California’s Supreme Court has thrown cities—and citizens—into chaos over local taxes

taxesThe California Supreme Court has some explaining to do.

Late last year, the city of Oakland put a new land parcel tax on the books, after 62 percent of voters turned out to boost funding for public education. Now a local business group is suing the city, arguing that the new tax needed two-thirds of the vote — just over 66 percent — to pass.

San Francisco faces a similar problem, only twice as big. The city recently began collecting two new taxes: a gross receipts levy on commercial landlords to fund childcare services, and a land parcel tax to increase teacher pay. Last June, each received 51 and 61 percent of the vote respectively. The city is being sued twice.

And then there’s Fresno. After 52 percent of voters there opted to increase the city’s sales tax to fund park improvements, city leaders decided to play it safe and do nothing, noting that 52 percent is clearly less than 66. A local nonprofit took them to court for not collecting the new tax.

Sued if you do, sued if you don’t. The reason for all this fiscal confusion: the state’s highest court. …

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