L.A.'s Millionaires Tax Is Gaining Fans

Das 'Bu
Das 'Bu
File photo by caccamo/Flickr

It's an idea we know you like: Taxing the ultra-rich locally in order to help alleviate Los Angeles' homeless crisis, which is becoming a national embarrassment.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has approved a proposal to lobby the Legislature to change the law in order to allow this so-called millionaires tax to get a vote from the people.

The idea, which would need the approval of two-thirds of county voters, would impose a Los Angeles surcharge of 1 percent on personal annual income of more than $1 million.

Phyllis Marshall, chief legislative representative for the county government, said this week that she's lining up support in Sacramento.

"Twenty-nine state legislators signed an open letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislative leaders urging approval of a budget bill that would give the Board of Supervisors the authority to place the 'millionaires tax' before voters," her office said in a statement.

The original motion to move forward on the lobbying idea stated that "76 percent of likely voters would strongly support a November 2016 ballot initiative to impose a one-half percent tax on income above $1 million."

That motion was the brainchild of supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl. The poll was commissioned by the county.

Los Angeles unions, including SEIU Local 721, the California Nurses Association and the Los Angeles County Probation Officers Union, AFSCME Local 685, are asking legislators to make the ballot measure possible.

"We have an unprecedented opportunity to create a sustainable and substantial revenue source to fund our efforts to end homelessness," Kuehl said.

Los Angeles is a metropolis filled with billionaires. The median price of a home on the Westside is more than $1.2 million, according to a recent analysis. Yet the individual median income here is a measly $27,987, which isn't even enough to rent a median-priced one-bedroom apartment in L.A.

Such a tax could raise $243 million a year.

The rich aren't hurting. They're prospering more than ever, even in a state that some fiscal conservatives say has onerous taxes already. Some folks are rich because they're sitting on valuable property or seeing dividends trickle in. But people who get $1 million a  year or more in income, often on top of all that, are truly, really rich.

We can do this.


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