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Economy and Taxes Publications

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Handout

The 2021-22 Budget: Golden State Stimulus

January 22, 2021 - This handout provides an overview of the Governor's budget proposal to provide a one-time $600 refund to certain low-income workers, evaluates the Governor's proposal, and provides a more targeted alternative for the Legislature to consider.

Handout

The 2021-22 Budget: Small Business Grants

January 22, 2021 - This handout assesses the Governor's proposal to expand a recently created small business grants program by $575 million.

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The 2020-21 Spending Plan: Tax Changes

October 5, 2020 - The 2020‑21 budget package included several tax policy changes. Overall, the budget package assumes these changes will result in a net revenue increase of about $4 billion in 2020‑21. Starting in 2023‑24, the net effect of these changes are expected to reduce revenues below what they otherwise would have been.

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An Update on California’s Cash Management Situation

August 31, 2020 - Provides an update on California’s cash management situation, including recent developments in spring 2020 and the outlook for 2020-21.

Handout

Overview of Initiative Measure to Change Tax Assessment of Commercial Property

June 4, 2020 - Assembly Committee on Local Government and Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation

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The 2020-21 May Revision: Revenue Proposals in the 2020-21 May Revision

May 20, 2020 - The May Revision includes a number of revenue-related proposals. This post describes these proposals and offers our initial comments and recommendations. We also offer alternative revenue options that the Legislature could consider.

Report

Assessing Recent Changes to California Competes

March 30, 2020 - California Competes is an economic development tax incentive program that allows the administration to negotiate tax credit agreements with individual companies that agree to meet multiyear hiring and investment targets. In this report we provide background information about the California Competes program and the changes that the Legislature made in 2018. Next, we describe the effects of these changes on the program in 2018‑19, the first year of their implementation. We then assess how the changes have affected the administration of the California Competes program and consider whether it is more or less effective than before. Lastly, looking forward, we suggest working to find ways to expand the pool of qualified applicants and advise the Legislature to continue its oversight of the program.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Expanding the Minimum Franchise Tax Exemption

March 23, 2020 - In this budget analysis brief, we provide background information on the current tax expenditure and assess the merits of the administration’s proposal to expand it. We conclude that the Legislature should reject the Governor’s proposal. We further suggest the Legislature reconsider the current exemption.

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The 2020-21 Budget: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA)

March 20, 2020 - The Governor’s 2020-21 budget includes proposals related to CDTFA’s administration of cannabis taxes, tobacco taxes, and fuel taxes. In this post, we discuss some budget reductions included in the cannabis and tobacco proposals, and we assess the adequacy of the fuel tax proposal.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Taxation of E-Cigarettes

February 24, 2020 - In this report, we discuss issues for the Legislature to consider as it decides whether to change the state’s approach to taxing e‑cigarettes. We find that a tax based on nicotine content has some advantages. We also suggest that the Legislature consider a wide range of possible tax rates. Once the Legislature has chosen a rate, we recommend indexing the rate to inflation and revisiting it frequently to assess whether further adjustments are warranted. If the Legislature chooses to enact a new tax on e‑cigarettes, we recommend that it take an approach to revenue allocation that prioritizes flexibility.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

January 13, 2020 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s budget. We estimate the Governor had a $6 billion surplus to allocate to discretionary purposes in 2020-21. The Governor allocates most of the surplus toward one-time purposes, including maintaining a positive year-end balance in the state’s discretionary reserve. Under the administration’s estimates, total reserves would reach $20.5 billion at the end of 2020-21—this represents a $1.7 billion increase from the 2019-20 enacted level. California continues to enjoy a healthy fiscal situation. Despite its positive near-term picture, the budget’s multiyear outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. In addition to describing the condition of the budget under the Governor’s proposal, this report discusses tools the Legislature can use to mitigate against these heightened risks.

January 20, 2020: Upon further review, one item included in the original version of Appendix Figure 3 on discretionary on health spending should not have been included (specfically, use of the Medi-Cal drug rebate fund to offset General Fund costs). Removing this item—which reduces General Fund spending—from the list of discretionary choices made in the Governor’s budget increases our calculation of the surplus to $6 billion. The document is updated to reflect these changes.

Update 1/24/20: Adjusted Judicial Branch items in Appendix Figure 1 to reflect ongoing spending.

Report

How High? Adjusting California’s Cannabis Taxes

December 17, 2019 - In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the nonmedical use of cannabis (typically called recreational or adult use) and created a structure for regulating and taxing it. In this report we provide (1) background information on cannabis and its legalization in California, (2) a discussion of the effects of adjusting the tax rate, (3) an assessment of other potential changes to California’s cannabis tax structure, and (4) recommendations for the Legislature.

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A Key Interaction Between Sales Taxes and Other Taxes on Cannabis Retailers

December 17, 2019 - In this post, we discuss a key interaction between sales taxes and other taxes on cannabis retailers—in particular, local business taxes. Due to this opaque, counterintuitive interaction, the overall tax rate on cannabis is slightly higher than it appears to be. We recommend that the Legislature make statutory changes to address this issue.

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Comparing Taxes on Cannabis to Taxes on Other Products in California

December 17, 2019 - In this post, we describe some of the similarities and differences between taxes on cannabis and taxes on other products in California. Our estimates suggest that taxes on certain cannabis products are roughly comparable to taxes on distilled spirits but much higher than taxes on beer and wine. California’s state and local governments generally tax cannabis—including medical cannabis—more heavily than other medicines. In some instances, however, exemptions can make tax rates on medical cannabis comparable to tax rates on other medicines.

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The 2019-20 Budget: California Spending Plan—Conformity

October 17, 2019 - This post describes the 2019-20 budget actions changing state individual and business tax provisions (partial tax conformity).

Economy and Taxes Staff

Chas Alamo
(916) 319-8357
Personal Income Tax, Employment, and Labor Law
 
Ross Brown
(916) 319-8345
Property Taxes, Bonds, and the Economy
 
Ann Hollingshead
(916) 319-8305
State Budget and Federal Funding
 
Nick Schroeder
(916) 319-8314
Public Employment, CalPERS, Elections, Veterans Affairs
 
Brian Uhler
(916) 319-8328
Deputy Legislative Analyst: Economy, Taxes, and Labor
 
Seth Kerstein
(916) 319-8365
Sales and Excise Taxes and Demographics