of home water bills for the 20 largest U.S. cities found that for 200 gallons a day usage, San Diego was the highest cost. At 400 gal/day, San Diego was third highest.

BUSINESS FLIGHT:  In 2012, our supply of California businesses shrunk 5.2%. In ONE year. NOTE: That’s a NET figure – 5.2% fewer businesses in CA in 2012 than were here in 2011. Indeed, in 2012, CA lost businesses at a 67.7% higher rate than the 2nd worst state!

736 top U.S. CEO’s surveyed rank California “the worst state in which to do business” for the 9th straight year (May, 2013). 24/7 Wall St. ranks CA the “worst run state” for 3rd yr.

From 2007 through 2010, 10,763 industrial facilities were built or expanded across the country — but only 176 of those were in CA. So with roughly 12% of the nation’s population, CA got 1.6% of the built or expanded industrial facilities.
(California Manufacturers and Technology Association podcast)

OUT-MIGRATION:  California is now ranked as the 2nd worst state to retire in. Only basket-case Illinois is worse. We “beat” NY, RI and NJ.

Consider California’s net domestic migration (migration between states). From 2000 through 2009, California lost a NET 1.5 million people. Net departures slowed in 2008 only because people couldn’t sell their homes. But more people still leave each year — in 2011 and again in 2012, we lost about 100,000 net people to domestic out-migration. Again, note that this is NET loss.

They are primarily the young, the educated, the productive, the ambitious, the wealthy – and retirees seeking to make their nest-eggs provide more bang for the buck.

Richard Rider is the chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters, a grassroots pro-taxpayer group. Rider successfully sued the county of San Diego (Rider vs. County of San Diego) to force a rollback of an illegal 1/2-cent jails sales tax, a precedent that saved California taxpayers over 14 billion dollars, including $3.5 billion for San Diego taxpayers. He has written ballot arguments against dozens of county and state tax increase initiatives and in 2009 was named the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s “California Tax Fighter of the Year.” Rider updates this compilation of statistics on California every month.

3 replies
  1. MendoChuck
    MendoChuck says:

    Well what do you know California leads the nation in several areas . . . .
    However are these actually where we want to be?


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