In a recent piece, Joel Fox reminds us of the 1996 Constitutional Revision Commission, on which he served.

He recalls the Commission’s recommendation to eliminate a number of California’s elected offices, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner, the Treasurer and the State Board of Equalization.  In the Commission’s plan, most of these positions would still exist, but the Governor rather than voters would choose who serves in them.

One might assume fewer elected officials would translated into significant savings for taxpayers. In some instances that may be the case.

But when it comes to taxes, and who we trust to administer them, Joel is 100% correct. It is imperative that whoever oversees California’s numerous tax and fee programs be directly accountable to voters.

The three letters, I, R and S, should prove my case.

But if that’s not enough, consider also the Franchise Tax Board. In response to a 2012 court decision, the agency is shaking down California investors and small businesses for $120 million plus interest. Their crime? Taking tax exemptions in good faith that the Legislature enacted years earlier to encourage investment and job growth in our state.

The FTB’s action is so outrageous that a bi-partisan coalition of lawmakers is pushing legislation to reverse it.

Tax agencies run by unelected bureaucrats are inherently dangerous to taxpayers. I’m reminded of this often as I interact with taxpayers who have been misunderstood or mistreated.

I work directly for these taxpayers, and they can contact me whenever they have a problem. I’m accountable to them. If they don’t receive fair tax treatment, they can vote me out of office.

Keep that in mind whenever someone suggests eliminating elected tax officials will save taxpayers money. When a revenue-hungry tax agency comes after you unfairly, who are you going to call?

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit