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Contra Costa Taxpayers Association

Issue Updates & Blog

  • 18 Dec 2012 10:41 PM | Deleted user
    Following passage of AB 340 last fall -- aka Governor Brown's pension reform -- Contra Costa County's Firefighter and Deputy Sheriff's unions filed a lawsuit challenging provisions that would end pension "spiking" practices involving vacation payouts.  It is not clear who, if anyone, will defend the law against the suit.  

    Read more here.  

  • 02 Nov 2012 9:05 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    California's U-6 (Unemployment/Underemployment) is a whopping 19.6%. We are #2 in the nation behind Nevada which is at 21.4%.


  • 12 Oct 2012 3:15 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    While much is made of the unemployment number, a better measure of the jobs picture is the Bureau of Labor's U-6 index, which includes those who are unemployed, discouraged workers, and those who are working part time.  For purposes of being considered as "employed" you can work as little as one hour a week, but that would still make you "underemployed" if you are seeking additional hours.  

    For the record, California's U-6 20.3% unemployment rate is number two in the nation. Only Nevada at 22.1% has a higher U-6. North Dakota has the lowest U-6 at only 6.1%.

    You can find a great chart of the various categories of unemployment at: http://www.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm

  • 12 Oct 2012 2:11 PM | Deleted user

    You may have heard the term “Taxmageddon” but do not know what it signifies. Taxmageddon is the name given to what is currently scheduled to be the largest tax hike in our history.

    If nothing is done by Congress, here are just some of the tax changes will go into effect on January 1, 2013:

    • The current 2% reduction in Social Security payroll contributions by the employee will end. That is a major tax increase (although the already unfunded Social Security fund needs the cash inflow.)
    • Medicare payroll tax is currently a flat 2.9% on all wages and self-employment profit. But beginning 2013, those with earnings or self-employment over $200,000 the rate becomes 3.8%.
    • Personal income tax rates will rise on January 1, 2013
    • The 10% bracket is expanded and increased to 15%
    • The 25% bracket becomes 28%
    • The 28% bracket becomes 31%
    • The 33% bracket becomes 36%
    • The 35% bracket becomes 39.6%
    • The child tax credit will be reduced to $500 from the current $1000 per child.
    • The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.
    • The estate tax changes drastically: Currently the estate tax is 35% with an exemption of $5 million. On January 1, the tax rate becomes 55% on amounts over a million.
    • Capital gains tax will rise from 15% to 23.8%.
    • The dividends tax will rise from 15% to 43.4% because of scheduled rate hikes plus Obamacare’s investment surtax.
    • Medical Device Tax: Companies making medical devices retailing for over $100 with impose a 2.3% excise tax on gross sales (not net of costs).
    • Flexible spending accounts will be capped at $2500 where the amount now is unlimited. For those with known expensive medical needs this will be a problem.
    • The deductibility of those with large medical expenses will change. Currently medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) are deductible. That 7.5% hurdle jumps to 10% of AGI. Those 65 or older will enjoy a waiver from the change for the period 2013-2016.
    • Businesses will have to depreciate equipment purchases over a number of years instead of enjoying a short expensing period as they have now.
    • The “research and experimentation tax credit” disappears.
    • Tax credits for education will be limited.
    • Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.
    • Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed.
    • Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed.

    Compiled by Kris Hunt, Executive Director, CoCoTAX from material by Americans for Tax Reform.

  • 11 Oct 2012 12:27 PM | Deleted user

    The consumer price index (CPI) figure was released in August by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These numbers are used to determine next year's tax bracket. Even though taxpayers will not start filing their 2013 tax returns until January 2014, tax year 2013 parameters are needed in advance of 2013 so that the IRS can produce instructions for 2013 income tax withholding, says Nick Kasprak, a programmer and analyst at the Tax Foundation.

    Projecting the tax brackets is more complicated than normal given the uncertainty regarding the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as well as tax cuts in the stimulus bill. However, Kasprak projects next year's tax brackets under different scenarios with a high degree of certainty.

    • If the Bush tax cuts expire, the tax rate for the lowest income bracket will be 15 percent and the rate for the highest income bracket will be 39.6 percent.
    • However, if the Bush tax cuts are extended under H.R. 8, then the rate for the lowest income bracket will be 10 percent and the rate for the highest income bracket will be 35 percent.

    But if Obama's 2013 budget gets approved, it would allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for only upper income payers.

    • The rates for the lowest income bracket would be 10 percent whereas the highest earners would still have a tax rate of 39.6 percent.
    • Head of Household filers in the second highest income bracket will have a tax rate of 36 percent compared to a 33 percent tax rate if the Bush tax cuts are extended.

    H.R. 8, the proposal that would extend the Bush tax cuts and Obama's 2013 budget, takes different approaches to several taxes and deductions that are set to be patched or expired in the upcoming year.

    • The personal exemption will rise by $100 to $3,900 regardless of what happened to the Bush tax cuts. However, for married filers, the standard deduction could decrease if the Bush tax cuts are extended.
    • The Personal Exemption Phase-Out and PEASE (named for former Senator Donald Pease) are provisions that phase out tax benefits for upper income taxpayers. Both disappeared in 2010, however if the Bush tax cuts expire, both provisions would return next year.
    • Finally, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) would have an exemption at $50,600 for single filers and $79,850 for married filers if H.R. 8 passes. But Obama's budget would permanently index the AMT for inflation and set the exemption at $48,450 for single filers and $74,450 for married filers.

    Source: Nick Kasprak, "Next Year's Tax Brackets," Tax Foundation, October 1, 2012; National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • 07 Oct 2012 9:18 PM | Deleted user
    • 64.5 cents per gallon
    • Highest in the U.S.
    • 7.25%
    • Highest in the U.S.
    • 9.3% (kicks in at $48,029)
    • 10.3% over $1 million
    • 2nd highest in the U.S.
    • 8.84%
    • 8th highest in the U.S.
    • 10th highest in the U.S.
    • 3rd worst in the U.S.
    • 6th highest in the U.S.
    • 8th worst in the U.S.

    Source:  taxfoundation.org; American Petroleum Institute
  • 02 Aug 2012 4:28 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    Just when you think you are taxed to the max, local politicians have another plan.  Many of these items have worthy goals (there are certainly exceptions), but local governments seem to be out of touch with California’s reality.  We have an unemployment/underemployment rate of 20.3%.  That makes us #2 in the nation, behind Nevada. We may be entering a second recession and adding these tax burdens (plus the state’s tax plans) most would say would not be a good thing for the economy.

    Presumably Moraga and Orinda rushed  to get their sales taxes on the books before the Governor’s sales tax passes (if it does).  Pinole with the Utility Users Tax extension proves the old age that nothing is as permanent as a “temporary” tax.  Keep that in mind whenever a governmental entity brags about a “sunset” clause.  If there is no intention of a real sunset then they are just a stepping stone in the path to a permanent tax. In that regard, kudos to Moraga for saying they need their sales tax for 20 years to fix roads, but at the same time the authorization to incur debt to speed up projects………may or may not be a good thing - most people will miss that statement in the measure.

    This is not a complete list, there is at least one bond measure for San Ramon Schools, but this gives everyone a heads up of what will be on the local ballots: Local Measures as of August 1 2012.docx

  • 30 Jul 2012 7:52 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    The Fire Protection District Board meets Tuesday to vote on a proposed $75 parcel tax.  However, the decision may have been made a year ago according to the document sent to Vince Wells of IAFF Local 2030 Representative. 

    That document written by County Administrator David Twa (attached 7-28-11 Memo to Vince Wells.pdf) reads: "On behalf of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, it is my understanding that the Board will make its best efforts to place a parcel tax proposal on the ballot prior to December 2012, relative to the Contra Costa Fire Protection District."

  • 25 Jul 2012 3:07 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    With both Stockton and now San Bernadino pushing off pension obligation bond debt - how will this impact the market for public bonds?  http://www.pensiontsunami.com/
  • 25 Jul 2012 12:27 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    While it is called a soda tax - it is not limited to soda (to anything that has a form of sugar in it) and it is handled as a business licesnse fee RICHMOND BUSINESS LICENSE FEE.pdf  that will be calculated on the amount of sugared beverages sold.  This makes it easier on the seller in that the many items that include sugar will not have to receive a special sku number or tracked individually. It would be a logistics nightmare for the seller.

    From the perspective of the taxpayer - realistically even if you don't buy sugared drinks, the cost will likely be passed on to you rather than the actual purchaser of sugared drinks.  If the objective was to curb consumption of sugary drinks - this is not the way to go.

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