Tell Your State Senator: Tax Fairness Is an Equity Priority

Making our tax system fair should be a top priority for people who care about shaping an equitable California — where revenue comes from can impact equity just as much as where we choose to invest it. And at a time when California is searching for new revenue to make up for cuts in education, housing, and the social safety net,  a new coalition of civil rights, religious, community, and labor groups is dedicated to rebuilding our state by working to close tax loopholes and make the commercial property tax system more fair.

Make It Fair has determined that the best way to create a revenue stream for the state to help close gaps in funding for essential programs and expand opportunity is to assess commercial and industrial property at fair market value. Taking this step will close loopholes and ensure that big corporations and wealthy commercial properties pay their fair share of property taxes.

Indeed, a recent report by the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) found that reassessing commercial property at its current value would generate up to $9 billion in additional revenue each year for our state. This is based on recalculating the current market value of land owned by companies like Chevron, whose Richmond refinery was last assessed almost 40 years ago. Right now Chevron is paying taxes on the 1978 value of that land — not what it’s worth today. Statewide, Chevron’s underassessment alone shortchanges our communities by $100 million every year.

State Senators Loni Hancock and Holly Mitchell recently introduced an amendment to the state constitution that will correct this loophole. Act now by contacting your state senator today and expressing support for Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (find out who your senator is by clicking on this link).

Going up against big companies and wealthy commercial property owners will be a challenge. But the large amount of money at stake can help increase equitable investment in California’s low-income communities and communities of color and will make a real difference for kids, seniors, and our shared future.  

Learn more about Make It Fair and add your name to the growing list of endorsers.

Read the rest of the Summer 2015 California Equity Quarterly issue>>>