The OC Register’s Editorial staff is on a roll, looking hard at candidates, Ballot Measures and Initiatives before Election Day. This morning, after prominently featuring a Howard Jarvis/Jon Coupal anti-local tax piece, they’ve nailed Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar for trying to deceive his residents with a decreased Telephone Users Tax. What’s hidden in the Ballot Measure’s text, City Attorney’s opinion, Ballot Argument (no one apparently filed an opposing Argument) and other documentation is that this one percent reduction (6% -> 5%) in their existing Telephone Utility Tax no longer applies to JUST ordinary copper land lines, but ALSO, now, to cell phones and ANY form of “telecommunications services”, even pre-paid 99-Cent Store calling cards. This tax might also apply to cable and satellite TV.
Given the opportunity to tax a lucrative source by legally obligating cell phone providers like Verizon to pony up tribute from their Los Al individual and business accounts, Edgar’s team is trying to hide this Measure as a modernization or update of the current TUT. To make it palatable and sound reductive, they drop it by one percent (maybe they should have said 100 basis points, that’s a LOT). But oh-by-the-way, we’re now taxing you cell phone. And your wife’s. And the children’s. And for local businesses, if they provide them, their sales or service staff phones are levied. Internet users might or might not be taxed in a number of ways, and the city may, if they’re technically savvy, be looking for their “fair share” (aren’t you tired of hearing THAT nonsense) of those Skype, Magic Jack and Google Voice calls that are so easily made over ordinary in-home broadband connections. “T-1” service, the very high-speed, high-capacity voice and data circuits used by medium- to large-scale businesses in Los Al won’t be exempt either.
The most deceptive part of the Tax Fighter’s scheme is he can’t say what it will suck out of little Los Al’s 12k+ residents and all those business parks along Los Alamitos Blvd. We can bet it will come in far higher than the middling $640k the TUT is collecting now.
As the current candidate for the 72nd Assembly District, Edgar promises he won’t raise taxes, but he also won’t sign the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge. Apparently his clone, the Mayor of Los Alamitos makes no such commitment and sees this shifty Measure as a way to fund a variety of projects that the Register names — let’s all not miss the Sugar Beet Festival or the community gardens he’s planning to have with the money.
We wonder if the OC GOP will be handing anyone the 2012 Tax Fighter of the Year award (there’s no mention of any years’ awards anywhere on the OC GOP website) — they must not be very proud of it as their last selection didn’t impress.