A spotlight has been put on the Board of Equalization, a state tax agency, that has been found wanting after a critical audit, enough so that the governor has clamped restrictions on the board. One idea that has re-surfaced in the wake of Board of Equalization examination is that the agency should be closed down. I agreed with that notion as a member of the California Constitution Revision Commission in 1996 but opposed the Commission’s final suggestion because I believe revenue officers should be elected.
The Board of Equalization is one of a number of tax collection agencies in the state. It was originally formed in the 1870s to equalize property tax assessments around the state. Four elected members plus the state controller make up the board. The total of four members was equivalent to the number to congressmen California sent to Washington in those days. While the state’s congressional delegation has grown dramatically since then, the board membership remained at it original total.