George Runner

My Turn: An excise tax on marijuana could make sense

California lawmakers are finally considering legislation to regulate medical marijuana, which has been legal under state law for nearly two decades. Among the proposals is a bill calling for an excise tax on marijuana that could raise nearly $60 million in revenue each year. As a fiscal conservative and opponent of recreational marijuana, I’m an […]

My turn: The fire fee shell game: You lose!

Democrats in the California Legislature seem to be facing the reality that the fire tax they passed with the governor’s help in 2011 is unfair. Californians who live in rural areas rely on a range of public services from multiple levels of government to combat fires. These residents already pay taxes to fund essential fire […]

My turn: Tax hikes look silly as state gets financial windfall

It must be silly season in Sacramento. As the state receives billions in unanticipated revenues, liberal tax-and-spend lawmakers are proposing massive tax hikes, proving once again that they are out of touch with reality. One key measure of reality ignored by liberal lawmakers is Tax Freedom Day. Calculated annually by the Tax Foundation, Tax Freedom […]

My turn: Should green car drivers feel guilty?

If you own a hybrid or electric vehicle, you probably feel pretty good about yourself. After all, you’ve made a socially responsible decision to help the environment, reduce your carbon footprint and improve air quality. But you might feel a bit guilty, too. After all, you are in part responsible for the poor condition of […]

Runner says true tax reform would lead to a brighter California

SACRAMENTO — During a discussion at the 2015 Cal Tax Annual Members meeting, Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner called for a meaningful public discourse on tax reform ideas that makes life easier for taxpayers. Runner suggested replacing California’s income tax with a sales tax on services. “If you want real tax reform, we […]

My turn: Shouldn’t California have the best roads by now?

If high taxes guaranteed results, then California should have some of the best roads in the nation. For years we’ve had one of the highest gas taxes, yet our freeways consistently receive failing grades. It makes no sense unless you admit that high taxes don’t guarantee good roads. That’s one of many reasons I had […]

Runner sponsors legislation to refund illegal taxes

SACRAMENTO — Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner announced Feb. 27 he is sponsoring legislation to extend common sense protections to taxpayers. Assembly Bill 867, authored by Assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine), would require the state to provide a full refund to all individuals who paid a tax later declared unconstitutional or illegal. AB 867 […]

Fourth round of Fire Fee bills begins mailing

SACRAMENTO — Fire Prevention Fee bills for fiscal year 2014-15 began mailing this week to more than 700,000 rural Californians, many of whom are receiving a bill for the fourth time. “It’s extremely frustrating that a law this wrong continues to take money from the pockets of rural Californians year after year,” said George Runner […]

Runner responds to gas tax vote

George Runner issued the following statement after a 5-0 Board of Equalization vote to reduce the state’s gasoline excise tax rate by 6 cents, from 36 cents to 30 cents, effective July 1 of this year: “This gas tax cut, although less than originally proposed, is still good news for overtaxed Californians, who currently pay […]

My turn: California needs a simpler gas tax, not a higher one

With prices at the pump heading back up, news of a cut to the state’s gas tax will surely cheer California drivers. On Feb.24, the State Board of Equalization approved a 6 cent per gallon cut to the state’s gas tax. The change, which will take effect July 1, is based on a complicated formula […]

My turn: Falling gas prices mask hidden tax

So why is it that while other states are now enjoying gas prices of less than $2 per gallon, California is still paying higher prices? Due to high taxes and costly regulations, our state’s gas prices are higher than other states. It’s been that way for years. But what’s new is that the gap between […]

State gas consumption rises

SACRAMENTO — California’s gasoline consumption rose 0.9 percent during fiscal year 2013-14, the first increase in eight fiscal years, since 2005-06 — offering another sign of an improving economy — according to data released by the California State Board of Equalization). During fiscal year 2013-14, diesel consumption rose 3.7 percent, up sharply from a 0.4 […]

California returning millions to business owners

This spring thousands of business owners throughout California are receiving a welcome surprise in their mailbox. Rather than a notice of a new tax, fee or audit, they’re getting a check from the State Board of Equalization. No, we’re not talking about annual income tax refunds from the Franchise Tax Board. These checks are marked […]

My turn: California’s gas tax nightmare

California taxpayers don’t have to fall sleep to have a nightmare. They experience one each and every day when they encounter a costly, confusing and constantly-changing tax system. Unfortunately, most efforts to change this system only make matters worse. Take the gas tax, for instance. California consumers currently pay 71 cents per gallon in taxes […]

My turn: Windfall could tempt legislature to repeat past spending mistakes

We’ve all heard dramatic stories of lottery winners acquiring hundreds of millions of dollars only to declare bankruptcy a few years later. In fact, studies show 70 percent of all individuals who suddenly receive large amounts of money will lose it in a short period of time. The cause of this problem is impulse spending […]

My turn: Responsible budget would eliminate fire fee

In the middle of California’s driest winter on record and following an active fire season, our state must provide the firefighting services Californians need and expect. That’s why I recently sent a letter to Gov. Brown urging him to eliminate the controversial (and probably illegal) Fire Prevention Fee. I also asked him to restore full […]

February 08, 2014 | Posted in Opinion | 1 Reply

Retroactive tax fix applauded

Board of Equalization Member George Runner issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s signing of Assembly Bill 1412, which fully reversed a controversial Franchise Tax Board staff decision to seek millions in retroactive taxes from California taxpayers: “It’s no secret I’ve been highly critical of the Franchise Tax Board’s decision to assess five […]

My turn: Taxpayers speak out against unjust fire tax

For the second time in as many years, the state of California is mailing hundreds of thousands of fire tax bills to rural Californians who live in the so-called State Responsibility Area. The bills are hitting mailboxes even as the class action lawsuit I’m backing has finally received a green light to move forward. As […]

Runner: 1% pay 50% of income taxes

SACRAMENTO – George Runner June 14 issued the following statement in response to the Legislature’s approval of a budget: “The Legislature should be commended for approving an on-time budget and exercising some measure of restraint. “However, the success of this budget hinges on the decisions of a very small number of overtaxed Californians, their continued […]

My turn: Obama steals Jerry Brown’s playbook

Given California’s chronic problems, it’s hard to imagine anyone sees our state as a model — but it’s clear the Obama administration does. And to make matters worse, President Obama is now using schemes from California’s playbook in his bid to impose our failures on the rest of the nation. Much like Sacramento, Washington is […]

My turn: Fire fee 2.0: Six times worse?

Better late than never, California lawmakers seem to be waking up to the reality that the illegal “Fire Prevention Fee” they enacted nearly two years ago is a complete fiasco. Even so, they are refusing to repeal it. Instead they are scheming up ways to replace the tax with yet another tax that’s even bigger […]

My turn: California can’t tax itself to prosperity

Last year California voters approved two tax increases aimed at bringing billions more dollars into state coffers. But that hasn’t stopped revenue-hungry lawmakers in the Legislature from seeking further tax hikes. It’s almost as if they think we can tax ourselves into prosperity. A recent example of this type of confused thinking is the oil […]

Fire fee lawsuit received by state

SACRAMENTO – According to George Runner, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association March 12 formally served the California State Board of Equalization, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Department of Justice with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s “Fire Prevention Fee.” “The wheels of justice grind slowly, but I’m pleased that this vitally important lawsuit […]

Runner votes ‘no’ on gas tax hike

SACRAMENTO – George Runner issued the following statement Feb. 28 regarding his vote against raising the state’s fuel tax rate by 3.5 cents per gallon, effective July 1, 2013: “I cannot support a more than half a billion dollar tax increase on struggling Californians who are already experiencing significant pain at the pump.” Elected in […]

My turn: California bullet tax would backfire

If you want to grow government these days, it seems the fashionable thing to do is invent new taxes. Two years ago, legislators conjured up an illegal fire “fee.” Last year, they invented a confusing new lumber tax. Two voter-approved multi-billion dollar tax hikes later, and the politicians still want more of your money. This […]

My turn: New California tax targets lumber purchasers

You’ve likely heard that in November California voters approved higher sales and income taxes. But there’s another tax hike taking effect Jan. 1 that may catch many Californians by surprise. Late this summer — even before the recent election — two‐ thirds of the Legislature approved and the governor signed legislation imposing a new “Lumber […]

Many online sellers don’t have to collect sales tax

SACRAMENTO – George Runner Nov. 26 responded to confusion surrounding Cyber Monday sales and California’s new online sales tax law (AB 155) by clarifying that not all retailers must collect tax. “Some reports have suggested that all online sellers must now collect California sales tax,” said Runner. “That’s a gross overstatement that creates needless confusion […]

Record gas tax revenue

SACRAMENTO – George Runner announced recently that California motorists paid a record $8.3 billion in state and local fuel taxes during the 2011-12 fiscal year. “Our latest numbers show that high gas prices resulted in a record windfall for government at the expense of California consumers,” said Runner. “It’s bad enough that California’s gas tax […]

Oct. sales tax collections strong

SACRAMENTO – George Runner announced Nov. 9 that the state Board of Equalization collected $1.86 billion in general fund sales and use tax revenue last month, surpassing the state’s $1.74 billion budget estimate. “This is good news for the State of California,” said Runner. “Let’s hope that stronger tax revenues are a reflection of a […]

New study shows Californians overtaxed

SACRAMENTO – George Runner recently highlighted a new report by the Tax Foundation showing that the average Californian’s tax burden worsened in 2010. “At a time when Californians could least afford it, our state and local tax burden was among the highest in the nation,” said Runner. “This new report provides further proof that by […]

Runner applauds fire tax lawsuit

SACRAMENTO – George Runner today issued the following statement in response to a class action lawsuit filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: “As one of California’s elected tax officials, it’s my responsibility to use my elected office to ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly. “Accordingly, I commend the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for bringing […]

My turn: A duty and an honor

As your elected member of the California State Board of Equalization, I’m fighting to protect your taxpayer rights and bring about fair tax policies that help grow our economy and jobs. As always, I welcome your ideas about how we can work together to solve the problems facing our state. According to a recent AP […]

My turn: What’s next? A crime prevention fee?

A fire tax bill is coming soon to a mailbox near you. It’s not fair; it’s not constitutional, but thanks to Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature, the bills are coming all the same. On Aug. 13, the State of California began mailing the first of more than 825,000 “Fire Prevention Fee” bills to Californians […]

George Runner: July sales tax revenues didn’t plummet

SACRAMENTO – George Runner reported Aug. 24 that sales and use tax revenues received by the state Board of Equalization in July narrowly exceeded budget projections. “Contrary to what you may have heard, the sky is not falling in California — at least not as it pertains to sales tax revenue,” said Runner. “I’m pleased […]

My turn: Tax hikes don’t level the playing field

I can think of a lot of things that might help level the playing field for California businesses. A billion dollar tax hike isn’t one of them. But supporters of Speaker Perez’s legislation, AB 1500, would have you believe otherwise. In 2009, the Legislature adopted a tax cut that actually did help level the playing […]

My turn: Gov. Brown’s budget head fake

If you fall for an opponent’s head fake in sports, you risk losing the game. The stakes are much higher for taxpayers. If they fall for the Governor’s head fake this November, the price tag could be as high as $50 billion dollars by 2019. Don’t be fooled. The Governor and Legislature have for months […]

Runner says budget will be decided by voters

SACRAMENTO – George Runner issued the following statement today in response the Legislature’s completion of the budget process: “If the governor had the courage, he would send this budget back and demand the Legislature send him a fully vetted plan that is truly balanced, contains real reform and spurs job creation in our state. “The […]

My turn: Tax hike for California college scholarships: It’s a false hope

In its April 23 editorial, “A college bargain for Californians,” The L.A. Times ponders what the state might do with “an extra billion dollars a year.” After considering various possibilities, the editorial acquiesces to a proposal from Sacramento that even it admits is flawed. But before you spend this money, you have to collect it. […]

Runner announces Sen. Dutton to author gas tax cap

By George Runner Board of Equalization Board of Equalization Member George Runner announced April 11 that Sen. Bob Dutton will introduce retired Sen. Runner’s proposal to cap the gas tax. “Sen. Dutton is stepping forward to fight for California consumers who are sick of high gas prices,” said Runner. “Lawmakers like to complain about high […]

My turn: Time to cap California’s rising fuel taxes

It certainly won’t make the experience any less painful, but next time you fill up your gas tank, try figuring out how much you just paid in taxes. Do the math, and you’ll soon discover that rising fuel prices are a whole lot better for the government than they are for you. California consumers pay […]

My turn: Californians reject higher taxes for a reason

In Jerry Brown’s California, you have two choices: Embrace the governor’s agenda, or become the object of ridicule. In his State of the State address, Brown contrasted “declinists” who see California as a “failed state” with him and others who see “unspent potential and incredible opportunity.” The implication being that those who support his proposals […]

February 08, 2012 | Posted in Opinion | Tagged | 4 Replies

My turn: New tax interpretation aids farm solar power

As an elected member of the California State Board of Equalization, I have the unique privilege of serving as a taxpayer advocate for the citizens of California. California is the only state in the nation that has an elected tax board that is directly accountable to voters. The five-member board on which I serve administers […]

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