"Tax increases take money out of taxpayers' pockets, stifle economic growth, and fund wasteful government programs. California's state budget already exceeds $146 billion; the government doesn't need any more of taxpayers' hard-earned money."
Proposition 13 is the most important taxpayer rights initiative in California history. Bar none. Before Proposition 13, homeowners lived in constant fear that they could be taxed out of their homes with high property tax bills. California taxpayers must remain vigilant against attempts to raise taxes and weaken Proposition 13's strong taxpayer protections. Rest assured, as a signatory of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Michelle Steel has done everything in her power to defeat every attack on Proposition 13.
In the era of I-Tunes, I-Pods and I-Phones, the pro-tax lobby is looking to create a new I-Tax. That's right, there's a movement under way to expand the sales tax to digital downloads, online services, and computer software. California's sales and use tax law is precise; sales and use taxes can only be levied on tangible goods. Michelle Steel opposes this expansion of sales and use taxes.
California's hardworking service businesses already pay one of the highest state income tax rates in the country. However, some in California want to burden consumers with even more taxes by creating a new sales tax on service-based businesses. Everyone from accountants to lawyers -even doctors- would be subject to this new double tax. Michelle Steel has fought and continues to oppose this blatant double taxation.
With today's technological advancements, we can digitally scan and electronically save taxpayer files. We can save taxpayer's money, increase our response time, and still guarantee taxpayer's privacy- all by bringing the Board of Equalization into the Digital Age.
Tax e-filing & expanded e-services are a win-win situation for taxpayers and state government. Taxpayers benefit from the added convenience and no-hassle chance to e-file their tax returns. State government benefits from reduced bureaucratic costs, fewer errors, and quicker collection of taxes than the traditional snail mail. In her first six months on the job, Michelle Steel helped the Board expand its e-filing to over 60,000 new businesses. The agency's digital renovation remains one of Michelle Steel's highest priorities.
Any taxpayer who tours the Board of Equalization headquarters will find row upon row of paper files. It's the literal definition of government red tape. In fact, an entire division of employees is exclusively charged with filing and retrieving old paper files. Michelle Steel is working towards a new system to digitally scan, electronically store, and securely encrypt these files to save taxpayers time and money— all while guaranteeing taxpayer confidentiality.
The Board of Equalization commonly receives requests from taxpayers for copies of their tax files or appeal records. Due to inefficient paper records, the agency can take weeks or even months to respond to a taxpayer's request. Such tardiness is inexcusable in the digital age. Taxpayers should be able to electronically access their records in a time and manner that is convenient for them.
Michelle Steel's commitment to taxpayers began at an early age when she watched her mother fight an unwarranted Board of Equalization tax bill. As an immigrant small business owner, Michelle's mother lacked the resources to successfully fight a massive state agency and reluctantly acceded to the Board's demands. As one of California's fiscal officers, Michelle Steel promises to always protect taxpayers' rights and thwart the overbearing government that her family encountered.
Some taxpayers feel like alleged child molesters have more rights to defend themselves than citizens appealing their tax bills. Taxpayers commonly feel like the Board of Equalization presumes them to be wrong, unless they can prove they were right. That's because the rules of evidence for a tax hearing are significantly different than a court of law. This violates the most fundamental principles of our democracy. When Michelle Steel hears a tax appeal case, she always gives the taxpayer the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, she has sponsored legislation to legally guarantee that taxpayers are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
When a taxpayer owes the government money, he or she has to pay the government interest. But, when the government owes us money, the interest rate is only a fraction of what we pay the government. Fair is fair. Michelle Steel believes that taxpayers should receive the same interest rate that we pay the government.
No one should ever live in fear of the tax agency. When she was still a Business major at Pepperdine University, Michelle Steel watched the Board of Equalization intimidate her mother's small business into paying an unwarranted tax bill. Steel's mother lacked the language skills, legal knowledge, and taxpayer assistance to fight her case. As our elected taxpayer advocate, Michelle Steel has hosted numerous taxpayer rights workshops, small business seminars, and non profit events to help taxpayers understand the complicated mess of tax regulations. Remember, Michelle Steel has an open door policy when it comes to all taxpayer matters.