Maybe We Overdid It on the Whole Tax Thing, Californians Tell Pollsters


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Californians have shown a bit of a propensity for taxing the shit out of themselves and each other. Just a year and a half ago, voters in the Golden State went to the polls and approved a $6 billion tax hike with Proposition 30. This is a state that enthusiastically made its way to the Revenue Room at the House o' Pain and then promptly forgot its safe word.

Well, mostly. Maybe Californians are having second thoughts. While half of voters in the state call the tax system fair and majorities want to tighten the squeeze on corporations and "the wealthiest," a record 60 percent say they themselves are paying too much.

The results come in a wide-ranging poll (PDF) conducted last month by the Public Policy Institute of California. Asked, "Overall, how fair do you think our present state and local tax system is—would you say it is very fair, moderately fair, not too fair, or not at all fair?" 3 percent said "very fair" and 47 percent answered "moderately fair." The results were consistent across income groups, with 53 percent of those making over $80,000 agreeing with the 49 percent of Californians earning under $40,000 that the tax system is just swell.

Of those polled, 51 percent also said corporations should pay higher taxes and 63 percent called for raising the top income tax rate on the state's wealthiest residents.

But if Californians agree that the other guy should get it in the neck, they're all ready for a little mercy on their own behalf. Fifty-six percent of those making less than $40,000 say they're paying more than they should, 59 percent of those making between $40,000 and $80,000 agree, and 64 percent of those earning over $80,000 chime in with a "ditto."

Californians pay too much in taxes

Tax us more and harder, please. Whoah! But enough on me, already.

Last month, the financial site WalletHub published a state-by-state comparison of real estate tax, state income tax, local income tax, vehicle property tax, vehicle sales tax, sales and use tax, fuel tax, alcohol tax, food tax, and telecom tax. California comes just after New York as the most burdensome, tax-wise. It also ranks as the second worst state for overall freedom in Mercatus Center rankings.

Scott Shackford noted earlier today that all of that extra tax revenue is doing California little good—its economy still staggers along, with outstanding bills, such as $3 billion in required payments to the state teacher pension fund, essentially glossed over.

C'mon Californians. If you think hard, you'll rememember that safe word. Maybe it's "Jarvis."