And read how the LA Times spins it as “not a tax increase”:
Reporting from Los Angeles and Sacramento – Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners — holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.
Technically, it’s not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers’ annual tax bills won’t change.
Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You’ll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.
But with rising gas costs, depressed home prices and double-digit unemployment, the state’s added reach into residents’ regular paycheck isn’t sitting well with many.
“The state’s suddenly slapping people upside the head,” said Mack Reed, 50, of Silver Lake. “It’s appalling how brash that is.”
Brittney McKaig, 23, of Santa Ana said she expects the additional withholding to affect her holiday spending.
“Coming into the holidays, we’re getting squeezed anyway,” she said. “We’re not getting Christmas bonuses and other perks we used to get. So it all falls back on spending. The $40 gift will become a $20 gift.”
The extra withholding may seem like a small amount siphoned from each paycheck, but it adds up to a $1.7-billion fix for California’s deficit-riddled books.
From a single taxpayer earning $51,000 a year with no dependents, the state will be grabbing an extra $17.59 each month, according to state tax officials. A married person earning $90,000 with two dependents would receive $24.87 less in monthly pay.
McQ cuts through what sounds like state-sponsored spin from the LAT:
You’ll get a “larger” refund if the state has the money to pay refunds. Weren’t they issuing IOUs not long ago? But that’s not the point. The state has just made it clear that it has first claim on what Californians earn. If that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of them, I’m not sure what will.
I like Ed Morrissey’s solution:
This all starts with state leadership unwilling to make the tough decisions on cutbacks in the massive state bureaucracy. Instead of cutting their own budgets, they’re cutting the personal budgets of all Californians by seizing their assets without compensation. Golden State residents should ask themselves why they put up with a group of politicians who claim to be unable to reduce state spending but have no problem dipping into the pockets of Californians who actually work for a living.
Next November, Californians should conduct a full-unemployment program in their state legislature, and “withhold” 100% of the salaries of the current political class.
Man oh man – I would love to see that. I know the minority of conservatives who have lived in CA for years and have fought for a smaller government and lower taxes would even more. But with California being a liberal state, it means that a majority of bleeding heart lefties would have to have had enough of the state ripping off its hard working citizens – including its lefty citizens – to throw out any state legislator up for re-election next year who went along with approving this highway robbery.
Will they? ST reader and LA resident Anthony isn’t so sure:
Sacramento’s irresponsibility and unwillingness to face reality is appalling. These are people we elected to run the state for the best interests of all, yet they continually mortgage our future and dig an ever deeper fiscal hole, refusing to make the admittedly harsh spending and tax cuts needed to begin to restore California to financial health. Instead they pander to the public employees unions ( the prison guards, for example) and other left-wing single-interest groups that live off the taxpayer and in turn are big donors to legislators’ election campaigns. So they kick the can down the road, pretend that “this time, we’ve fixed the problem” and hope that no one remembers the next time it happens.
California’s political culture is sick, and its public servants instead constitute a ruling class. This is not a democratic republic: thanks to safe seats and special-interest donors, our state government is instead a self-perpetuating oligarchy of professional politicians. This farce with accelerated withholding is just another example of how out of touch with the average Californians the Mandarins of the Golden Dome have become.
If California is to have any Hope, it’s time for a major Change.
Stay tuned …
Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.