Job Killer Proposes Multiple Tax Hikes on California Employers 

Jennifer Barrera
CalChamber Policy Advocate, Labor and Employment, Legal, Taxation

SB 567 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens) was identified by the California Chamber of Commerce as a job killer because it will significantly increase taxes on California businesses, who already have one of the highest tax burdens in the country.

Family-Owned Businesses Hurt

Specifically, SB 567 targets family-owned businesses that transfer the business upon death to other family members. Under SB 567, the family members who inherit the business/property, would be forced to pay capital gains on the property that has appreciated in value, if the family member(s) have an adjusted gross income of $1 million or more.

This change would take California out of conformity with federal law, and place another layer of taxes on a small group of Californians paying the highest personal income tax, at 13.3%.

Recent data from the Legislative Analyst’s Office indicates that the top 1% of income earners in California paid half of all income taxes received. These top income earners upon which the General Fund is so reliant, are also the same individuals who would be exposed to this tax increase under SB 567, and who have the most resources to change their residences to another state to avoid even higher taxes. California should not continue to target these high-earners with additional taxes, when they already contribute such a significant amount of revenue into the General Fund.

Harms Corporations

SB 567 also seeks to eliminate the current deduction allowed for compensation paid to executive officers for achieving performance-based goals. This proposal would harm all corporations, but more specifically, those companies incorporated in California.

While CEO compensation is an ever-popular debate topic, this legislation fails to recognize the enormous responsibility placed on these individuals to maintain or improve the success of a company that creates jobs for hundreds or thousands of workers, and value for thousands of shareholders, including pension funds.

This current deduction was created to allow companies to incentivize CEOS to achieve important performance goals for the benefit of the company, employees and shareholders.

The Internal Revenue Service already has strict guidelines on this deduction to prevent any abuses, including: (1) written, pre-established, objective performance goals that are substantially uncertain at the time the goal is established; (2) the goals are approved by a compensation committee comprised of two or more outside/independent directors; and, (3) the goals are also separately approved by shareholders. Eliminating this deduction for California publicly traded companies, would unfairly penalize companies incorporated in California.

Finally, California already has the highest personal income tax and sales tax rates in the country, and one of the highest corporate tax rates as well. Californians just approved various tax increases and extensions on the November 2016 ballot. Additionally, state appropriations may exceed the Proposition 4 (Gann) limit, which over the next two years may trigger significant tax reductions.

Substantially increasing California’s revenue again by targeting high earners and businesses, as proposed by SB 567, is punitive and will ultimately harm California’s economy and General Fund.

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