Gaines legislation aims to cancel fire tax for natural disaster victims

By From page A3 | January 08, 2014

SACRAMENTO — In his continued efforts to fight against the illegal fire tax, Senator Ted Gaines on Jan. 7 introduced legislation that would exempt anyone who has lost a home to a wildfire or other natural disaster from paying the tax.

“I don’t want insult added to injury,” said Gaines. “The state should be helping families who have lost everything in these catastrophes, not billing them for homes that no longer exist.”

Senate Bill 832 would cancel the “fire tax” for anyone who owns a property within a State Responsibility Area (SRA) that has been destroyed, or significantly damaged, as a result of a natural disaster.

The fire tax is an annual levy imposed on the owners of more than 800,000 properties in the state that are within the boundaries of SRA. According to census and Cal Fire data, Gaines’ largely rural district includes roughly 20-percent or approximately 160,000 of the properties whose owners are subject to the fee.

SB 832 was inspired by the Clover Fire that burned more than 8,000 acres southwest of Redding last fall. According to Cal Fire, 68 residences and 128 outbuildings were destroyed; five residences and 10 outbuildings were damaged as well. The effects of this fire will be felt by the residents for years to come and Gaines does not want them billed.

“I have fought this illegal tax at every turn. I have been saying that it will do nothing to keep people and property safe and the recent Clover Fire was further proof,” said Gaines. “This bill will make it clear going forward that if you lose your home to a wildfire, you won’t owe the tax. It’s that simple.”

Gaines has been a leading critic of the tax and introduced numerous pieces of legislation last year that attempted to provide relief for rural Californians. Unfortunately, none were successful, but this is a clear-cut case, according to the senator, “This is not politics, it’s common sense. The tax is levied on habitable structures. These homeowners wish that’s what they still had.”

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.

Ted Gaines

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