Tax Reform

California voters on Nov. 8 will consider a ballot initiative that would tax cigarettes by an additional $2 per pack. They also will weigh a separate income tax increase on some of the state’s highest earners.

Capitol Alert
By Christopher Cadelago
September 26, 2016 – 8:00 PM

California’s likely voters solidly support a fall initiative to extend higher income taxes on top earners, while a separate proposal to boost state taxes on tobacco is clinging to a majority vote, according to a new survey released Monday.

The statewide Field/IGS Poll found Proposition 55, which would prolong for a dozen years 2012 income tax increases on some of the state’s highest-earning residents, was leading by 2-to-1 among likely voters, 60 percent to 30 percent. Proposition 56, a bid to hike by $2 a pack state taxes on cigarettes, is drawing the backing of 53 percent of voters. Forty percent oppose the tax increase, and 7 percent remain undecided.

Proposition 57, a criminal justice initiative advanced by Gov. Jerry Brown and supported by state Democrats, is backed by a clear majority.

Both tax measures are variations of past efforts in California. Proposition 55 grew out of the successful Proposition 30 initiative pushed by Brown and teachers unions and enacted by voters in 2012.

The latest attempt allows the sales tax portion to expire in 2016 and extends until 2030 income tax increases on roughly 1.5 percent of residents. For example, a single person making $300,000 would continue to pay an extra 1 percent on their income between $263,000 and $300,000.

With six weeks to go before the Nov. 8 election, poll director Mark DiCamillo said the income tax increase, with majority support from every subgroup except Republicans and conservatives, benefits by maintaining the state’s progressive tax structure. Voters are saying, ‘As long as it doesn’t affect me, you can extend the tax increase,’ ” DiCamillo said.

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