March 21, 2016

Briefing is (really) complete in local tax challenge

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

Last month I noted that briefing was complete in PLF’s challenge, brought on behalf of the Building Industry Association — Bay Area, to a tax measure recently enacted by the Bay Area town of San Ramon.  I spoke too soon.  Subsequently, the California League of Cities filed an amicus brief in support of the City’s tax.  The gist of the League’s brief is that municipal financing in California will be thrown into confusion should PLF’s lawsuit succeed.  But as we explain in our answer to the League’s brief (filed this week), the League’s fears are misplaced.  Local governments have plenty of options open to them to raise revenue to pay for local services. But those options require municipalities to adhere to the important constitutional and statutory limitations on their taxing power—most importantly, the requirement that the voters decide whether and how to tax themselves, not the city.

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