Sacramento, CA – The state’s chief fiscal officer is calling for a major reform of the public agency charged with tax administration and fee collection.
Today State Controller Betty T. Yee announced her intentions after yesterday receiving the California Department of Finance (DOF) evaluation of the State Board of Equalization (BOE). Yee serves as an ex-officio member of BOE and before being elected to State Controller she served on the board for a decade.
“In order to rebuild taxpayer trust, meaningful reform is essential. I urge the Legislature and the Governor to strip the board members of all statutory functions and permanently move these duties and assigned staff to a separate new department under the Governor,” Yee states.
She is recommending that the BOE should be relieved of their tax administration, audit, and compliance functions in order to focus on their appellate duties.
“This change would address the prevalent misuse of resources and better serve taxpayers,” Yee says. Back in November 2015, her BOE review pointed out a misallocation of $47.8 million in sales tax revenue as well as accounting and administrative control deficiencies she termed as widespread.
Among the Controller’s current criticisms are that BOE has not fully implemented her recommended reforms from that review; additionally, the latest DOF evaluation states concerns over the staff’s ability to carry out the mission of the BOE.
Some of the findings Yee points to, quoting from the DOF report summary are that “board member practices have intervened in administrative activities and created inconsistencies in operations, breakdowns in centralized processes, and in certain instances result in activities contrary to state law and budgetary and legislative directives.”
Established in 1879 by a state constitutional amendment to ensure uniformity of property tax assessments throughout the state, today the BOE collects the retail sales and use tax, property taxes, and special taxes, along with handling tax case appeals.