Annual Report 2011-2012


Revenues and Operations

Property Taxes

California property tax levies for fiscal year 2011-12 totaled $49.0 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent from the previous year's total of $48.9 billion. County-assessed property values increased $59.7 billion from 2011-12 to reach $4.4 trillion for the 2012-13 tax year.

According to law, the BOE set the values of state assessed properties, primarily privately owned public utilities and railroads, at $87.2 billion for the 2012-13 roll. This was a $1.9 billion increase from 2011-12 values. State-assessed properties produced an estimated $947 million in local property tax revenues for the state’s 58 counties in 2011-12.

For detailed property tax information, please see Tables 4 through 17B.

2011-12 General Property Tax Revenue

Programs

Under its constitutional mandate, the BOE oversees the assessment practices of the state's 58 county assessors, who are charged with establishing values for approximately 13.5 million assessments each year. In addition, the BOE assesses the property of regulated railroads and specific public utilities, and assesses and collects the private railroad car tax and timber yield tax.

General Property Taxes

County-assessed property values for the 2012-13 roll increased 1.4 percent from the previous year. This modest gain follows three consecutive years of essentially flat or declining assessed values. Increases in residential and nonresidential building construction activity and sales of existing homes more than offset the effects of declines in prices of existing homes.

Proposition 13, passed by California voters in 1978, imposed a property tax rate of one percent of the property's full cash value, with limited exceptions. In addition, it allows reappraisal of real property at current fair market value only when there is a change in ownership or upon completion of new construction. Otherwise, Proposition 13 limits annual increases in the value of real property to the previous year's California Consumer Price Index for all items, up to a maximum of two percent.

State-Assessed Properties

In accordance with Article XIII, section 19 of the California Constitution, the BOE assesses certain public utility and other specified properties and allocates the assessed values among the counties where the properties are physically located. Each county taxes the allocated value of state-assessed properties at the same rate as locally assessed properties.

State-assessed properties include:

  • Pipelines, flumes, canals, ditches, and aqueducts lying within two or more counties.
  • Property (except franchises) owned or used by regulated railway, telegraph, or telephone companies; railroad car companies operating on railways in the state; and companies transmitting or selling gas or electricity.

Private Railroad Car Tax

Private railcar owners pay the private railroad car tax on railcars operated in California. For 2012-13, the Board-adopted assessed value for private railroad cars totaled $720 million. The total assessed value reflects the application of an 81.71 percent assessment ratio as required by the Federal Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act. The estimated private railroad car tax revenue for the state's 2012-13 General Fund was $8.0 million.

Additional information on the private railroad car tax can be found in Tables 4 through 17B and in publication 41, Taxes and Fees Administered by the California State Board of Equalization.

Timber Yield Tax

Timber owners pay the 2.9 percent timber yield tax based on the immediate harvest value of trees harvested for wood products. Revenues are returned to the counties where the timber was harvested. Calendar year 2011 revenues totaled $7.0 million.

Timber harvest volume increased from the 1.2 billion board feet in 2010 to 1.3 billion board feet in 2011. The total value of the year's harvest increased to $272.5 million. The number of registered timber owners decreased from 1,541 active program registrants at the end of June 2011 to 1,451 active program registrants as of June 30, 2012. Thirty timber owners paid approximately 87 percent of the tax collected in 2011.

Additional information on the timber yield tax can be found in the Tables 16A and 16B and in publication 41.

2011-12 Timber Yield Tax

Operations

County-Assessed Properties Division

The County-Assessed Properties Division develops property tax assessment policies and informational materials to guide county assessors and local assessment appeals boards. The division conducts periodic Assessment Practices Surveys of each county assessor's office and issues reports to state and local officials.

In 2011-12, the BOE issued survey reports for Alameda, Alpine, Calaveras, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Imperial, Lake, Mendocino, Orange, Plumas, Santa Cruz, and Tehama counties. Copies of the reports are found in the Property Tax section of the BOE’s website.

Additionally, the division provides technical expertise and guidance to assessors, the Legislature, and others concerned with property tax assessment matters, and ensures that the content of property tax forms is uniform throughout the state.

In 2011-12, County-Assessed Properties Division staff provided the following services to local governments and the public:

  • Updated three sections of the Assessors’ Handbook to reflect current, annually collected data: Residential Building Costs (AH 531), Rural Building Costs (AH 534), and Equipment and Fixtures Index, Percent Good and Valuation Factors (AH 581).
  • Completed review and updated over 100 property tax forms.
  • Made 93 forms available to county assessors in a web-compatible, fillable format.
  • Made 20 forms available in a web-compatible Americans with Disabilities Act compliant format.
  • Issued 60 advisory Letters to Assessors.
  • Responded by telephone to more than 8,200 public inquiries regarding property tax matters, prepared 1,900 written responses, and responded by email to 435 website inquiries.
  • Reviewed over 850 claims for Organizational Clearance Certificates and 423 claims for Supplemental Clearance Certificates associated with the welfare exemption.
  • Issued 463 Organizational Clearance Certificates and 261 Supplemental Clearance Certificates.
  • Examined 358 existing Organizational Clearance Certificate and Supplemental Clearance Certificate holders to ensure continued eligibility for the welfare exemption.
  • Conducted 19 formal appraisal courses and workshops attended by more than 530 students comprised of property tax appraisers from county assessors’ offices and the BOE.
  • Conducted seven online courses taken by 132 property tax appraisers. Also reviewed results of web-based, self-study training sessions taken by 640 students and examined students of self-paced online learning sessions taken by 144 students.
  • Issued 161 new appraiser certificates and 104 advanced appraiser certificates to property tax appraisers of county assessors’ offices and the BOE.
  • Developed two web-based, self-paced online learning sessions on the use of the Assessor’s Handbook Section 505, Capitalization Formulas and Tables, and Assessors' Handbook Section 581, Equipment and Fixtures Index, Percent Good and Valuation Factors.
  • Sent more than 7,600 questionnaires to legal entities (corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies) and received 682 self-reported filings, discovering 956 changes in control and ownership, resulting in the reassessment of 8,224 parcels owned by the entities.

State-Assessed Properties Division

The State-Assessed Properties Division provided the Board Members with value indicators for state-assessed properties, and allocated the BOE-determined value of those properties to the counties where the properties are physically located. The division also audited the financial records of utility and transportation companies for property tax purposes and was responsible for the valuation of private railroad cars located in California.

Timber Tax Section

The division also collects and administers the state’s timber yield tax, described above. Timber Tax Section staff gathers data on timber harvest sales and develops timber harvest value schedules for consideration by the BOE’s Timber Advisory Committee and approval by the Board Members. The division also registers timber owners who harvest timber, and collects the timber yield tax.

Tax Area Services Section

The Tax Area Services Section continued to maintain maps of more than 10,000 revenue district boundaries that encompass 61,675 tax rate areas, helping to ensure the proper allocation of local tax revenue to counties, cities, and special tax districts.

Appeals

Local assessment appeals boards hear and decide appeals of county-assessed property values. The Board hears and decides appeals of state-assessed property values, appeals filed under the Timber Yield Tax and Private Railroad Car Tax Laws, appeals of welfare exemption denials, and appeals made by local governments concerning assessments of properties they own outside their boundaries. For more information regarding appeals filed with the BOE in 2011-12, see the Appeals chapter.

Back to Top

Sales and Use Taxes

California sales and use tax revenue totaled $41.2 billion in 2011-12, a decrease of 3.1 percent from the $42.5 billion total in 2010-11. Sales and use tax revenue included:

$31.3* billion from the state sales tax, with:

  • $19.2 billion allocated to the state’s General Fund.
  • $2.7 billion allocated to the state’s Local Revenue Fund; tax rate of 0.50 percent.
  • $2.7 billion allocated to the Local Public Safety Fund; tax rate of 0.50 percent.
  • $1.3 billion allocated to the state’s Fiscal Recovery Fund; tax rate of 0.25 percent.
  • $5.2 billion allocated to the Local Revenue Fund 2011; tax rate of 1.0625 percent.

$5.3 billion from the 1.00 percent Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax, allocated among all of the state’s 58 counties and 480 cities.

$4.6 billion in special district transactions (sales) and use tax; rates vary by district.

*Detail may not add up to total due to rounding.

2011-12 Sales and Use Tax Revenues

Please note: The huge drop in the State General Fund is explained by the creation of the 2011 Local Revenue Fund. A total of $5.2 billion was shifted from the State General Fund to this fund. The fuel tax swaps (gas and diesel) further complicate analyses of these percentage changes.

Programs

Retailers engaged in business in California pay the state’s sales tax, which applies to all retail sales of goods and merchandise, except those sales specifically exempted by law. Consumers in California of tangible personal property that is used, consumed, or stored in this state pay use tax. Use tax applies to purchases from out-of-state vendors (including purchases made by mail order, telephone, or Internet) and applies to most leases of tangible personal property. The state sales tax and use tax are “mutually exclusive” which means either sales tax or use tax applies to a single transaction, but not both.

The sales and use tax rate in a specific California location has three parts: the state tax rate, the local tax rate, and any district tax rate that may be in effect. The combined state and local tax rate is 7.25 percent (6.25 percent state tax rate and 1.0 percent current local tax rate). State sales and use taxes provide revenue to the state’s General Fund, to cities and counties through specific state fund allocations, and to other local jurisdictions.

Local Sales and Use Tax

In 2011-12, the BOE collected and allocated the one percent Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax for all California cities and counties. For each sale, the 0.25 percent local tax was allocated to the county where the sale occurred, for local transportation projects. The remaining 0.75 percent local tax was allocated to the county or an incorporated city, generally depending on the location of the sales negotiations.

City and county local tax distributions are detailed in Tables 21A and 21B.

2011-12 Local Sales and Use Tax Distributions

Redevelopment Agencies

Between 1981 and 1993, cities could finance redevelopment projects with revenue derived from the local sales and use tax and distributed under agreement to city redevelopment agencies. Although this authority was repealed effective January 1, 1994, existing city ordinances were permitted to continue. There were 22 redevelopment projects in 7 California cities that were receiving sales and use tax revenue as of June 30, 2012.

District Transactions (Sales) and Use Tax

The BOE collects and distributes district transactions (sales) and use tax on behalf of voter-approved tax districts throughout the state. The districts fund a range of local services and infrastructure, including general government, transportation projects, open space, hospitals, and public libraries. Some California locations lie within more than one tax district. These district taxes are applied in addition to the combined statewide tax rate of 7.25 percent.

A complete list of tax districts, jurisdictions, and revenues is found in Table 21C.

At the beginning of 2011-12, there were 131 district taxes in effect, with rates ranging from 0.10 percent to 1.0 percent. The following lists all of the new districts that went into effect during fiscal year 2011-12.

Effective October 1, 2011

City of Mount Shasta Libraries Transactions and Use Tax—0.25%

Effective April 1, 2012

City of Fairfax Transactions and Use Tax—0.50%
City of Oakdale Transactions and Use Tax—0.50%
City of Palm Springs Transactions and Use Tax—1.00%
City of Vallejo Transactions and Use Tax—1.00%
Mendocino Library Special Transactions and Use Tax—0.125%

Sales made by retailers in a jurisdiction levying a district tax are generally subject to a total sales tax rate that includes the combined statewide rate and the applicable district tax rate (see Table 23B). While the provisions of the Transactions and Use Tax Law are similar to state and local sales and use tax laws, significant differences do exist. These include an exemption for sales shipped to a location outside the district for use in that location and special requirements for sales of aircraft, registered vehicles, and undocumented vessels. Property purchased for use in a district may be subject to that district’s use tax.

Operations

The BOE encourages voluntary tax law compliance and offers sales and use tax assistance through its Sacramento Headquarters and 20 field offices located across the state. The BOE also maintains offices to assist taxpayers located outside California who are registered to do business in this state. These office locations include New York, Chicago, Houston, and Sacramento (Western States).

As of June 30, 2012, the number of sales and use tax permits totaled 1,020,012, which represented 1,233,780 business locations. These totals reflect a decrease of 348,000 permits that were closed as a result of changes to the administration of the Qualified Purchasers Program.

The agency processed 3,437,166 sales and use tax returns and prepayments, of which, more than 3.1 million were efiled.

Compliance Activities

BOE compliance staff ensures that sellers properly comply with permit requirements, assist sellers in interpreting tax laws and regulations, provide classroom instruction and individual assistance in the correct preparation of tax returns, and collect outstanding tax amounts. In 2011-12, the Sales and Use Tax Department collected more than $940 million in delinquent sales and use taxes.

Consumer Use Tax Section

The Consumer Use Tax Section works closely with state and federal agencies in administering the use tax due on nondealer sales of vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and mobile homes. In 2011-12, revenues totaled $493.1 million including:

  • $469.3 million collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV);
  • $20.6 million collected by the BOE;
  • $3.2 million collected by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

Audit Program

The BOE maintains an effective audit program to ensure that businesses accurately report neither more nor less tax than required. The program audits one percent of active master accounts each year, concentrating on those considered most likely to be inaccurate in their tax reporting. In fiscal year 2011-12, the sales and use tax audit program disclosed net deficiencies of more than $438 million. Taxpayers received more than $169 million in sales and use tax audit refunds.

Areas of Taxpayer Noncompliance

To comply with requirements of the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, the BOE annually:

  • Identifies the areas of the Sales and Use Tax Law where taxpayer noncompliance is highest.
  • Classifies the types of businesses making errors.

The category of Unsupported sales for resale was the most costly and the third most frequent category of taxpayer noncompliance, representing one in eight taxpayer errors. This area of noncompliance accounted for nearly 23 percent of all net sales and use tax audit deficiencies (less refunds) or more than $90 million in unpaid tax.

Failure to pay use tax on purchases from out-of-state vendors was the second most costly and the most frequent error, representing almost one in six taxpayer errors. This noncompliance category made up 17 percent of all net sales and use tax audit deficiencies (less refunds), totaling more than $69 million in unpaid tax.

The following charts summarize the BOE's findings on the types of taxpayer noncompliance for fiscal year 2011-12 and provide other tax compliance information required by the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.

Analysis of Noncompliance, 2011-12

Types of Noncompliance

Top 10 noncompliance by revenue collected and frequency

Types of Noncompliance Noncompliance by NAICS* Industry Percentage of Revenues Collected Unsupported Sales for Resale Purchases from Out-of-State Vendors Recorded vs Reported Difference

Tax Evasion

The intentional noncompliance with the sales and use tax laws is considered tax evasion. As a result of identified tax evasion, the Investigations Division issued sales and use tax audit billings in the amount of $10.9 million in 2011-12.

Back to Top

Special Taxes and Fees

In 2011-12, the BOE administered more than 20 special tax and fee programs that encompass a broad range of activities and transactions. Revenues from the insurance tax, alcoholic beverage tax, and a portion of cigarette tax receipts are allocated to the state’s General Fund. Other special taxes and fees fund specific state services, from highway construction to recycling programs. The BOE administers most of the special tax and fee programs in cooperation with other state agencies.

Revenues

BOE-administered special tax and fee program revenues totaled $10.3 billion in 2011-12, a decrease of 0.2 percent from 2010-11. Of the $10.3 billion total revenue generated by special tax and fee programs, fuel taxes totaled $5.6 billion, while alcohol and tobacco taxes totaled approximately $1.2 billion.

2011-12 Special Taxes and Fees Revenues

Programs

This section includes information regarding special tax and fee program revenue, significant program highlights, and the number of program registrants. More detailed information regarding individual tax and fee programs is found in publication 41, Taxes and Fees Administered by the California State Board of Equalization, which accompanies this report. This chart includes information on what is taxed or licensed, who pays, tax and fee rates, year-to-year revenue changes, and how revenues from each program are used on behalf of California residents.

Aircraft Jet Fuel Tax

Aircraft jet fuel tax collections for the year totaled $2.5 million, based on the taxable sale or use of 126.6 million gallons of jet fuel. There were 222 jet fuel dealers registered with the BOE as of June 30, 2012.

Alcoholic Beverage Tax

Alcoholic beverage tax revenues totaled $346.3 million in 2011-12, a 3.6 percent increase from 2010-11. Program registrants numbered 6,931 at the end of the fiscal year. Consumption data is found in statistical Tables 28 and 29.

California Tire Fee

Revenues totaled $49.0 million in 2011-12. At fiscal year-end, 12,483 businesses were registered for the program that the BOE administers in cooperation with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and the Air Resources Board (ARB).

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Fee

In 2011-12, fee collections totaled $20.1 million. At the end of the fiscal year, 979 feepayers were registered for the program. The BOE administers this fee in cooperation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Program

This program requires statewide licensing of all manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers of cigarette and tobacco products. License revenues for 2011-12 totaled $1.7 million. During the fiscal year, the Special Taxes Policy and Compliance Division issued licenses to 34 cigarette manufacturers and importers, 77 tobacco product manufacturers and importers, 548 distributors, 399 wholesalers, and 36,751 retailers. The division also processed 467 citations and conducted 262 appeal hearings.

The program also requires the BOE to conduct compliance inspections of cigarette and tobacco product vendors. In 2011-12, the Investigations Division conducted 10,405 compliance inspections, issued 324 citations for various violations of the cigarette and tobacco tax laws, and executed 306 seizures of contraband products. The seizures included contraband tobacco products with a wholesale cost of $116,974 and 37,908 packs of contraband cigarettes.

Cigarette and Tobacco Products Taxes

Combined revenues from these taxes totaled $899.5 million in 2011-12, including $819.1 million from cigarettes and $80.4 million from other tobacco products. These taxes are collected from cigarette and tobacco products distributors. At the end of June 2012, 628 distributors held licenses under this program. This registration figure does not include California cigarette or tobacco product consumers who are required to pay tax on their out-of-state (Internet or mail order) purchases because they do not hold licenses on an ongoing basis. Consumption data is found in Table 30B.

Diesel Fuel Tax

There were 33,451 businesses and individuals registered for the diesel fuel tax program as of June 30, 2012. Most are registered for fuel tracking or refund purposes. Two hundred and forty-six (246) diesel fuel suppliers paid more than 84 percent of the 2011-12 diesel fuel tax.

Please note: Combined revenues from diesel and use fuel taxes totaled $367.5 million for 2011-12, including $79.3 million from the interstate user tax.

Electronic Waste Recycling Fee

Electronic Waste Recycling Fee revenue totaled $110.3 million in 2011-12. As of June 30, 2012, 9,914 retailers of specified new or refurbished electronic equipment were registered for this program. These retailers sell "covered electronic devices" (CEDs) that are subject to the fee. The BOE collects the eWaste fee on behalf of CalRecycle. The fee is imposed on the retail sale of CEDs. The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is responsible for what items are consdered CEDs and, therefore, subject to the fee.

Emergency Telephone Users Surcharge

Total revenues for 2011-12 were $83.3 million. With 498 telephone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service suppliers registered as of June 30, 2012, the BOE administers this surcharge in cooperation with the California Department of Technology Services (OTech).

Energy Resources Surcharge

Revenues totaled $74.2 million in 2011-12 with 116 electric utilities and consumers registered as of June 30, 2012.

Hazardous Substances Tax Law

Activity Fees

Activity fees revenue totaled $402,000 in fiscal year 2011-12. Entities pay the fees when applying for permits and other types of requests from the DTSC. They are not required to be registered with the BOE on an ongoing basis.

Disposal Fee

Disposal fee revenue totaled $4.6 million. There were nine registered facilities for fiscal year 2011-12. The BOE administers this hazardous waste fee program in cooperation with the DTSC.

Environmental Fee

Revenues totaled $41.7 million in 2011-12 with 50,112 program registrants as of June 30, 2012. The BOE administers this hazardous waste fee program in cooperation with the DTSC.

Facility Fee

Revenues totaled $5.1 million in 2011-12. At the end of the fiscal year, 181 facilities were program registrants. The BOE administers this hazardous waste fee program in cooperation with the DTSC.

Generator Fee

Generator fee revenues totaled $23.3 million in 2011-12. Program registrants included 6,099 feepayers with a total of 19,924 sites in the state as of June 30, 2012. The BOE administers this hazardous waste fee program in cooperation with the DTSC.

Insurance Tax

Revenue from this tax, levied against insurance companies in lieu of most other California taxes, totaled $2.0 billion for 2011 business. With 2,061 insurance companies registered to pay the tax, and 570 surplus line brokers registered for administrative purposes as of June 30, 2012, the BOE, the State Controller's Office (SCO), and the Department of Insurance (DOI) share administrative responsibilities.

Integrated Waste Management Fee

Revenues totaled $40.8 million in 2011-12. With 168 solid waste landfill and wood waste facility operators registered for the program as of June 30, 2012, the BOE administers the program in cooperation with CalRecycle.

Marine Invasive Species Fee

Revenues totaled $4.4 million for 2011-12. With 4,503 feepayers registered, the BOE administers the program in cooperation with the State Lands Commission (SLC).

Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax

Revenues totaled $5.2 billion for 2011-12. There were 290 businesses (139 suppliers and 151 other accounts) registered in the program as of June 30, 2012.

Natural Gas Surcharge

Surcharge revenue totaled $646.3 million in 2011-12. As of June 30, 2012, 12 public utility gas corporations and 11 consumers who purchased gas through interstate pipelines were registered for the program, which the BOE administers with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Fee

Total revenues for 2011-12 were $3.2 million. With 11,575 feepayers registered as of June 30, 2012, the BOE administers the program in cooperation with the CDPH.

Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee

Revenues for 2011-12 totaled $28.4 million. With 44 registered for this program as of June 30, 2012, the BOE administers the fee in cooperation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFG).

Oil Spill Response Fee

Oil spill response fees were not collected from the 28 program registrants in 2011-12 because the Oil Spill Response Trust Fund reached its maximum $50 million level in 1991-92. The BOE administers the fee in cooperation with the DFG.

Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee

Revenues totaled $316.9 million in 2011-12. With 7,778 feepayers and 13,768 tank locations registered, the BOE administers the program in cooperation with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

Water Rights Fee

Revenues totaled $13.2 million in 2011-12. With 13,125 feepayers registered as of June 30, 2012, the BOE administers this program in cooperation with the SWRCB.

Motor Carrier Office Programs

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)
Interstate User Tax

Most interstate motor carriers who travel on California highways pay the state’s interstate user tax through the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), an agreement among the 48 contiguous states and ten Canadian provinces. The vast majority of IFTA revenue comes from diesel fuel use. There were 24,293 California-based IFTA licensees at the end of the fiscal year. Carriers who travel only between California and Mexico instead pay the interstate user tax. There were 1,055 of these non-IFTA carriers registered as of June 30, 2012.

Use Fuel Tax

As of June 30, 2012, 845 alternative fuel users and 214 fuel vendors were registered with the BOE.

Please note: Combined revenues from diesel and use fuel taxes totaled $367.5 million for 2011-12, including $79.3 million from the interstate user tax.

Operations

Staff members in the BOE’s Special Taxes and Fees Division provide direct assistance to the businesses that pay special taxes and fees. The BOE processed 253,871 special tax and fee program returns during the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Audits

Staff in the Special Taxes Audit and Carrier Division has the primary responsibility for auditing special tax and fee program accounts. This year, special tax and fee audits revealed more than $31.96 million in net tax and fee deficiencies and identified more than $499,000 in refunds.

Compliance Activities

BOE special taxes and fees compliance staff ensure proper registration and licensing of businesses, assist taxpayers in interpreting tax and fee laws and regulations, and provide help with tax and fee returns. Compliance personnel also collect delinquent tax and fee payments and refer suspected tax evasion or fraud cases to the agency's Investigations Division.

Fuel Tax Compliance

BOE staff members at California Highway Patrol (CHP) Truck Inspection Facilities and the CDFA Agricultural Inspection Stations enforce the state’s fuel tax laws. They ensure that motor carriers traveling into California without current fuel tax licenses or fuel trip permits are brought into compliance before traveling on the state’s highways. Staff members assess penalties for noncompliance and collect outstanding taxes. BOE personnel at the CHP inspection facilities also identify goods and equipment being shipped into California that may be subject to sales or use tax.

Cigarette Tax Compliance and Enforcement

The BOE continued its efforts to identify out-of-state sellers of cigarettes who sell to California consumers through the mail or over the Internet. The out-of-state vendors are required by the federal Jenkins Act to report information regarding these sales to the BOE. California consumers who buy unstamped cigarettes in this manner are responsible for the excise and use tax on these purchases.

In California, it is illegal to sell cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco unless the brand is included on the Tobacco Directory maintained by the Attorney General (AG). In January 2011, retailers were provided relief from financial hardship resulting from the loss of cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco inventory when it became illegal as a result of its removal from the Tobacco Directory. (Assembly Bill 2496, Chapter 265, Statutes of 2010.) Among other provisions, this law permits a licensed retailer to possess, transport, and sell previously purchased tax-paid cigarettes up to 60 days from the effective date of the product’s removal from the Tobacco Directory.

As anticipated, implementation of AB 2496 had an impact in the number of cigarette seizures for violation of the Tobacco Directory in 2011-12. While the percentage is still relatively high, seizures for Tobacco Directory violations resulted in only 53.7 percent of the total seizures compared to 76.4 percent in the prior year.

Back to Top